The Scoop: 1993 PG-13, directed by Fred Dekker and starring Robert Burke, Mario Machado, and Rip Torn
Tagline: Back on line, Back on duty.
Summary Capsule: A toothless RoboCop goes on strike and vows to protect puppy dogs from evil corporations.
Justin’s Rating: RoboDud!
Justin’s Review: Why is RoboCop so cool? Well, some might argue he isn’t — a monotone-growling cyborg who moves as fast as migratory refrigerators and spews out corny one-liners is the outsider at today’s suave soirees. But as for me and mine, we stand by our home city’s most legendary (pretend) defender. RoboCop is easy to imitate, for one, and any kid who saw this growing up would most likely spend a few days walking stiffly and deeply wishing he had a machine pistol that would pop out of his right thigh. I only have a mole there, which I call “Hairy Spotter” for obvious reasons.
RoboCop looks like future, and the idea of an armored, impartial police officer stomping down back alleyways where the cops fear to tread is an appealing one. Couple that with the original sly satire of the first film, and it’s not hard to see why Robo became a tried and true icon of the 80’s.
Alas, like many icons traversing sequels, our cybernetic buddy lived just long enough to take a honking nose-dive into crap. Despite legendary comic book writer Frank Miller’s involvement, RoboCop 2 divided fans by its ultra-extreme violence and heavy-handed crudity, and RoboCop 3 fared even worse. Now, I’m a lightweight fan of RoboCop 2 — it’s a passable action flick with some pretty memorable scenes (the brain/eyes in the jar sticks with me, even when important phone numbers desert my noggin). But I have to bail on the third installment, which tests more than just patience as it skulks about.
Before it even released in ’93, red flags abounded like happy hour at a NASCAR speedway. Peter Weller turned down the option to return for it, Frank Miller’s script was watered down past recognition, and the rating for the series dipped from “R” to “PG-13” for the first time. This last move is pure cowardice on behalf of the studios — PG-13 is well-known for being the demographic sweet spot, but I’d argue that certain movie series should never, ever lower its standards from an “R”. Similar to Alien vs. Predator, RoboCop 3 cashes in its trademark violence and edge for something a lot safer — and a lot more dull. The audiences agreed, and everyone pretty much avoided Robo’s last adventure on the big screen. A second sequel is not the time to suddenly start shopping around for family values; stick true, or go home.
It takes 16 boring minutes for RoboCop to finally show up, and 88 boring minutes follow after that. Despite the return of many series regulars (like Ann Lewis, the police sarge, and the one corporate flunky), everyone seems to know that they’re just making RoboCop-lite, and acts accordingly. Instead of a gritty Detroit ghetto, it’s more like an untested sitcom locale for a blue collar working family with a mild police party theme. Instead of a hard-line RoboCop who lived to shoot would-be rapists in the crotch, he now would much rather fire at cars and watch radiators burst.
Also? Cliché #455 arrives to cause our eyes to twitch uncontrollably: the cute precocious computer genius kid who will, during the course of the movie, save the day at least three times. Yes, RoboCop 3 gets its very own Wesley Crusher.
Brief moments are all the fanservice we get: robotic assassins who can make goofy faces, a jetpack and weapon arm for Robo, and… um… look! A cute precocious computer genius kid! Ain’t she adorable?
I honestly don’t know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, but none of this retains a tenth of the excitement or satiric wit of the original. So we here at MRFH now bury our fellow cybercop, fire off a 21-nerf gun salute, and somehow go on with our lives.
- RoboCop 3 was filmed in 1991, but was not released until end of 1993 due to production company Orion going bankrupt.
- At least two of the characters in RoboCop 3 are based on Frank Miller’s own comic-book creations. Otomo, the cyborg samurai, is a nod to his ‘Ronin’ comic about a masterless samurai whose spirit is reanimated with futuristic biotechnology. Bertha Washington (CCH Pounder), a freedom fighter in the film, is a reference to Martha Washington, the freedom fighter from Miller’s “Give Me Liberty”.
- Filmed in Atlanta — most of the abandoned buildings seen in the film were slated for demolition to make way for facilities for the 1996 Olympics.
- Nancy Allen only agreed to reprise her role as Ann Lewis if her character were to be killed off in the first half of the film.
- The futuristic vision of Detroit includes skytrams about 50 stories in the air with no visible support structures and goofy men wearing fedoras
- What the kid types on the funky laptop keyboard in no way reflects what scrolls across her screen
- The URBAN team has chest armor with built-in sculpted abs!
- RoboCop and ED-209 as models in the kid’s bedroom
- “I’ll buy that for a dollar” guy
- If you’re attaching a big bomb to a gate, a 7 second countdown seems a little on the brief side to me
- ED-209’s have serial ports
- PoolMan’s cameo as a crazy diner patron!
- It’s 16 minutes before RoboCop makes an appearance
- You can be shot without ripping the shirt at all
- “He just turned around!” “He WHAT?” I guess turning your car around to help out fellow cops isn’t something that happens too often in this precinct.
- I miss the days when “punks with spikey hairdos” was always movie-language for “rough street gang”
- The cops are being surrounded by slow-moving punks, yet for no good reason, the cops don’t fire their weapons
- Does RoboCop ever try to dodge things instead of standing there and taking it?
- Why isn’t Lewis wearing body armor?
- RoboCop’s new gun arm is pretty sweet, although there are better ways of getting out of a car than blowing a hole in the roof. Less dramatic ways that your insurance company might prefer, like opening a door.
- RoboCop really likes Jesus, apparently.
- Ah, the “evil Japanese” stereotype of the late 80’s!
- It’s Bradley Whitford as a corporate lackey. Did Whitford ever play a likable character before The West Wing? Or during The West Wing?
- Robo brings Ann to the altar for… marriage? Human sacrifice?
- If it’s flashy and beepy, it ain’t good
- Refugee camps are always happy, family-oriented, and filled with upbeat music
- Who puts bayonets on assault rifles these days?
- Flashbacks to RoboCop 1
- Where do the rebels get a human heart? Dare I ask?
- RoboCop flies! Sort of! On a blue screen!
The CEO: Well, I gotta hand it to ya… what do they call you? Murphy is it?
Robocop: My friends call me Murphy. You call me… Robocop.
Paul McDaggett: How may I help you, officer?
Robocop: By resisting arrest.
Robocop: Don’t count on it, chum.
Bixby Snyder: I’ll buy that for a dollar!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- RoboCop 2
- RoboCop: Prime Directive