The Ninjabot

Geek Legacy Q&A: Should the RoboCop Reboot Be R or PG-13?

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 10:38 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson


There’s no doubt that movies have changed a great deal in the past few decades, and while some might argue that there’s more violence than ever in entertainment, I’d argue that it’s actually going in the opposite direction. Why’s that? Just take a look at the new RoboCop reboot. With a PG-13 rating, there’s no way that it’ll come anywhere near as close to the amount of violence we saw in the original when we were kids. To that point, one of our loyal readers sent in the following question after we posted the newest RoboCop clips:

Have the standards for gratuitous violence changed when it comes to rating a movie? Because Robocop with a PG-13 rating implies that he’s not going to be nearly as gangster as he was in the original movies. Why bring him back looking all fierce, modern, & scary only to put kid gloves on him?


The short answer to Jennifer’s question is: MONEY! The long answer, however, is that the rating system has drastically changed since the original Robocop. The MPAA has gotten a lot stricter on violence, which means that the original Robocop would actually be an NC-17 movie if it were released today. Just take a look at the special features list on the Criterion Collection version of the movie:


The unrated director’s cut, including ‘excessively violent’ shots cut from the theatrical release to avoid an X rating.

I think that says it all, don’t you? Most likely the new one will be very watered down and lack most of, if not all, the social message that made the original so endearing. Sure it’ll be flashy and frenetic with tons of shoot-em-up action, but it probably won’t have the same impact that made the original so great. We’ll see for sure when the reboot finally comes out, but I have a feeling that it’ll focus on the CGI and overlook the core story of the first RoboCop. That’s not to say a movie can’t be good without a ton of violence. However, a major hallmark of the original RoboCop was its extreme violence.

As far as the studios are concerned, PG-13 is their sweet spot. It allows them to be edgy without fear of putting it out of the reach of one of the largest movie-going demographics: teenagers. Parents are more apt to let their kid see a PG-13 film because they know that it won’t have any nudity and very little swearing. Granted that doesn’t necessarily stop many teens from watching R-rated films anyway, but studios are not going to risk their payday on the chance that theaters have a lax ID-checking policy at the box office, or that parents are perfectly willing to take their kids to an R movie.

Not that this will surprise anyone, but MGM and Sony are hoping that nostalgia and a famous name will put butts in the seats. In fact, it’s working already if you’ve heard Justin talk at all on the podcast about it (or seen his list of Most Anticipated Movies in 2014). It doesn’t truly matter to the studios whether the movie is good or not, only that people pay to go see it. That’s the name of the game in Hollywood these days, and we’re just going to have to accept that.

Still, I’m curious to see how the reviews go since most reviewers are of the generation that considers the original a classic. Will the majority of us be happy just to see this new reincarnation of a loved flick? Or will we be disappointed by all the action because there’s little substance? We won’t know for sure until it comes out on February 12th.

Do you have any burning questions you’d like to ask the Geek Legacy crew? Send it in to with the subject line “Geek Legacy Q&A,” and you could get a response right here on the site.

Follow Snackbar on Twitter @snackie_cakes for all your Geek News.

    • Stephen Janes

      I love the original RoboCop film for what it was; dirty, gritty and entertaining. If the reboot can still be an entertaining film, then the rating change won’t bother me at all, especially if the home release includes an unrated version or something similar. Then again, only so much can be said without seeing the film, so I’m willing to reserve judgement or comments until I see it.

    • Randy

      Since it is a reboot and not a continuation of the franchise, I’m okay with the PG-13 rating. It’ll open it up to a whole new generation/demographic of fans. The original was unnecessarily brutal and graphic, in a way you could only get away with in the 80s. I love it to this day, but it terrified me as a kid, and I just couldn’t watch “That 70s Show” because I kept waiting for Red Foreman to blow Eric’s hand off with a shotgun…

      But I, too, shall reserve judgement until I see the beast.

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