Robocop Trilogy: Review
The first ‘Robocop’, directed by Paul Verhoeven, is an action packed yet hilariously satirical look at the rising crime and greed of the 1980’s. I’ve never been that big of a Verhoeven fan other than with this movie and ‘Starship Troopers’, but this is most definitely some of the best work that he has ever done.
The mix of action, science fiction and satire work really well together. They end up having you both on the edge of your seat as you experience Murphy’s journey in to becoming Robocop but also laughing until you cry with some of the jokes that come flying off of the screen in amongst the various body parts.
This is most definitely the Peter Weller show however. In the hands of anyone else, the role of Murphy and Robocop could have been riddled with action movie cliches and would have had next to no depth, as evidenced by the performance in the third movie of the trilogy but I’m ahead of myself here. Weller gives the character such an emotional slant that you actually care about what happens to him and even root for him throughout the movie.
With the second movie in the Robocop trilogy, some of the satire is toned down massively. That’s one of the things that hurts it the most. The satire and look at the things that ruled the 1980’s is one of the things that set the original head and shoulders above other science fiction and action based movies of that decade. Here the absence of that makes the movie a more action based movie.
That’s not to say it’s a bad movie. It’s really not. It’s an enjoyable movie for the most part but it just lacks the depth of the original.
The set pieces here are absolutely action packed here and the special effects have actually aged really well when you consider just how old the movie actually is.
Peter Weller once again reprises his role as Murphy and Robocop and again rules the movie with his superb performance. There’s slightly less chance for emotional moments in this movie as it is pretty ‘balls to the wall’ for the most part but Weller still gives such a good performance that you can’t take your eyes off of him.
However, that quality goes massively downhill with the third installment and it’s easy to see why. While the first two movies were serious looks at crime, punishment and greed albeit with satire lashed over the top of it, this third movie comes across as little more than a limp parody of those movies.
There is no satire at all and the looks at the violence of action movies are completely washed away here. Instead, the action descends in to slapstick on more than once occasion and that really jarred me.
Also, without Weller, the character of Robocop comes across as little more than a tired science fiction cliche. It was Weller’s performances that gave the character the multiple layers that it need to raise it above the pitfall of other such movies. Here Robert Burke is the man that dons the suit and he just doesn’t do the character justice at all.
All across the board the performances here range from being awful to being massively over the top and melodramatic but not in the well handled way of the first two movies. There were so many groan worthy moments that I ended up feeling glad when the movie ended as I felt so disappointed by it.
All in all, this is a very good set.
Sadly the Robocop trilogy is let down by the really poor third movie that pretty much ignores everything that the first two movies set in to motion. That said, this set is well worth getting for the legendary original ‘Robocop’ movie as well as it’s slightly less successful but entertaining sequel. The third one is one that’s worth missing though.
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