RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop (2023)

Director: Christopher Griffiths, Eastwood Allen

Running Time: 300 Minutes

Certification: 15

Released in 1987, Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop was a critical and financial success which combined extreme violence with thought-provoking messages. It may seem like just the latest of '80s topics to be covered by Christopher Griffiths and Eastwood Allen, whose previous works include Pennywise: The Story of IT and Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story, yet this feels like a passion project which benefits from the lengthy runtime for meticulous coverage. Split into four parts, this five-hour documentary breaks down each aspect of the film made by the Dutch director whose mantra on-set was "Blood! I want more fucking blood!"

Opening each part is a retro title sequence which effectively captures the spirit of the film greenlit after the success of The Terminator. From the initial idea being born on-set of Blade Runner, this in-depth documentary breaks down the how the film came alive through segments devoted to various aspects. The expected areas are covered such as casting and designing the suit, while also shedding light on sound design, the in-universe show TJ Lazer, and even the "I'd buy that for a dollar" man. This is largely done through talking head interviews, which allows leading man Peter Weller to be reflective about his time, while also highlighting how the antagonistic gang members were brought alive courtesy of alterations provided by the actors.

Other elements are also integrated to make this feel thoroughly researched, including audio recordings, sketches, behind-the-scenes footage, and even script pages. It all captures a comprehensive look at this feature about the future of law enforcement which captured the spirit of Judge Dredd and Phillip K. Dick, however that was not enough for prospective directors. The initial stumbling block was how off-putting and cheap-sounding the title was, and this was only the first of many difficulties encountered which included regular on-set tensions due to Verhoeven being combative.

The use of exaggerated violence was a controversial point with censorship boards, as it was intended to test the audience's numbness to on-screen violence through these outlandish instances. One of the most fascinating stories involves Kevin Page as Mr. Kinney, who went through an arduous experience in the film's most bloody death because Verhoeven was unsatisfied with how much blood was used in the scene. While there is much thoughtful analysis offered, what perfectly rounds off this work are the laugh-out-loud anecdotes which are made even funnier courtesy of the excellent editing on-show. This is wonderfully showcased during a sweet story about Weller calling an actress beautiful, although the highlight is an Oreo related recollection which shows how frustrating method acting can be.

What has been crafted is a definitive and exhaustive documentary which never feels exhausting to watch, even with the lengthy runtime. This is an extensive work which allows even the film's bit players to talk about their experiences on the film, covering a range of different aspects instead of using a more compact runtime to cover the same regularly used pieces of trivia. This is a must-watch for any fan of RoboCop.

RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop is available now on the Icon Film Channel and on Blu-Ray Collectors Edition. It is available on Video On Demand from January 1st 2024.