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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Retro Review: RoboCop 2 (1990)

Robocop 2
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O'Herilhy, Tom Noonan, Belinda Bauer, Gabriel Damon 
Genre: Cyberpunk Action 
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $45,681,173

Plot: Cyborg Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is the sole officer on duty after the police force goes on strike against evil conglomerate OCP (Omni Consumer Products) & its push to foreclose on the city of Detroit. Aside from dealing with the normal level of crime, Murphy must take on crime boss, Cain (Tom Noonan), the spread of a dangerous new drug called ''Nuke'' & the attempt to create another Robocop using a hardened criminal 

'A Sadistic & Utterly Mortifying Follow-Up That Relies On Shock Tactics More-so Than Anything Else'

Robocop 2 sees the living and breathing part-man, part-machine going up against not one, but two adversaries: evil drug dealer, Cain and the company who created Robocop in the first place: OCP. 

From the very scene where Hob says to him he can't shoot a kid, followed by him uttering the F-word & shooting Robocop in the head, the film pretty much goes downhill from there on wards, with it eventually falling apart & yet it doesn't even attempt to redeem itself.

The first film was well written, classy, funny on occasions, the 
cynicism and mindless violence- as over the top as it was- was tongue-in-cheek; each had meaning attached to them. In Robocop 2 one so-called 'heartfelt' scene sees Robo tending to the boy, Hob, who before that by the way, along with his cronies, dismembered and battered the living daylights out of Robocop with a crowbar, as well as tearing off his limbs & almost killing him in the process. Yet in a resurgent & revived Robo utters a few lines whilst gently stroking the boy's head as he dies - yes, real cute (not). Pardon me, but Hob tried to kill and murder you, he wanted you dead. Why should I feel sorrow and compassion for this character, who has been nothing but utterly abhorrent & hateful throughout? Another heartfelt scene is where his wife when he was Alex Murphy before he'd died is so distressed by scenes of him spying on her outside her house. 

The Hob character was a prime example of how in having child characters in a film such as this, doesn't make them extremely annoying or irritating but rather heinous and evil. The film tries to make him out as this some kind of special and precocious child, who has a mind of his own and by being 'cool'. When in actuality, this kid has the mindset of Chucky the Doll from Child's Play. He was clearly way over his head, arrogant and so incredibly obnoxious, he kills people with a machine gun without any remorse. Multiply that by 3, and you have the makings of a potential and future killer and murderer and not just some hardened criminal. Yet in Hob and through the amusement arcade scene, the film tries to negatively portray and capitalise on children and turn them from innocent young minds into foul-mouthed, nasty and riotous little beings with little to no contempt for the law and other people. Going as far as robbing a shop keeper, stealing the money from the till and literately beating him with a baseball bat. 

Targeting the kid demographic with child-related themes and through the Robocop character being a type of positive role model that children can look up to because he represents good against evil, shouldn't have been weaved into a movie that is R-rated & aimed at adults. Robocop tries to give a talking to one of the kids, but they spray paint his helmet, shout obscenities and run off, without giving a hoot. But yeah, I didn't like the characters in this movie - apart from the smart-suited African- American mayor of Detroit, who I was rooting for throughout and the only one who had the guts to stand up to OCP. The female protagonist, Lewis was a step backwards from the first film- and Robocop who is less of the tough-as-nails cop and spends almost half the time of the film, acting and behaving more like a poster boy for a child safety advert. 

Then we have OCP who were the good guys in the first movie, now one of the treacherous villains alongside Cain for this entry. I thought OCP were all right in the original Robocop, so by making them the antagonists and the CEO head of the company more of an arrogant so- &- so, didn't make sense. Just like what the writers did with the first movie, the film would have arguably been better had Robocop 2 made Cain and his cronies as the main and only villains. 

The Detroit cops go on strike because OCP is cutting their wages, and yet Robocop, whose mind has been warped by a scheming scientist, is still doing menial tasks instead of busting real criminals. 

The film's entire plot revolves around Robocop trying to bring down Cain and prevent him and his cronies from distributing and selling a lethal drug by the name of 'Nuke', whereas the so-called 'clean' OCP uses Cain's brain to create a new cyborg, who by chance gets out of control and ends up going on a manic killing spree & later going after Robocop in vengeance. 

The first time I saw this film, which was on VHS tape, I was in my early teens and I was flabbergasted at the amount of violence, obscenities and blood that was in Robocop 2. This was also during a time where I still hadn't seen the first film, but based on what I saw, I was taken aback at how exceedingly violent this sequel was and is. I know there are a lot of people who are into that stuff, I don't mind watching some violence, but in Robocop 2, it did make me feel squeamish. & there were scenes that just didn't need to be shot and included, but were filmed just to appease fans of gratuitous violence. 

The razor-sharp wit and intelligence of the first film are completely and utterly abandoned in favour of gratuitous scenes of blood, gore, violence, F-words and curse words aplenty and some chaotic and out- of- depth moments. There was also a mean-spiritedness to this film that really turned me off that passes itself off as 'entertainment'. Whilst the story is plausible, for some people the execution of the film leaves a bitter taste. In addition, fellow officer Anne Lewis's role is minimal and not as effective, in comparison to the predecessor. 

One positive thing to come from this film were some of the stop-motion effects like the animal-tronics that were cool to watch until the arrival of CGI later on.  

The ending of the first Robocop was supposed to lay the foundations of what was to come in latter sequels; unfortunately, instead, it has been rendered irrelevant and tossed aside and that whatever levels of humanity felt by Alex Murphy in the first film, it was as if, none of it ever existed, nor mattered. That they wanted to create a new identity, and as a result, Robocop got one, sort of, but all that didn't matter much to their eyes, just as long as they vigorously churned out one violent scene after another. Which this film did. The film loses focus of Robocop/Alex, as more screen time is centred on the villains, rather than on Robocop and Anne Lewis.

The finale between Robocop and Cain is played out in comic book/cartoonish fashion, with the two characters trading blows but after it has ended, it concludes on such a lazy and weak note. 

Despite some of the impressive special effects, it masks Robocop 2's sheer fallacies as a sequel to Robocop; it removes all the best qualities and positive aspects and replaces it with a morbid and abhorrent tone that wallows in a state of unpleasantness. Robocop 3 is far worse than this film for sure and the remake of Robocop is, well, so inferior; nevertheless, Robocop 2 is still a big massive failure and disappointment. The film's failure at the box office signalled the beginning of the decline for this franchise. With fewer shots of the rampant violence and mutilations of the characters body parts, a better script, a much more pleasant tone and improved characterizations, Robocop 2 would have been the sequel that deservedly warranted a place alongside 1987's Robocop. But alas, - and partly due to Frank Miller (creator of Sin City and who appears in a cameo as a scientist) and his sense of direction, which went way over the mark here -, what appears to be an audacious stab at making a Robocop movie ultimately descended into an undesirable, as well as an equally calamitous disaster of epic proportions. 

Final Verdict:

This is worth getting, but only if you want to complete the Robocop collection or are into movies such as this one, The Terminator; other than that, there is no other reason to own Robocop 2. 

It is a dismal attempt where the story behind a human being now turned cyborg is ultimately lost in copious amounts of overly excessive violence, horrendous and distasteful characters & just sheer, plain nastiness throughout. Not even Peter Weller, the writer of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Irvin Kershner in place of Paul Verhoeven and comic book writer, Frank Miller could save it from being the total disaster that it was. 

Robocop 2 is a morbidly sadistic, depressing and mortifying sequel that pays little respect to the first film, but rather resting on its laurels, whilst being even more over-the-top and cruder in its execution. 


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