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Blu-Ray Review: RoboCop 2 (Collector’s Edition)
Adam Frazier   |  @   |  

Blu-Ray Review: RoboCop 2 (Collector's Edition)

RoboCop 2
Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Irvin Kershner
Screenwriter: Frank Miller, Walon Green
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Tom Noonan, Belinda Bauer, Gabriel Damon
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 117 Minutes
Release Date: March 21, 2017

“They say he’s got a brain. I wanna see it.”

Written by Frank Miller (Sin City) and Walon Green (The Wild Bunch), and directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), 1990’s RoboCop 2 picks up after Paul Verhoeven’s classic 1987 film.

After the success of the RoboCop program, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) has their sights on privatizing Detroit. The mega-corporation plans to have the municipality default on its debt, then foreclose on the entire city, taking over its government. The crime-infested sprawl that is Old Detroit will be bulldozed and rebuilt as Delta City, a city center independent of the United States government.

To speed up the deterioration of Old Detroit, OCP “” who owns the Detroit Police Department “” terminates police pension plans and cuts salaries, triggering a police strike, and as a result, an increase in street crime. Enter RoboCop (Peter Weller) who, due to his prime directives, is unable to go on strike and remains on duty with his partner, Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen). Their current assignment: raid a manufacturing plant of Nuke, a new designer drug that is plaguing the streets of the Motor City.

During the raid, RoboCop encounters a young criminal named Hob (Gabriel Damon), who escapes because it’s against RoboCop’s programming to harm a child. Hob works for Cain (Tom Noonan of Manhunter and The House of the Devil), the power-hungry kingpin behind the city’s Nuke epidemic. Meanwhile, OCP is trying to develop RoboCop 2, a cybernetic unit that will be mass-produced and completely replace police officers. There’s only one problem: the prototypes commit suicide immediately after they’re activated. OCP psychologist, Dr. Juliette Faxx (Belinda Bauer), concludes that they should recruit Cain for the program, playing to the criminal’s desire for power and immortality.

Cain’s brain, spinal cord, and eyes are removed from his human body and implanted into a heavily armed mechanical body “” a hybrid of RoboCop, ED-209 and Marvel’s War Machine. Controlling the psychotic cyborg with copious amounts of Nuke, OCP orders RoboCop 2 to take out his predecessor, leading to a cyborg showdown. RoboCop 2 is a serviceable sci-fi action movie, but it just can’t measure up to Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original. Where that film ends with RoboCop reclaiming his human identity as Alex Murphy, the sequel isn’t interested in exploring Murphy as a man trapped inside a machine. Instead, much of the film’s focus is spent on humor that doesn’t work, and an effects-driven story that more or less rehashes the first film.

In the first film’s climax, The Old Man (Dan O’Herlihy) is something of a hero. The OCP Chairman fires senior president Dick Jones (the main villain played by Ronnie Cox) so RoboCop “” who can’t oppose an OCP officer “” can shoot him a half-dozen times. Here, The Old Man is just another Dick Jones, with Dr. Faxx standing in for his Bob Morton. Cain and his goons are stand-ins for Clarence J. Boddicker’s crew, and once Cain becomes a mechanical menace, he serves as this film’s ED-209. Without the original creative team – Verhoeven and screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner – RoboCop 2 feels hollow, unable to find the perfect mixture of comedy, action, violence, satire, and metaphor to make the character resonate.

So, how did RoboCop 2 happen without those responsible for the first film’s success? Simple: money. By 1988, Orion Pictures was in dire straits after a string of box office failures. On the verge of bankruptcy, Orion pushed for two RoboCop sequels to help the studio get back on its feet. Originally, RoboCop 2: Corporate Wars was offered to Neumeier, Miner, Verhoeven, and executive producer Jon Davidson, but with only nine months to develop, shoot, and deliver the film, which didn’t have a script yet, most of the creative team walked. Only Davidson remained, who was tasked with finding a writer-director as Hollywood braced for the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike.

Davidson landed on Tim Hunter (River’s Edge), but the filmmaker dropped out before shooting began due to creative differences. Scrambling, Davidson recruited Frank Miller, a comic book writer who had just found success in revamping Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. Next, Davidson went to a director known for perhaps the greatest sequel of all time in Irvin Kershner. The duo only had a few weeks before shooting began, and they didn’t have a finished script; cue Walon Green, who provided rewrites to Miller’s “unfilmable” draft. If it sounds like a total clusterfuck, that’s because it was. Like Alien 3, RoboCop 2 is a movie that, given proper time for pre-production, could have been a success, but was mired in production woes.

The result is a cheap, rushed, and disjointed film that just can’t compare to the original. It’s worth watching as a case study of how sequels often misunderstand their predecessors, but the story isn’t really worth acknowledging in terms of the character’s canon. For diehard fans though, Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is a definitive release, with a spectacular transfer and a plethora of insightful special features that detail the film’s troubled production. For more information on the disc itself, keep reading!

Bonus Features

Scream Factory’s RoboCop 2 (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray boasts a 1080p high-definition widescreen (1.85:1) presentation thanks to a brand new 2K scan of the interpositive. Regarding audio, there’s a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and two new audio commentary tracks: with author and computer graphics supervisor Paul M. Simon and another with Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths, and Eastwood Allen, the makers of the documentary RoboDoc: The Creation Of RoboCop.

Like most Scream Factory releases, this Collector’s Edition comes with an impressive amount of newly produced bonus materials, including Corporate Wars: The Making Of RoboCop 2 – featuring new and vintage interviews with the cast and crew – and Machine Parts: The FX Of RoboCop 2, including interviews with Phil Tippett, Peter Kuran, Craig Hayes, and other FX artists. Robo-Fabricator – an interview With RoboCop Armor Fabricator James Belohovek – and an interview with comic book writer Steven Grant, Adapting Frank Miller’s RoboCop 2, round out this definitive release.

Also included, OCP Declassified, a collection of rare archival production and behind-the-scenes videos, as well as your standard assortment of trailers, TV spots, and still galleries. This is without question the most impressive release of Kershner’s 1990 film that exists anywhere, in any format. While the film itself can’t compare to Verhoeven’s 1987 classic, this excellent Collector’s Edition Blu-ray makes RoboCop 2 easy to appreciate with a gorgeous looking transfer. If you’re a fan of the film, and you’ve been underwhelmed by previous high-definition releases, then you should absolutely pick up Scream Factory’s RoboCop 2 (Collector’s Edition), now available at Amazon.


Clip: “Open Fire”

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1 Comment »

  1. There’s a part of me that likes RoboCop 2 juuuuust a teeny bit more than the original RoboCop, but I think they are on par with each other. For me, it’s the quirkiness of the stop motion effects used for RoboCop 2 that gives it the edge. I love the brawl between the titular characters and it brings me back to the days when good practical effects reigned over CGI. Fun stuff! RoboCop 3 on the other hand? I regret even mentioning the title. Completely awful.

    Comment by PAUL — March 21, 2017 @ 10:50 am

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