TRILOGY Law Enforcement x3
the late 80s, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven seems to have become
one of the most critically acclaimed directors of science fiction
action movies, even though he's only directed six movies since coming
to the US. Forgetting the lower points of his career such as Basic
Instinct and Showgirls, some of the best sci-fi action movies of
the past two decades like Total Recall, and Starship Troopers have
But it was the original
Robocop movie released in 1987 which helped kick-start this tangent
for someone for whom American sci-fi action movies were never really
considered. And this trilogy helps us remember not only his outstanding
beginnings, but also, in a kind of balance only yin yang is capable
of, documents one of the worst endings to what could have been a
This box set goes to show that there are some good-quality R2 DVD
titles out there if only people would put the effort in. And the
fact that this box set isn't yet available in R1 format is an added
bonus, at least for us in the UK, as I'm sure we're all fed up of
being treated to shoddy DVD content by now.
It contains 3 discs
for each of the films; the Robocop disc is the only one containing
any sort of special features - which is a bit of a shame as I'd
have liked to known more about Robocop 2, which confusingly everyone
seems to think was absolute rubbish.
For anyone unaware
of the movie (as strange as that may seem), Robocop is set in Detroit
sometime in the near future. The city is a mess, the crime rate
is way up, and a corrupt multinational corporation, Omni Consumer
Products (OCP) own most of pretty much everything, including the
weapons contracts for the military and the police force.
With the crime rate
so high the police want higher pay, but OCP are refusing the cough
up, so the police are on the verge of a strike. With crime as bad
as it is, this could prove disastrous for the city.
OCP has another project
underway though - Delta City. This is a project to build a new,
shiny metropolis where 'Old Detroit' stands. It's OCP's belief that
this will improve life for Detroit's citizens and stamp out crime.
But the project is having difficulty being carried out because of
the high-risk factor involved for the workers due to the escalating
So we are introduced to their second major project - a project to
create a 'super cop' to stamp out crime in the area, making Detroit
a safe place for the workers and the people who will eventually
live in Delta City
After a disaster with
the first model ED-209; up steps big-shot wannabe, Bob Mortimer
who introduces the Robocop program. This involves creating a cyborg
using a dead cop as a basis. With Murphy (Peter Weller) being brutally
tortured and left pretty much for dead near the start of the film,
he is the prime candidate.
From then on we follow
Robocop's crazy adventures and hilarious hi-jinks he gets up to
in Detroit. Of course I'm kidding, Robocop initially does a great
job of stamping out crime, but because his brain is still living,
he suffers from flashbacks of Murphy's life.
Remembering who killed
him, Robocop takes it upon himself to go straight to the source
of the crime problem and targets Clarence Boddicker and his gang.
The movie pretty much deals with Robocop's vengeance from there,
as well as showing how corrupt OCP is, especially when it comes
down to money and power over empathy and the safety of the people
THEY'RE NOT STUPID, THEY'RE SPECIAL
The Robocop disc is essentially the same as the Criterion Collection,
but including an extra recently made documentary, which is a relief
as 'Special Editions' which follow from Criterion Collections are
usually missing one or two features; such as the recent 'The Silence
Of The Lambs' Special Edition, which was in every way the Criterion
version but excluded - for reasons unknown to me - the commentary.
Thankfully, all of Robocop's features are intact.
The features include
the original theatrical release version, plus the director's cut
of the movie. This is an interesting feature - as I never knew a
director's cut existed - which includes a couple more particularly
gruesome scenes, especially when Murphy is being shot up by Clarence
This should have worked
well, but what they've quite cleverly done, I assume in order to
cut down on DVD space, is intersect the regular movie with the extended
scenes. 'Great' you think, but this does result in a few too many
layer changes throughout the movie. Now I don't know if newer DVD
players have un-noticeable layer changes, but on my player it's
blaringly obvious and a bit of a pain.
As previously mentioned
theres a new documentary which is highly informative; two featurettes
which originally appeared on the Criterion version. Deleted scenes,
which are really a selection of footage taken with a hand cam on
set, storyboard comparison, trailers, TV commercials and a photo
It also contains a
commentary by Paul Verhoeven, screenwriter Edward Neumeier and Jon
Davison. It's a great commentary in which you learn that Verhoeven
originally threw the script on the floor after reading the first
line (or maybe even the title). And it was his wife who began to
read it for herself and convinced him to take the movie. So well
done Mrs. Verhoeven! Also, you hear that Verhoeven sees the movie
as metaphor for the resurrection of Christ.
All the way through,
Edward Neumeier is a little over-hyped though and seems like he's
trying to compete with the eccentric Verhoeven for audibility. It's
a little annoying to say the least; you can't fault the guy's passion
for the movie, but there's no reason to get quite so worked up about
it. It had me wincing a few times anyway.
AAAND, THE REST
Robocop 2, directed by Irvin Kershner, follows on from the first.
Detroit is in a worse state than ever, crime is still on the increase,
and the cops, having had enough and still no pay rise from OCP,
are on strike.
The main villain this
time is Cain, inventor of the highly addictive drug, Nuke. This
is one of the biggest problems in Detroit and Robocop is going to
put an end to it. OCP meanwhile are trying to develop a new Robocop,
more powerful than the first, to help clean up Detroit for construction
of Delta City to take place.
Ignore what every other
critic has said about Robocop 2, this is a great movie. It's not
as good as the first, but is pure comic book sci-fi with just as
much action as the first. Which isn't surprising considering it
was penned by Frank Miller.
But what is surprising
is that Frank Miller also wrote the downright abysmal Robocop 3,
directed by Fred Dekker. I had high hopes for this movie after playing
the outstanding Amiga game adaptation. But with moments that will
prompt you to either bury your head under cushions or simply snap
the disc in two - such as a small child simply walking up to a hostile
ED-209, plugging a laptop into it's leg and persuading it to help
them; or even the now legendary 'flying Robocop' scene - it's hard
to find anything good about the movie.
The basic story is
that OCP are now throwing people out of their homes in order to
demolish Old Detroit and start construction on Delta City. There
is, however, and underground rebellion of citizens who are trying
to stop them. Robocop winds up helping them, and that's about it.
So all in all this
is a very good box set; it's just a shame that the trilogy ends
so badly, but for the Criterion version of Robocop, plus an extra
documentary, Robocop 2 and a lovely metallic coaster, you can't
go wrong for the price.
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