February 8, 2016
Redux: RoboCop 2.
Redux Review #004: RoboCop 2.
Peter Weller (Alex Murphy/RoboCop), Nancy Allen (Anne Lewis), Belinda Bauer (Dr. Juliette Faxx), Dan O'Herlihy ("The Old Man" / OCP President), Felton Perry (OCP Vice President Donald Johnson), Tom Noonan (Cain), Willard E. Pugh (Mayor Marvin Kuzak), Gabriel Damon (Hob), Galyn Görg (Angie), Stephen Lee (Officer Duffy), and Robert DoQui (Sgt. Reed) Directed by Irvin Kershner (#114 - The Empire Strikes Back)
Welcome to a Redux Review of the original RoboCop 2 film, which is a revised review meant to say more about the movie as a whole. The rating will stay the same, but I feel that this Redux is necessary (which I could say for a good deal the original batch of reviews). Not to worry, there will be new reviews on the way, but I feel that the upcoming Redux Reviews are necessary to help better the evolution of Movie Night, and to help alleviate the unintentional month long hiatus. Enjoy.
RoboCop 2. For me, it might actually be more disappointing than the third one because of the fact that even though it is better than RoboCop 3, the level of expectations/care is way, way less in that film than in this, a movie that resets Murphy into fighting (internally) the man-or-the-machine conundrum...that had been dealt with in the first film. The mood in this film is significantly more darker, and the violence is certainly more prevalent this time around. I do like the effects, especially with the climax, which is very impressive to watch. The movie does at least retain the Media Break/commercial interludes (my favorite being the one about Sun Block 5000, a blue sunscreen that causes skin cancer with frequent use), but it feels somewhat lacking in the most critical component: RoboCop.
The movie seems to focus more on the impending bankruptcy of Detroit (the movie did at least get one prediction true)...or the police strike...or the building of RoboCop 2...or the rise of Nuke, or pretty much anything that involves RoboCop being not as prominent this time around. Sure, he does get butchered into pieces and promptly gets restored...inputted with so many directives. I understand the idea behind it (example: RoboCop shooting at spots near a dude until he drops his cigarette...actually, that's just weird), but it barely goes anywhere due to RoboCop promptly frying himself and all of his directives. I guess its interesting that he does this willingly, but by that point, I was just waiting for RoboCop to be involved with taking down Nuke...which he does, technically. The movie isn't very enjoyable to watch, because there isn't much to root for, aside from RoboCop. I can't care too much for OCP and their troubles, and I can't care for the city's problems when the mayor resorts to taking drug lord money to pay off a debt...I could care about the police strike, if it wasn't for that it kinda just ends after RoboCop fries himself. The music by Leonard Roseman isn't terrible, but after a riveting score in the first film, having a theme in which a chorus sings out RoboCop's name is a bit much, don't you think? This isn't the 60's Batman theme (which is meant to be campy), you know. At least the movie continues the tradition of being filmed in Texas (this time being filmed in Houston - I guess Texan cities double well for Detroit?).
The acting this time around is fine, and I do like Weller, who seems like he really is trying to make the movie work, although he evidently had gripes with the third act, particularly with the lack of morality, in his words. Bauer is okay, but as for her character...I'll get to that shortly. O'Herlihy gets a chance to ham it up this time around, even yelling "BEHAVE YOURSELVES" to the two RoboCops near the end. It is a bit jarring to see the Old Man turn out to be evil, but I guess the plan of engineering a police strike to make the city default is one you have to conceal very well. Noonan does an alright job, but he doesn't have as much memorability as the previous villain. Granted, he does become RoboCop 2, but by then it's almost too late. And of course there's Gabriel Damon playing a foul-mouthed teenage member of Cain's gang that's also (probably, never counted) a murderer.
The idea of having the character in the movie comes off as both silly and flat-out ridiculously over-the-top stupid, especially when he takes over Cain's "empire" near the end. Actually, the worst scene is his death sequence, a scene that is absurd in the idea that anyone could feel any sympathy for this character - especially after he uses a lunch-box gun against cops. Sure, he's a kid that was killed (by Cain no less), but...nope, the sympathy card doesn't go that far. I'm aware that Frank Miller was hired to write the film, but his script (deemed "unfilmable" by the producers) was changed, though some of his ideas (such as Hob) stayed. I wonder whose idea it was to have RoboCop confront Cain (the second time) and have him play chicken with him on a motorcycle, though. Miller's words on the movie: "Don’t be the writer. The director’s got the power. The screenplay is a fire hydrant, and there’s a row of dogs around the block waiting for it."
My other gripe with the movie is the idea of putting a drug lord's brain into a cyborg body, using the drug as a way of controlling him (?!), because you can totally control someone who's bigger and stronger than you and is completely insane (you'd go insane if you were took off your ventilator and promptly see your head with only your eyes and brain to watch. Because what could go wrong-Yea, everything goes wrong for OCP really fast (what did you expect?!). Sure, the rest of OCP (minus Faxx, who picked the brain) probably didn't expect the result they got, especially after they sent the thing to murder the mayor and a group of city councilmen when trying to make a deal to save the city (I do like Of course the Old Man displays a canister of Nuke right in front of RoboCop 2 when making a presentation about how the cyborg will rid the drug from the streets...and the crazed robot goes right for it. Logic is dead. Technically you could say the Old Man and Faxx get their comeuppance...in that they might go to jail. Whoopee, because that makes all of this mean-spirited mess worth it. It would be like if Boddicker went to jail instead of getting the sendoff that he got in the previous film (you know, the one that knew how to treat its characters).
For all the times I compare it to the first film, the movie isn't inherently terrible. It's just a very scrambled mess that comes off as too cynical and probably a bit too long (nearly 2 hours), while managing to be only mildly successful. It does have its moments, but it begs to be made with more competent storytelling, and that is the greatest crime of all.
We all know about the third one. And if you don't...you'll see.
For the record, I didn't intend on writing over 1000 words for an inferior sequel, it just happened.
Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars.