Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Robocop 2" (1990)

"Robocop 2" (1990)
Starring Peter Weller, Nancy Allen and Tom Noonan
Written by Frank Miller and Walon Green
Directed by Irvin Kershner

That's not CGI, man... That's a stop-motion model!
Sigh.  Sequels, man.  Sometimes, they're awesome ("Wrath of Khan", anyone?).  But a lot of times, they're just plain friggin' weak. 

1987's "Robocop" is a favorite of mine.  Paul Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier had concocted a fun mix of action, sci-fi and satire that just roasted the culture of the 1980s.  When 1990 rolled around and famed 'Batman' comic book writer Frank Miller was given a shot at Hollywood, we ended up with "Robocop 2," a mess of a movie supremely lacking in what made the original special.

With the city of Detroit tearing itself apart under a full-blown police strike, Robocop is unable to stop the spread of a dangerous new drug called Nuke.  The creator of Nuke, Cain, is a criminal with delusions of godhood, and his followers treat him as such.  Omni-Consumer Products has spent millions trying to recreate the success of Robocop by creating a second crime-fighting cyborg, but with no success.  One scientist among their ranks as a radical idea: instead of implanting the brain of a cop into the cyborg, why not try a criminal?  Vain and addicted to drugs, it would be the perfect, obedient crime-fighter.

Yeah, right.

Suffice it to say, implanting Cain's brain into a deadly cyborg turns out to be a colossally idiotic move.  The thing goes berserk after its old enemies and nuts at the mere sight of the Nuke it's so badly addicted to.  And Robocop's the one that has to stop it.

I wish the plot of the movie was actually as good as I made it sound here.  But frankly, the whole thing is a mess.  It meanders about with ridiculous subplots that go nowhere until Cain actually becomes a robot in the final half hour.  The movie doesn't have any of the biting satire the first film had, though it sort of tries with the inclusion of more silly TV commercials and news broadcasts.  But those are oddly placed throughout the film and don't really contribute anything of worth.  The movie's attempts at 'edgy' are lame, too.  Instead of the cartoonish ultra-violence of the first movie, we just get a little kid drug dealer who swears and fires a gun. 

Irvin Kershner's direction is okay, but nothing special.  He stages some solid action sequences, but nothing aside from the end battle is particularly memorable.  Speaking of that final battle, this movie was made in 1990, before CGI became the big thing in visual effects.  So here, what we have is the absolute pinnacle of stop-motion animation technology.  I have to say, this is definitely the shining moment for this film, because these stop-motion effects are actually pretty excellent and hold up well even 20 years later. 

But aside from that, this movie really doesn't have much to offer.  If you must watch everything Robocop, then go right ahead.  Or if you just want to admire some snazzy effects work, this movie's got that, too.  But at least it's better than "Robocop 3"... which really, really sucks.