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Robocop 2 (1990)

1 rating: 1.0
Action & Adventure movie directed by Irvin Kershner

With the surprise success--both critical and commercial--ofRobocop, it was inevitable that a sequel would emerge (actually, two sequels). But this follow-up lacked the dyspeptically funny vision of filmmaker Paul Verhoeven and wound up skimming the surface … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Irvin Kershner
1 review about Robocop 2 (1990)

"Patience, Lewis. We're only human."

  • Aug 19, 2007
Though Paul Verhoeven's original "Robocop" didn't beg for a sequel, or even ask for one, as a very successful science fiction film made in the 1980s it comes as no surprise that one (and later two) eventually popped up. Seeing as Verhoeven wasn't attached, it also comes as no surprise that "Robocop 2" is not the masterpiece that its predecessor was. "Robocop 2" has its strengths, in fact a good deal of them, but its flaws prove stronger.

At the helm is Irvin Kershner, unquestionably a seasoned director, who most famously directed the second "Star Wars" film (widely regarded as the best), "The Empire Strikes Back." The fact that "Robocop 2" was his last film doesn't bode well. But the thing is, Kershner does a fine job. He has a one-hundred-percent-sturdy style which holds up from start to finish, and thankfully he takes the material seriously rather than turning it into another cartoonish sci-fi film, which any other director could easily have done. However, he's lacking the crucial element, the approach through which Verhoeven made "Robocop" a masterpiece: vision. Kershner directs, and he directs well, but he doesn't see. He follows the script, and that is all, and unfortunately, that's just not enough.

But is the script worth being followed? It has certainly earned "urban legend" status. That's because it was written by Frank Miller, the man behind the brilliant "Sin City" comics as well as "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns," frequently hailed as the best comic ever written. Unfortunately, those damned producers deemed Miller's script unfilmable and, without his involvement, re-wrote much of it, resulting in a very different film. Regardless, Miller was so fascinated by the filmmaking process that he has an amusing cameo as a meek chemist. (Miller's script was recently adapted to the comic book medium as "Frank Miller's Robocop.")

The final script is jagged and more than a little messy. By far the most upsetting mistake is the writers' blatant disregard for the ending of the first movie. At "Robocop"'s end, Robocop had re-discovered his humanity, and his partner was in need of some major medical attention. Here, Robocop is still the lumbering cyborg he was through the majority of the first movie, though admittedly he's become a little more good-natured, and his partner is in top shape. These are the things which viewers will be thinking of all through the film, although they may stop when Robocop is dismembered in a pale imitation of a similar scene from the first film.

The one aspect of the movie which doesn't call for protest is the cast, which under Kershner's direction deliver straight-faced, strong performances. Three performances in particular stick out. Nancy Allen as Robocop's partner is inexplicably charismatic and deserving of more attention than the film allows her. Dan O'Herlihy as the head of evil organization OCP is a blast. Most excellent is Peter Weller, who is even more likable than he was before; it's this humanistic likability that renders his performance so powerful and his character so important to the audience. On a side-note, Belinda Bauer plays the part of the ambitious and insidious scientist well, while Tom Noonan's villain is completely flat.

You can add Basil Poledouris' perfectly bombastic, marching, and soaring score to the missing list. His theme doesn't even crop up once in the entire picture. Fortunately, the new composer, Leonard Rosenman, rises to the occasion and composes a score similar enough to sooth the agitated fan, but fresh enough to add something to the film. His theme, which includes a female chorus giving campy shouts of "Robocop!," is terrific.

After all the crucial elements that didn't make the transition from "Robocop" to "Robocop 2," what did? For one thing, the bizarre blend of no-holds-barred violence and laugh-out-loud satire, though here the satire is more silly, and without Verhoeven, the action is less grotesque. Nevertheless, there's still plenty of gritty action and dark humor which prevent the film from staleness. The most amusing of the film's humorous moments is a commercial which features the esteemed John Glover as a salesman advertising "Magnavox," a tool which, we are shown through a graphic demonstration, fries any car thief. And "it doesn't even drain my battery!"

"Robocop 2" isn't a complete failure, nor is it a bad movie. It's almost a good movie, but it lacks that one most important of ingredients: vision. With a more inventive script and a talented director not afraid to take some risks, "Robocop 2" would have been a far better movie, but it's a decent successor to Verhoeven's brilliant original. And that at least is enough to save it from the scrapheap.

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