Australian Council on Children and the Media

Robocop

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Robocop
  • a review of Robocop completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 February 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Robocop
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length 117 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Robocop is set in the year 2028 and opens with scenes depicting drones and androids engaged in urban warfare against terrorists in what appears to be a Middle Eastern country. The robots are manufactured by OmniCorp, a billion dollar company run by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton). Sellars wants his androids to be deployed throughout the U.S.A to replace American law enforcement officers. However, the American public are sceptical of the use of robots for this purpose and congress has passed a law preventing them being used on American soil. To circumvent current laws, Sellars decides that his company needs to develop an android that is part human and part robot - a ‘robocop’.

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a Detroit undercover detective hot on the trail of corrupt police officers selling high-powered guns to drug dealer Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). Realising that Murphy is getting too close for comfort, Vallon orders the murder of Murphy via a car bomb but the attempt fails, leaving Murphy severely mutilated.

Murphy’s injuries make him the perfect choice for OmniCorp’s experimental machine/human hybrid cop and scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is given the job of transforming Murphy into the world’s first Robocop. However, the transition from man to machine is not a smooth one. Dennett is forced to alter Murphy’s brain, making him more machine than man. But there is more to the human brain than both Sellars and Norton bargain for and when Alex’s old personality overrides his programing, he seeks to right the injustices done to him. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Corruption; urban warfare and terrorism; suicide bombers; robots

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of action violence including gun violence, some scenes of suicide bombers, occasional gruesome images and occasional blood and gore. Examples include:

  • Androids point guns at civilians including women and children with their hands raised.
  • In one scene, several suicide bombers strap bombs to their stomachs and chests. In a later scene we see a suicide bomber blowing himself up along with an android.
  • Men dressed in civilian clothing fire machine guns and rocket launchers at androids. Cars explode into fire balls and a jet plane fires rockets at gun wielding terrorists on top of a building which explodes in flames.   
  • A gunfire exchange between a group of men wielding machineguns and hand weapons and two undercover police officers wielding handguns. During the exchange we see several men shot in the chest at close range. Following the exchange of gunfire at least six men are left lying dead on the ground.  
  • When a man attempts to turn off his car alarm, the car explodes in flames hurling the man through the air to land on the front porch of his house. This scene is repeated several times later in the film. We see the man’s badly burnt arms and leg, and in a later scene he is shown in hospital with a burnt face, badly bloodshot eye and both legs and one arm amputated and the stumps bandaged.  
  • One scene depicts simulated CGI images of a man holding a woman and young child hostage pointing his gun at them. We see a CGI image of RoboCop shooting a number of  villains and the hostage taker.
  • One scene depicts RoboCop engaged in a frenetic gun battle with dozens of androids. RoboCop shoots androids and destroys others with his bare hands, ripping the head from one. RoboCop also shoots a human with a tazer gun, the man convulsing on the ground until he becomes unconscious. 
  • In a scene resembling a computer game, RoboCop remorselessly kills dozens of men by shooting them in the chest and back. One man is killed when a grenade he drops explodes; no blood and gore is depicted.
  • RoboCop pulls a man from his car, breaking the man's hand in the process. RoboCop then tortures the man by repeatedly stepping on his broken hand until he divulges information.
  • One scene depicts RoboCop shooting a police officer (who threatens him) in the chest at close range with RoboCop shooting a second police office (who was not threatening him) seemingly as a payback. In the same scene we see RoboCop threatening to shoot a female police officer aiming a gun at her head with RoboCop disabled before he can shoot the woman.      
  • In a gun battle, RoboCop is shot multiple times in the chest and back, leaving him injured with bloody scratches to his face and severely damaged body armour and helmet.
  • A man points a gun at RoboCop’s wife and young son and threatens to shoot them.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Throughout the film we see images of large and scary androids.
  • One scene depicts the still living partial remains of a man’s mutilated torso; all that remains is the man’s head, throat, heart and lungs. There are graphic images of the man’s exposed contracting oesophagus, breathing lungs and beating heart. The top of the man’s skull has been removed exposing the top of the pulsating brain. In a later scene clear tubes are attached to the back of the man’s mutilated torso and blood and bodily fluids pass through the tubes.   
  • One scene shows a man’s brain being operated on while the man is conscious. The top of his skull is removed and several metal implants are inserted deep into the top of the brain. The surgeon talks to the conscious man as he is being operated on; we see some blood and gore covering the surgeon’s gloved hands.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A young boy holding a knife stands in front of a tank-like biped robot. We see the robot firing at the young boy and although we do not see the boy being shot, the inference is clearly that he is dead.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Product placement

None of concern in the film, but associated merchandise may appeal to boys in particular.

Sexual references

Reference to a man being a rapist

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Alex Murphy embraces his wife and kisses her passionately. He then pulls off her top, revealing her bra, pushes her onto a bed and lies on top of her kissing her passionately. The scene ends when a car alarm goes off.  
  • A woman wears a tight fitting top.
  • A robot uses x-ray to scan several women, revealing the outlines of their bodies beneath their clothes.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man drinks spirits from a glass in a bar.
  • Alex Murphy drinks beer from a bottle.
  • One scene depicts a drug deal - small packages and money exchange hands.
  • One scene depicts an illegal drug lab with equipment, people making drugs and large plastic bags contain white powder.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in the film, including:

  • What the hell; god damn; bullshit; arse;  swear to Christ; Christ’s sake; sting like a bitch
  • The expression “mother fucker” is used once and beeped out, but clearly identifiable.  

In a nutshell

RoboCop is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name. It is a science fiction action thriller targeting older adolescents and adults. While depicting less blood and gore than the original, it deserves its M rating, featuring numerous gun battles, suicide bombers, gruesome images and a very high body count. Although the film may attract children under 15, it has a number of violent and disturbing scenes and characters which make it unsuitable for under 13s, and parental guidance is strongly recommended for young adolescents.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • It is not worth giving up freedom for safety.
  • The problems of drawing the line between humans and machines.
  • Greed can be an overriding factor when large companies determine people’s needs.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Commitment and determination: While having to contend with extraordinary circumstances, Alex’s wife remains totally committed to him and is determined to make their marriage work and keep their family together. Both Alex and his wife show commitment towards their son by assisting him to cope with changing circumstances.

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