The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

RoboCop 3 (1993)

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We're ending our celebration of the DTVC's 500th post with Robocop 3, perhaps the most infamous of the three films. Here we had a flying RoboCop, a softer gentler RoboCop petting precocious children sleeping on his lap, and a RoboCop coping with android ninjas. A great time.

RoboCop 3 has Robert Burke taking over for Peter Weller in the title role. OCP is trying to relocate Detroit's poorer citizens so they can create the Utopian Delta City. In their way is a small resistance group, and when OCP has trouble taking them out, they try to use their number one asset to ease the process along: RoboCop. Thing is, his prime directives won't let him do something so sinister, so he's now with the resistance. A Japanese firm buying out OCP doesn't like this, so they send their own secret weapon, android ninjas, to take care of him. It'll take everything RoboCop's got, plus some new toys, if he's going to take down OCP for good.

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This was both the most expensive and least successful of the franchise, for a variety of reasons, but perhaps most importantly because it wasn't as good. 1993 was still a time when the Internet wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now, so word of mouth was the best way to sell a film like this, and once the first viewers came back with poor reviews, it was doomed. Not only that, Orion had massive financial troubles, which hampered the film's release and promotion. Can we be surprised this was disastrous? Probably not the way the series should've been wrapped up (before the mini-series, of course), but it's what happened.

I do like the film's overall message, especially with how relevant it is in today's political climate. In the early days of the Clinton Administration, the US was still getting over the 80s, the subsequent recession, and lack of success of trickle down economics versus the vast growth of the corporate world. Not to mention, American consumer products were getting lapped by their Japanese counterparts. There was a sense that the old way didn't work, and we needed to take American back from the old white haired geezers that put us in this mess. The world that RoboCop was born into in 1987 ceased to exist, which made the message of its third film even less tangible. Fast forward to 2010, and we see that the people who made RoboCop didn't plan on the corporation pulling a new weapon out of their arsenal: the AstroTurf Movement. Somehow corporations, disguised as outraged average Joes, have convinced people to protest and rally against their own best interests, supporting the corporate goals instead. What RoboCop 3 shows us, then, is that this whole idea that politicians are always bad, and businessmen are always good, is not exactly the case. Seeing people as numbers and potential profit margins leads to fascism as quickly as an extremely powerful central government. Funny that RoboCop 3 couldn't have predicted the Tea Bagger movement, but it did predict the response.

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No Weller this time. He was making The Naked Lunch, and couldn't do both. I would say he made the right choice, considering how amazing The Naked Lunch was, but no Weller just gave the film less credibility, even if the film boasted 4 or 5 Seinfeld guest stars, the heel from Billy Madison Part One: Billy Madison, Rip Torn, and Mako. The most ridiculous scene for me came when the little girl rests her head on RoboCop's knee to fall asleep, and RoboCop affectionately pets her head. I wonder what Weller would've done with that scene. Could he have made it less silly? We'll never know.

This was the only RoboCop film to carry a PG-13 rating. Part of that might be a toned down level of violence, but it also might be a softening of the MPAA's standards too. Either way RoboCop's raison d'etre is extreme, comic book, satirical violence, and at the very least, this film's violence was not at all like that. It was very straight ahead action film in its manner, almost becoming the films RoboCop was parodying. I guess that's when we know the RoboCop films jumped the shark, right? Or maybe it was when RoboCop flew around with a jetpack strapped to his back.

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I read on imdb that a new RoboCop is slated for 2011. I'm nervous about the prospect of that. Hollywood does not have a great track record of remaking 80s properties, and RoboCop was much better than its contemporaries to begin with. If Hollywood can't remake Friday the 13th properly, when all they had to do was put a big guy in a hockey mask and have him chase down teens with a machete, what will they do with the genius of nuance, humor, and satire the original RoboCop had? I shudder to think.

If you're watching the first two, why not make part three happen, right? For my money, one is in a completely different class, perhaps top 20 for its decade; two is a marked step down; and three is, as I said, a jumping of the shark. What RoboCop's lasting legacy is is hard to say because I don't know that another film like is has been made since. Maybe that's what makes it so great, that in the grand scheme of things, the film is sui generis. Not everything needs to be inspirational of influential in order to be fantastic. Sometimes being good on it's own is enough.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107978/

6 comments:

  1. Whilst I'm sure I will still not like it, I will re-visit this movie again soon; see if I can find anything in it worth liking.

    I much preferred the Atari ST game which came out a good two years before the movie and was based off the screenplay. It was in 3D from Robo's perspective and had a few reasonable car chases, going down the sewer after the splatterpunks and taking pot shots at them around corners, and the final fight with the robo-ninja which was as hard as nails. See: http://tinyurl.com/2b5rsr4

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  2. I don't remember that game, but it looks awesome. I know in part 2 at the arcade there were tons of Data East games, because the RoboCop games were released by them. Remember Bad Dudes?

    Robo Ninjas just lend themselves much more to a video game. RoboCop 3, at the very least, is funny to watch after you see the first two. It's bad, but not in an "I'm pissed off" kind of way, as opposed to an "I just saw the Fonz jump a shark on Happy Days" kind of way. It's not really worthy to wear the name RoboCop, but it does, so that's that.

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  3. I don't know the film isn't inspired enough to be funny. It's not like The Karate Kid Part 3 that amped up the villains when inspiration ran low, this was so uninspired and boring. Indeed it was even worse than Cyber Tracker...

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  4. Yeah, both Cybertrakcer films were basically superior versions of this film

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  5. That's good to know, I just found both Cyber Trackers on a 2 for 1 DVD for 99c.

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  6. I still have to get my hands on Cyber Tracker 2, even though I saw it on EncoreAction, mislabled in the TV guide as the first Cyber Tracker.

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