Cable4Ever - Robocops


The lasting contributions to pop culture this film has given us are of course the hilarious ED-209 and the one bad guy getting mutated by toxic waste.  Coming in a close second is the catch phrase "I'd buy that for a dollar!", which several characters in the movie liked as well.  Me personally, I kinda liked that digital readout on the grenade.  Oh yeah, and they predicted the use of CDs for video.

For those of you who have missed out on this landmark cinematic event, it is in this viewer's humble opinion director Paul Verhoeven's best Hollywood film, although I'm starting to doubt that after seeing it over again recently.  At least Flesh+Blood had a certain period piece feel to it.  This was the first ultra-violent comic-book hero movie, although I don't think it was a comic book before it was a movie.  In Act One, Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) gets about as blown to bits as one can by uber-villains and maintain the film's R rating.  He barely survives to tell the tale, getting transformed into a cyber-cop by the megacorporation OCP, or Omni Consumer Products.  Act Two has him strutting his stuff as the new guy on the force, a dude dubbed Robocop.  After a few episodes / skirmishes to establish character, using his new body-lift to maximum Action Movie advantage, Robocop finds the mission that will consume the rest of the movie: revengeance on the uber-villains what got him at the beginning of the film.  (Make that EXTREME re-vengeance)  Meanwhile he has to fend off OCP's rival cop-bot, ED-209.  And finally Act Three is, well, what do you think it's going to be, a sad ending?  Watch out for those flying hubcaps! (crew only)

Verhoeven's trademark, the use of news reports to punctuate the movie's passages is used here satirically, about as good as it was in 'Starship Troopers'.  However, the film also has a mean-spirited juvenile streak, which some may find too intractable to ever really enjoy the movie.  It sticks out like a sore thumb more and more as the years drag on.  But that's big business for you, in all its beautifully ugly testonerated glory.  After all, it was the go-go 80s, the era of punkish haircuts and unisex movie eyeliner, so it fit right in.  The final scene is kinda clever (Corporate Vice Presidents take heed), although the guy's arms seem a lot longer than they should be for some reason when he's flying out the window.



Having seen it when it was first released, I was disappointed like most moviegoers who went expecting to be entertained, but I have a little appreciation for it now as social satire.  Where some could see the first Robocop as a Republican movie, Robocop 2 is more of a Democratic movie.  Action movies have to take a certain pride in their violence.  Robocop 2 seems filled with shame about its more violent sequences, as does the audience, but also puts children in some unusual roles: one as a hotshot drug dealer, and a whole group of kids as the Bad News Bears kicking ass and making a profit in the L.A. Riots.  Also, Robocop battles not only a sequel-bot, but his greatest nemesis yet: encoded Political Correctness!

My original intention was to watch it again to see Tom Noonan, and he does a terrific job as the ultimate drug dealer who gets his own air time on the news, for God's sake!  Robocop's issues with his old family, a dangling plot thread from the first Robocop flick, are dealt with here way too completely.  But more impressive is the film's statement about the deteriorating condition of life in urban America.  It is ambiguous as to what point in time the film takes place, but it takes its setting pretty much from early '90s America under the Bush administration, an America even more rampant with crime than in the first Robocop.  The players try to keep the proceedings as entertaining as possible, but the underlying question the film poses is: how many aspects of our lives should major corporations be allowed to control?  And should they be allowed to own the cities themselves?  At least, if I remember correctly, the old man of OCP was trying to broker a deal like that.  Apparently the third Robocop film takes these themes to the next level, with Robocop leading the people's resistance in a Lord of the Rings fashion, but I haven't seen it.

Well, if this is the best job the director of The Empire Strikes Back can do, what hope is there for the rest of us?  He directed Dan O'Herlihy as though Max Von Sydow were playing the part.


-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan

(c)2004 Bulk Entertainment

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