Robocop 2There is a pretty common perception when it comes to discussing the Robocop trilogy, which goes something like this – first one a bona fide classic, the second a bit of a mess and the third, well let’s just pretend that never happened eh?

But after trundling along to Earl’s Court at the weekend to take in the sci-fi smorgasboard that is the London Film and Comic Con and coming face to face with none other than Tom Noonan (Cain in Robocop 2), Movie Ramblings thought it was high time to dust off the boxset and give the sequels a reappraisal.

First things first – Robocop 2 is in no way, shape or form anything close to its in some ways groundbreaking predecessor.

It looks cheaper, is sanitised and features some pretty ropey effects, especially by modern standards.
But does that make it a poor film?

Well – yes and no.

Having been pushed into production after the success of Paul Verhoeven’s classic, the reins for the 1990 sequel were handed to none other than Irvin Kershner, of Empire Strikes Back fame.

But anyone expecting a new angle for the continuing adventures of Alex Murphy will be sorely disappointed, as Robocop 2 follows a pretty similar tread to the original.

Once again Murphy comes up against a menacing drug overlord, this time in the shape of Noonan’s Cain, as a modern-day Detroit teeters on the brink of collapse.

Tom Noonan as Cain

Tom Noonan as Cain

With OCP unhappy with Robocop and his tactics, the company are eagerly trying to design a new ‘future of law enforcement’, with very mixed results.

So what we get is a mish-mash of action, political wheeler-dealing and even some debate on policing and its place in society.

All this is fairly decent, but the thing really goes off the rails in a finale that sees Robocop square off against a new, fearsome cyborg (Cain no less) ñ a slam-bang conclusion that resembles a Godzilla-esque monster mash, with poor effects to boot.

There is still plenty to like here ñ the sarcastic wit of the original still rears its head from time to time in a series of fake television ads, and the whole ‘am I human or am I a machine’ dilemma that Murphy goes through (from a script by Frank Miller) is neatly handled.

Robocop goes a bit wrong

Robocop goes a bit wrong

 

 

But held up to the original there is just no comparison, and Robocop 2 comes across as nothing more than a pale shadow of the 1987 classic.

Forced in places, cliched in others, and, dare I say it, a lot less brutal than its predecessor, Kershner’s work just does not stand up.

At least it is still better than Robocop 3.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.

  • POOR effects?

    Phil Tippett’s stop motion is fantastic.