RoboCop 3

RoboCop 3Synopsis: It’s Megacop vs. Megacorp when Detroit’s cyborg crime-fighter hits the streets to protect the innocent – this time from corporate greed! “Laced with a sardonic sense of humor” (Drama-Logue) and packed with “action scenes coming at a deliberate clip” (Boxoffice), Robocop 3 is thrilling sci-fi adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat!

When the ruthless corporation that runs Motor City begins kicking families out of their homes to clear space for a profitable new real estate project, Robocop (Robert John Burke, Copland) joins forces with a renegade band of freedom fighters to save them. But Robocop must face some deadly foes, including a lethally efficient android and a dangerous gang of thugs. Robocop’s latest arsenal of high-tech weaponry only somewhat evens the battlefield, as this lone superhero takes on the entire army of corporate militia in an all-out war to control Detroit!

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RoboCop 3 6.5

eyelights: it could be worse. its relative coherence.
eyesores: it could be better.  its relative softness.

“I am now authorized to… be loyal as a puppy.”

Orion Pictures, the company that produced the original ‘RoboCop‘, obviously thought that they had a nascent franchise on their hands. After the success of the first one, not only did they greenlight a sequel, they had a third one mapped out. ‘RoboCop 3’ went into production immediately after ‘RoboCop 2‘ wrapped, with a planned release of summer 1992.

It would be delayed. Instead, it found its way into cinemas in November of 1993, where it died a quick death, hobbled by harsh reviews and backlash from fans, who decried the picture’s PG-13 rating – the first of the series, and a dramatic turn-around. Orion, who by then realized that RoboCop was growing in popularity with children, decided to cut the violence.

They went even further: in ‘RoboCop 3’, one of the main characters is a pre-teen girl with hacking skills who comes to the aid of the resistance fighters and RoboCop at various junctures in the film. It was to be the beginning of the end for the series, with this picture under-performing to the point of not recouping its budget – which was substantially lower than the others.

Ignoring the ending of the previous film, ‘RoboCop 3’ finds Omni Consumer Products headed by a different CEO, on the verge of bankruptcy, struggling to get Delta City off the ground and being bought out by a Japanese corporation. They’ve put together a team of Urban Rehabilitators (a.k.a Rehabs) to relocate civilians and make room for this new development.

These “Rehabs” are a brutal militia who beat people out of their neighbourhoods, demolish inhabited buildings and aren’t averse to killing any opposition in cold blood. OCP, however, has managed to quell any bad press with an ad campaign that portrays an idyllic future in Delta City. They also run animated ads for their Johnny Rehab toy line.

But there is a group of resistance fighters trying to stop the Rehabs from taking over their neighbourhood. With the help of Nikko, an 8-year old hacker, and the support of RoboCop, they will find ways to not only survive the Rehab onslaught and overcome the Japanese ninjas sent to help OCP out, but actually turn the tide against the power-hungry corporation.

When I first saw ‘RoboCop 3’, I was gutted: it was a kid’s movie starring a kid, who actually befriends and saves RoboCop. Ugh. Plus she can’t act. Christ. I was so disillusioned that I wanted nothing to do with the franchise afterwards (aside for the original, naturally). I paid no attention to the television series, rolled my eyes at the cartoon and didn’t even notice the mini-series.

So, naturally, I went into this viewing with extremely low expectations – especially since I had much preferred ‘RoboCop 2’ the first time around and didn’t think it was quite so good this time. I fully expected to hate ‘RoboCop 3’ even more. And yet, strangely enough, I actually sort of enjoyed it this time. It was only after reviewing my notes that its awfulness hit me.

Still, it could be worse.

The good

  • For starters, the film is more coherent than its predecessor, even if it was also co-written by Frank Miller (whose script was butchered yet again).
  • There are some principles being bandied about, like when the cops all quit instead of joining the Rehabs to help OCP meet their deadline. Nice.
  • The picture look better than its predecessor; it still looks like a straight-to-video picture half of the time, but not nearly as much.
  • The cast is filled with a bevy of character actors whose faces I recognized and whom I like. That was a nice perk, all things considered.
  • Basil Poledouris returns after missing out the last time. I was starting to think that the RoboCop theme was missing, until he suddenly pumped it out. Yes!

The not-so-good

  • RoboCop is now played by Robert John Burke and, while he lends the character a terrific new voice, Burke over-emotes all the time, looking anything but robotic – to the extent that his alloy throat moves when he talks, as though it were latex (which it probably is, right?).
  • Nikko plays too much of a part in the movie and Remy Ryan (who plays her) is not an especially good actress. Admittedly, good child actors are rare, but give her less screen time, then!
  • Bruce Locke, who plays the “ninja” has no screen presence. You literally don’t give a crap when he’s on screen, even though he’s supposed to be menacing.
  • The film doesn’t follow the events of the previous film. In fact, it seems to ignore them, leaving a big gaping hole in between. WTF.
  • Nikko is taken in by the resistance group after she is separated from her parents. That’s a good thing. But then they take her on a raid at a police armory! Smart, real smart.
  • Being a hacker, Nikko helps the resistance by taking over an ED-209 unit that they didn’t anticipate would be guarding the place. How convenient. Further to that, she makes it look so easy to do that it’s a wonder more people don’t do it.
  • RoboCop and Lewis find the resistance holed up in a Church but the Rehabs show up. He’s damaged in the fight and joins the resistance, who escape through a trapdoor under the pew. How he followed them down is beyond me, given how clunky and inarticulate he is…
  • RoboCop pratfalls on his face on the way to the group’s new hideout. This is absolutely silly, at best designed to make the kiddies laugh.
  • A couple of resistance fighters actually carry RoboCop. He should weigh at least 400 pounds, probably way more, you’d think, but he looks so light in this movie.
  • RoboCop has a tracker on him but Nikko finds it and they throw it out. But, for some reason, OCP couldn’t even record his location up that point. Phew! Good for the resistance!
  • OCP’s Japanese owners send a “ninja” (a.k.a. a martial artist with a sword) to take care of things. It’s not just a stereotype, it’s a lame opponent for RoboCop. Folks, this is not 1982 anymore!
  • Nikko is sent out to get Dr. Lazarus, the OCP scientist who does the maintenance work on RoboCop. She goes on her own, naturally (who needs help when you’re old enough to tie your shoelaces?).
  • Coincidentally, the resistance had stolen RoboCop’s prototype flight harness during their initial raid. Which Lazarus had built. Wow. What a stroke of luck!
  • RoboCop burns down the Rehabs’ HQ and then chases their leader in a pimp’s tricked out car (in a scene that the makers of ‘Terminator 3‘ must have seen). Ouch.
  • When RoboCop returns to the resistance’s HQ, after they were attacked by the Rehabs, he finds it patched with puny, manicured fires. It looks so pathetic.
  • The so-called “ninja” cuts off RoboCop’s arm, but, thankfully, it didn’t damage him one bit: he fell right next to an arm-blaster attachment, was able to put it on and use it immediately without any issues. Phew!
  • Nikko goes off to save Dr. Lazarus, who has been incarcerated by the Rehabs after their attack. Of course, being an 8-year-old, she pulls it off flawlessly.
  • There’s a fight between the Rehabs and the resistance (who have been supplemented by the cops) and RoboCop saves the day by flying over the melee in his jetpack. Fine. The problem is that the visual effects are so bad that it ruins what should be an impressive, heroic moment. Le sigh…
  • RoboCop goes to OCP HQ and finds two more ninjas waiting for him. Thankfully, Nikko shows up and hacks into them, saving the day. Again.

Seriously, for all its flaws, I wasn’t revolted by ‘RoboCop 3’. It wore out its welcome by the end, however, and it’s certainly not nearly of the same caliber as the original. But it falls neatly into the same pile of disposable sci-fi action films as many other films: it’s entertaining enough, it’s coherent enough, and for kids of approximately 13 years of age, it would likely be a treat.

All others, however, are likely to be disappointed with it.

Date of viewing: April 21, 2015

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