Sunday, May 1, 2011

RoboCop 3 (1993)

Starring Robert John Burke, Nancy Allen, Rip Torn
Directed by Fred Dekker

Remember "RoboCop"? That was a fun movie. In a city gone awry, you could always depend on this cyborg policeman to come in and save the day in order to 1) serve the public trust, 2) protect the innocent and 3) uphold the law (we'll just ignore that pesky little fourth one). It had surprisingly intense action scenes, brought about questions over corporate power and human life, and gave us some comedy to enjoy in between all that. It may not be the best action movie ever made, but it is still a very well-made one that is great to watch even today. The second film of the trilogy was not as good as the first, but it had its moments. The third one on the other hand, well...

(Warning: there will be spoilers. Not that you care)

It starts out in Detroit where the OCP corporation, now under the control of a Japanese company, is tearing down parts of the city using a paramilitary force known as the Urban Rehabilitators, or Rehabs, to make room for the new Delta City. As a result, many people are forced out of their homes and relocated, causing a group of rebels to take up arms to stop the threat to their livelihoods. Okay...I know that this is supposed to take place in the dystopian future, but this is really getting over the top. Sure, Detroit has never been known for having great local politics (in the series or in real life), but the filmmakers are starting to treat it like it is a third world country! Is this the only American city that this is happening to?! Is this even legal?! Shouldn't the National Guard or the rest of the U.S. military be doing something about this?! But it is pointless for me to be talking about all this, because we aren't going to be discussing any of this in the film, right? I thought so. Ugh...

So where is RoboCop in all this? Well, we don't come see him for the first 17 minutes of the movie, which is kind of dumb. When we does show up, you may notice that he is played by actor Robert John Burke, as oppose to the last few films where he was played by Peter Weller. What effect does this have on the film? None. Seriously, I didn't even know about this casting change until I started writing this review. Guess that is what happens when the character you play has a mechanical voice and a Silly Putty face that is mostly covered by a helmet the majority of the time. Oh well.

Anyway, he saves a bunch of cops from an ambush, including his partner Officer Anne Lewis (played once again by Nancy Allen), but in the process violates a direct order from his superior, Sgt. Warren Reed (played once again by Robert DoQui, in all of his overacting glory). After this event, there is a big debate over the extent of his human functions....just like there was in the second movie. Um, guys, I thought we had settled this already. We are literally having the same conversation about whether he is human or not! And once again, his humanity is being defended by a sympathetic female scientist (Jill Hennessy) and his robotic-ness is being defended by some corporate douchebag (Bradley Whitford, who must have taken this part to prepare to for his more far more sinister role as the corporate douchebag in "Billy Madison" ). Talk about lazy writing. And where will this plot line lead us? Nowhere. They make a big deal for a little bit, then almost completely drop it. Pointless!

RoboCop, conflicted over his role in the whole Delta City situation, finds the hideout of the rebels, with Lewis tagging along. However, they are ambushed by the Rehabs, and Lewis is killed by their leader, Commander Paul McDagget (John Castle). Really? Now you're going to kill off the main female character of the series? Nice job, movie, nice job!

After escaping, RoboCop goes underground with the rebels, but he is badly damaged from the fight and needs to be fixed up, so they bring in Dr. Marie Lazarus, the scientist from earlier who had defended his humanity. During this time, he develops a bond with a named girl Nikko (Remy Ryan) who was adopted by the rebels and is a computer whizkid.
Ok, this is mildly creepy. Let's just look at a photo of what Remey Ryan looks like now.
That's better.

So after he is fixed, he goes looking for McDagget. When he gets there, he finds out that the rebels are being sold down the drain by one of their own, Coontz, played by Stephen Root, who also played Milton in "Office Space". So what did they give him in exchange for turning against them?
Damn it, we should have known!

So the rebels are ambushed again, and they are either killed, captured or forced to flee. RoboCop doesn't return to the base for a really long time...for some reason...and by the time he gets back, he is confronted with the worst type of evil: NINJA ROBOT!!! That's right, the Japanese company has developed a robot called an Otomo (Bruce Locke) that is far more dangerous and agile than its cyborg predecessor.
And you thought this film series didn't have enough problems distancing itself from that other franchise.

Well, copycat issues aside, this would have been a cool addition to the film except...the Otomo kind of sucks. Sure, it has some good moves and a cool sword that can cut through metal, but it does not utilizes them well. It easily could have gone up to RoboCop and sliced his head off, finishing the job in about ten seconds tops. But nooooo! It has to show off its cool fighting moves, giving RoboCop plenty of time to blow its head off with a gun! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

While this is going on, the rebels and the regular police have formed an alliance and are in the mist of a battle with the Rehabs, who are being aided by paid off criminals. Using untrained street thugs as part of your private army; don't think anything will go wrong with that scenario, do you, McDagget? Meanwhile Marie and Lazarus infiltrate OCP headquarters. Before this, Lazarus gives a television broadcast saying that OCP only cares about its own profits and not the well being of Detroit. Gee, took the public a while to figure that one out, didn't they?! After saving the rebels and the other police officers by defeating the Rehabs, RoboCop goes to OCP, where he is confronted by McDagget and two Otomo, one of which is damaged and now looks like this:
"Take me seriously!"

After a struggle that destroys those things, he saves Lazarus and Nikko, McDagget gets blown up, along with the rest of the building, and the day is saved. The head of the Japanese company (Mako) arrives at the scene and bows respectfully to RoboCop. Ok, sorry, I'm calling bull on this one. Earlier in the film, you told McDagget to keep it cool, but you looked the other way by saying you didn't want to know about his tactics in concerns to dealing with the resistance. Now you are trying to play innocent saying RoboCop is a stand up guy. Screw you, buddy! But once again, it doesn't matter, because the film then comes to an end. Pathetic.

It is hard to say if there is one thing that sums up what is wrong with this film; it's mostly just a bunch of little things that just add up after a while. To start off with, the action is kind of dull, the plot is inconsistent, and there does not really seem to be any progression from the last two films. It is as if the writers were trying to create a jumping off point but could not quite take the dive. Apparently some of the blame goes to Frank Miller. Yes, that Frank Miller. He had written the screenplay for "RoboCop 2" but the final product was far different from his original vision. He was then brought on to write for this movie and many of his ideas from his previous script were used for the plot, hence the possible reason for the repetitiveness in this sequel (though they were still drastically altered from what he had wanted). That being said, it looked like director Fred Dekker had final control over everything, so I'm going to go ahead and place most of the blame on him.

This is a bit ironic, because they were things that were missing from this sequel that could have been added. One of the things I was disappointment about the second film was that it did not focus more on RoboCop's family; they hinted at it in the beginning but instead took it in a different direction. So even though my expectations were low for this one, I was hoping that it would at least try to address that issue, but it didn't; it just kind of skimmed it over with some flashbacks.

Another aspect that got thrown to the side, and I can't believe I am upset by this but I am, were the commercials! Those fake commercials that they used to show during the newscasts in the first two films! When I saw them in the original film, I thought they were distracting at first, but they grew on me, and by the second one, they had become a trademarked form of comic relief for the series. In this one, however, there are only two of them, both of which are pretty lame. No fair, I was kind of looking forward to them! What a rip off!

So that's that. I think this film serves as an example of when a series simply runs out of ideas (justly or unjustly) and probably should have either had more effort put into it or have just stopped while it had the chance. I admit that this was not quite as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it is still a waste of time nonetheless. I do not recommend it.

I do not own any of these images. They are being used for entertainment purposes only. Please don't sue me.