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Robocop Trilogy  (1987, 1990, 1993)

 

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Robert John Burke, et al.

Directors: Paul Verhoeven, Irvin Kirshner, Fred Dekker

Ratings: R, PG-13

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 8, 2004
Review posted: June 6, 2004

Spoilers: None

 

Reviewed by Jon Bjorling

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Robocop: In the near future, Detroit has become a war zone. Crime runs rampant and the corporate-run police force is unable to keep up. However, when one officer “volunteers” for the new Robocop program, crime is given a new enemy, but where does machine end and man begin in a cybernetic organism?

 

Robocop 2: A new drug, Nuke, has hit the streets and has created a new set of problems for Robocop and the OCP-owned police force, and even Robocop cannot keep up. However, OCP is using the current strain on the city to fulfill its own agenda.

 

Robocop 3: Now owned by the Japanese Kanemitsu Corporation, OCP begins to move ahead with its Delta City operation. However, this means the removal and demolition of many people and their homes. When Robocop discovers this, he turns against his corporate masters and aids a group of rebels in fighting the fascist corporation at all levels.

 

CRITIQUE

 

Ultra violent and filled with social commentary about big business in the 1980’,s the Robocop trilogy walks a fine line between nihilistic satire and big budget mindless action. The first Robocop film presented a vision of the future that seems like a precursor to the futures that films like Blade Runner and Alien gave us, a world dominated by gigantic faceless corporations seeking greater profits at the cost of human lives. This is the world that Robocop must defend. Even though he is a product of the corporation, he is still a cop and willing to do what is right, which may or may not be in the interests of his creators. Director Paul Verhoeven’s first American film is fun on many different levels.

 

The film is intelligently written and is tactful when dealing with its comments on society. On another level, it’s a great action film with amazing stop motion animation from Phil Tippett. The film’s uncut version, while not much longer, shows how brutal Verhoeven’s original vision of this world actually was. Peter Weller gives a good performance, considering we never really get to know Murphy and we spend most of our time with his robotic alter ego. 

 

Robocop 2 continued the story and showed us what happens when the corporation begins to try and overthrow the existing city government and take over. With Robocop considered obsolete, a second, and more deadly Robocop is commissioned, which leads to chaos. Robocop 2 fails to live up to the expectations set by the original. On a satire level, the film is too dark and nihilistic. While the first film was also nihilistic, it had fun with it. Robocop 2 doesn’t have nearly enough fun to make the nihilism acceptable. The stop motion of the film is still great, although there is a little too much during the final battle between the Robocops.

 

Robocop 3 just never worked. In an attempt to be more of a comic book movie, the film ends up just being silly. By this point, the OCP Corporation has become a boring villain and the fascism that was introduced in the first sequel is far too over the top. Toning down the violence to make the film accessible to a wider audience may have been the film’s undoing. Also, the inclusion of the “add a kid” character Nikko is unnecessary. Nikko is in no way adorable or clever, despite an okay performance by Remy Ryan. Robert John Burke is okay as Robocop, but the script is so bad that he never has a chance to make anything of his role.

 

As a whole, this collection is okay. It’s definitely a set for those who love the series and would want to have all three films. If not, one can find all three of the films available separately, including Robocop’s uncut director’s version.

 

THE VIDEO

 

The transfers are pretty good, although I did notice that the transfer for the uncut Robocop seemed to be a little on the dark side. While it isn’t anything that affects the film, I did have a hard time seeing Verhoeven’s face in his brief cameo, which is clear in every other version of the film I have seen. Other than that, there is no grain, and the colors look good.

 

THE AUDIO

 

The sound mixes for all three films are great. The 5.1 stereo surround is absolutely beautiful, especially in the end battle of Robocop 2. The dialogue is never lost under the relentless gunfire. The mix for this DVD set is great.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Audio Commentary: A new and somewhat inferior commentary track to the one supplied on the Criterion collection version of the uncut Robocop. While it does supply a good amount of information, it seems like a watered down version of the other.

 

Deleted Scenes: The four deleted scenes, taken from their original video dailies, show us other bits from the Media Breaks that we never saw, including the original ending featuring Lewis in the hospital after being shot up. These don’t enhance the story in any way, but give us a little more Media Break to enjoy.

 

Flesh and Steel: The Making of Robocop; Shooting Robocop; Making Robocop: Three nicely detailed making-of featurettes that give the viewer a good idea how difficult the shooting of the film really was, as well as some of the techniques used in the film One of the better “making of” features that I’ve seen.

 

ED 209 Storyboard w/ Phil Tippett commentary: A frame-by-frame discussion with Tippett. It has some interesting info, but it seems a little too short.

 

Trailers & Photos: Production photos and the theatrical trailers.

 

As for Robocop 2 and Robocop 3, their respective DVDs only feature trailers and nothing else.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The presentation of the original Robocop is really good, and although the commentary track is only mediocre, the “making of” features are outstanding. It’s a shame that the sequels are lacking in features. If these discs had features, I think this set would have been perfect. Sadly, it’s only for hardcore fans of the series. This is a rental for the curious and a must buy for the fans.

 

VERDICT: RECOMMENDED

 

Home | Back to Top

 

:: The Disc

 

:: Disc Ratings

 

THE MOVIES

7

THE VIDEO

7

THE AUDIO

9

THE EXTRAS

9

OVERALL

7

 

:: Merchandise

 

ROBOCOP

Buy the DVD

 

ROBOCOP 2

Buy the DVD

 

ROBOCOP 3

Buy the DVD

 

FILM SCORE

By Basil Poledouris

Buy the CD!