Sunday, May 28, 2017

Movie Talk - The Robocop Movies

Next up for the month is a little something different. If folk think that you need aliens, space adventures, and big booms to tell a story, then the Robocop series will prove you wrong. Well, the big booms are there at least. Robocop is something I’ve always had an interest in. I think I saw the first Robocop movie on ABC a long time ago. I never watched any of the animated series but I think I owned a toy. I’m not sure on that. It’s one that I’ve wanted to revisit here, so now’s the time to re-visit the first three movies and the 2014 reboot.

As I said before, I saw the original 1987 movie when it aired on TV. It and Robocop 3 were one of the first movies I viewed on Netflix. I don’t know how I first saw Robocop 2. It may have been on TV. I know I’ve seen it since then on TV. I actually rented Robocop 3 when I was a kid. Other than Netflix, I don’t think I’ve seen this one on TV. If it was on there, I probably skipped it. Then, there’s the 2014 reboot. This one was also a Netflix viewing. I never got to see it in theaters (nor rented it), so Netflix was the best place. So, what do I think of these now that I’ve recently re-watched them?

Robocop was released in 1987. It’s set in Detroit in the not-too-distant future. The movie starts out with OCP (Omni Consumer Products) trying to fix up the city in order to build a new city: Delta City. When their new robot, the ED-209, is a failure, one from the company comes up with a new idea: a cybernetic cop. He uses the remains of Officer Alex Murphy to create this new crime-fighting machine. The new idea, Robocop, starts to effectively clean up the streets. When Robocop starts to regain his memory and go after the men who killed him, Clarence Boddicker (one of the criminals who killed Alex Murphy) wants Dick Jones of OCP to take him out permanently.
Anne Lewis: Nice sidekick whose hair gets worst in every movie.

It was good to revisit this. It was cool to re-watch this on Blu-Ray. Everything about this film works for the most part. The story is well-told. The setting, while “futuristic,” feels real and lived in, and pretty timely. The whole cast does a great job with what they have.  Peter Weller does a great job in the role of Robocop. The look, the voice, and the moves are pretty cool. The supporting characters and villains were also pretty cool. Does anyone think that Ronny Cox should be a villain in every movie? I mean, he more or less is “that dude who’s a villain in stuff,” so I was just wondering.
Bow before the power of Ronny Cox!

The action was pretty cool. It doesn’t really start getting really good until Murphy becomes Robocop but that’s not a complaint. Robocop’s origin is freaking brutal and the movie doesn’t shy away from the “R” rating it has. This is bloody but effective. Still, I wouldn’t show this one to the little ones nor ones who don’t like gore. While I’m not a gore hound, there’s enough stuff here for me to like. The satirical commercials were funny, effective, and eerily familiar. Finally, the music is awesome. The main theme and score that’s used here is still pretty effective. Other than it being a little slow towards the beginning, this is as close to perfection as it can be.

Robocop 2
Robocop 2 was released in 1990. It was directed by Irvin Kershner and it takes place a few months after the first movie. OCP starts to make plays in buying old Detroit. Because of OCP, most of Detroit’s police force is on strike. Still, Robocop is doing his job in cleaning up the streets. Meanwhile, a new element enters the game. A new drug called “Nuke” gets out on the streets and its pusher, Cain, is a certifiable nub-job. Major run-ins between Robocop and Cain leaves Robocop in pieces and Cain close to death. OCP takes Robocop and reprograms him into being “nice” while a scientist named Dr. Faxx decides to use Cain’s brain for a new Robocop.
Yes, a 12 year-old boy uses a makeshift machine gun.

This one isn’t as good as the original but it’s not bad either. It sits in the “fine” category where a lot of movies sit at. It does have some good things to it though. Peter Weller is still good as Robocop. Even though she was in a more limited role, Nancy Allen was still cool as Officer Lewis. I did think Cane was a bit of an interesting villain and Hob, his 12-year old sidekick, was somewhat funny. The movie is a borderline comedy at times and sometimes it worked. A lot of the satire and social commentary worked. I thought the mayor of Detroit was hilarious. Finally, the action was on par with the previous movie. The final fight scene was pretty cool and the effects (while somewhat dated) worked.

That being said, I did have some problems with the movie. The story is pretty much the main culprit. It’s much more over-the-top here. While that’s not entirely a bad thing, there are times where the tone didn’t work for me. OCP is played is the “EVILLLL” organization. The CEO from the previous movie has pretty much become a villain in this one. That’s not a bad thing in itself but he was actually pretty docile in the first one. Also, who thought it was a good idea to make a cyborg out of a certifiable nut-job like that isn’t going to obviously blow up in your face? Thanks, lady!
So, I'm guessing that this is the R-rated version of Toy Story?

Robocop himself is pretty much downplayed here. We barely get any development out of him. His old life is played up at the beginning but that’s it. It goes into action movie mode after that. He’s kind of regressed a bit as well. While he found himself at the end of the first movie, he’s back to being more robotic here. He’s also out of the movie for quite a while. The violence was a little too over-the-top at times. I thought Cane’s surgery scene was a bit much. Lastly, we get a completely different score here. We even don’t get the main theme from the first movie. Now, the music is good but something did feel missing from it. Overall, Robocop 2 wasn’t bad but it was far from good.

Robocop 3
Robocop 3 was released in 1993 and it takes place five years after the second movie. It actually was supposed to be released a year early, but Orion Pictures was having financial trouble. Since Robocop was one of their money makers, they decided to gear this one toward all audiences and make it PG-13… guess how that turned out? In the movie, OCP (who’s been bought out by a Japanese company) is laying the groundwork for Delta City. In order to do that, they get a squad called REHAB to forcibly evacuate the citizens. There are some citizens who won’t give up without a fight, though. Robocop is caught between helping Detroit’s citizens and upholding OCP’s rule.
Possibly the best scene in the film.

So, what do I think of this one? It’s okay. It’s kind of neck-in-neck with Robocop 2, honestly.  I think it had some good story elements like a rebellion in Detroit, the Detroit police joining said rebellion, and Robocop kicking some butt. Even though the action is dialed down and pretty gore-less, I liked it for the most part. There was some humor that worked. We also get the original composer from the first movie back with a pretty cool soundtrack. I even thought the death scene of a certain character was pretty effective. The main villain was even somewhat entertaining. While Peter Weller is missed, Robert Burke did his best as the cybernetic cop.

Unfortunately, that’s all the goodwill I’ll give the movie. While it had some good story elements, it all wasn’t handled well when put together. You’ll get couple of weird plot holes here and there. There are times where it seems really cheap.  Robocop also felt a little ineffectual at some points. It’s kind of like Robocop 2 where he’s either damaged or missing for long stretches. We get a kid sidekick who’s barely tolerable. It seems like she’s the “dues ex child” of the movie since she can literally hack anything. Yay, I guess. The movie even has cyborg ninjas from Japan and it fumbles them as well.
Oh crap... Not only is this an accessory for the next toy line, it's also an accessory included in a crappy flying scene.

Overall, it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen. Heck, I kind of like it over the second one a bit. Still, it has serious problems. It also lacks what made the first movie like the gore and charm. While I actually don’t care about the gore, the charm is something it definitely needed. It also didn’t help that they tried to make Robocop into a straight-up superhero. Still, I still enjoyed it. It’s better than most movies.

Robocop (2014)
The final movie for tonight was released in 2014 and the phrase “crying of fanboys” was probably uttered somewhere. It takes place in Detroit and the year is 2028. OmniCorp, a company that specializes in creating robots and drones for overseas work, wants to have their own robot in the States. Unfortunately, they can’t do that thank to laws and legislation. When Officer Alex Murphy is critically injured in a bombing, OmniCorp gets his wife to agree to have what’s left of Murphy be used in a cybernetic project. Omnicorp turns Murphy into Robocop, part-police officer, part-machine, and have him do their work. Still, this doesn’t stop Murphy from wanting to live his old life.

While this movie has a lot going for it, it’s held back by a few stuff. First, here’s the good. I liked that they tried to tell a different version of Robocop’s story. I thought that the family, who was really underused in the other movies, played a nice role here. The creators also did their best in showing how a cyborg with almost limitless potential could be used in this technologically-advanced era. The suits looked good in my opinion. I also liked that they do include a new variation of the original suit.

 The action was good though a bit choppy at points. In fact, the action was the only thing that saved the final act for me. Finally, I thought the star power to this movie was nice. We had Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earl Haley, and Michael K. Williams in this thing. I especially liked the social commentary aspect to it with the stuff about the war and Jackson’s impersonation of Bill O’Reilly/Sean Hannity/ “Any Idiot From Those Major News Outlets.” The satire is there but a bit lacking, though.
Fanboy Sense tingling!

Unfortunately, there are problems here. Joel Kinnaman was a weak lead for Alex Murphy. He wasn't bad but someone else should have been picked. He's just so bland even before he becomes a cyborg. There are also some dull moments in the movie. A lot of questions could have been brought up in those moments, but we don’t get that. Also, the villains of the movie were kind of lame. When Robocop becomes a problem, the heads of OmniCorp try to take him out in a ridiculous way. The only thing that made the last act watchable was the action since the story went to crap. The ones behind Alex Murphy's assassination attempt weren’t bad though.
Joel Kinnamen: Aaaaa... I'm a robot... Aaaaa...

Overall, it could have been good, but the main actor and most of the story hurt it a lot. I doubt it could have been better than the original. Yes, the movie is lacking a lot of the gore the first two had but that’s not a complaint. It's actually much bloodier and a little more thought out than Robocop 3 was. Also, the scene where Murphy sees what’s left of his body is really creepy. As I said, it’s not really good but it’s not that bad either. If anything, it’s disappointing.


In the end, maybe no one should touch Robocop. After the first movie, it more or less went downhill. There are the three lackluster movies. two lackluster animated series, a lackluster live-action series, and a somewhat lackluster miniseries (Prime Directives). At least the original is a classic. I say check out all of these movies. You may come back with an opinion that doesn’t match mine. Well, I’m outta here. I might get to have some fun with someone special tomorrow. Either way, I’ll be back with something. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and be wary of cyborgs who haven't mastered stairs.

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