THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Directed by Irvin Kershner
"It’s a flawed flick, but it still is a hell of a lot of fun."
We’re guilty wanting more of something that was good the first time. Sometimes it’s that second bowl of ice cream or that second burrito (ok, I’m hungry writing this). However, most of the time that second helping never ends up quite as satisfying as the first.
It’s a general rule of thumb, and it works with movies too. Generally, sequels suck (and yes, we all know the ones that don’t) because either the studio rushed a project into production before it was ready or they waited too damn long to make the thing. Rarely do they equal whatever made them memorable in the first place.
Now, with Robocop revived and all slicked up for modern times to serve the good people of Detroit once again, it seems like a fine time to revisit the sequel to that never lived up to the Paul Verhoeven classic. Not that it’s a bad thing. After all, that extra burrito might not have been as good, but damn it, it’s still a burrito.
Ok, first thing first. Robocop 2 isn’t Robocop. It lacks the wit, social satire, and power of the original. Hell, the story isn’t exactly clear.
Let’s just get it all that out of the way.
Without original director Paul Verhoeven and rushed release date, things were bound to get all f*cked up. And that sucks, too, because Verhoeven was willing to come back and man the sequel but only if the studio allowed him the time to create a proper damn script. Orion, in their studio wisdom, decided speed was better than quality and commissioned comic great (but shitty screenwriter) Frank Miller to write the sequel.
The result: an entertaining movie that failed to live up to the original.
Of course, that’s what history says. For me, I still dig Robocop 2. It’s a flawed flick, but it still is a hell of a lot of fun as long as the compare/contrast game is avoided. Robocop 2, directed by sequel master Irvin Kershner (Empire Strikes Back), imitates enough of Verhoeven’s style to make it nearly equally enjoyable. It moves along and dishes out the punishment.
Usually, sequels allow our main character to grow, but Robocop being all robotic that's a little difficult. However, I like that Peter Weller was allowed to act a little more by goofing up the character. After OCP messes with his programming, he turns into a smiling douche who can't be nice enough. Who doesn’t enjoy a good old fashion robot-acting-a-little-bit-silly routine? It mainly happens when the real Bad News Bears rob an electronics shop and Robocop ends up trying to give them proper advice...and ends up looking like a dick. Thankfully, the scene doesn’t last too long, but long enough for the funny to play out before he commits robot suicide for a reboot.
Something that truly defined the first film came from the quality of villains. With Clarence J. Boddicker, Dick Jones, Bob Morton, Nash, Emil, and others, they all make for A-quality bad dudes with each getting memorable lines and styles. A rare feat.
With them all dead, however, Robocop 2 smartly didn’t attempt to mimic the same kinda nutty. Instead, our main villain is Tom Noonan as Cain, who always brings a subdued level of psycho. He’s not a yeller, but the tall, quiet guy who doesn’t have to say a word to show power.
In place of the sleazy Morton is a sleazy woman (Belinda Bower) who’ll do anything to succeed by winning the trust of the old man (Dan O’Herihy) from the first film who returns to step up his assholeness since Dick Jones is, well, dead. But the real villain is the little kid, Hob (Gabriel Damon). At first, he’s an eye rolling character…a little shit who talks big and tries to act tough. But as the movie continues, you believe he might be able to hang with the worst of them. After all, the city’s top criminal Cain is raising him, so he was bound to have some major social issues.
Unlike Robocop 3, this sequel still tries to match the original’s level of violence and mayhem, which it thankfully does. It may not have Verhoeven's style, but it does have Robocop on a motorcycle, which is pretty bad ass all by itself...not to mention him smashing someone's brains at the end. That's pretty cool, too.