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!
Robocop 3 (1993)
Directed by Fred Dekker
“.Robocop 3 is stupidly fun and mindlessly entertaining.”
First, there was the great Robocop, the classic sci-fi flick (previously discussed here last week). Then came along the eventual Robocop 2, which was perfectly good. Then…then there’s Robocop 3. You know, the one that gets the blame for shooting the franchise in the head with that big robogun. You know, the one with the ninja robot. The one without Peter Weller. The one that really tanked at the box office. The one rated PG-13. The one where Robocop can fly!
Yeah, that one. The surprising thing is that even though it’s the bastard of the franchise (or is it the TV show?), it’s no punk. And like a punk it’s reputation has been greatly exaggerated. Now I haven’t attempted to watch Robocop 3 in…hell, I don’t know, but I always remember it being the bad one. IMDB rates it a pathetic 3.7, which is downright a pathetic fall from grace. However, once I decided to give it another go I discovered something unexpected: Robocop 3 is stupidly fun and mindlessly entertaining. No, really.
To start, Robert Burke isn’t Peter Weller. Obviously, right? But the dude fills in the role well, even though he does little to make it his own. Sure, sure, Weller’s face is mostly covered, but the producers obviously thought audiences were dumb because they just tried to slide him in there as if we wouldn’t notice. When most franchises hire a new guy, they at least attempt a reboot or give the actor some breathing room. Burke does add a thicker layer of sappiness and tenderness to the role. While in Robocop 1 we got through limited emotional events (he is new at the roboman thing), Burke plays the character as if fresh from counseling. A little too loving. A little too loyal to those outside his orders. Oh, and speaking of actors, Robocop 3 does pack in the later-to-be big TV stars. Stephen Root, CCH Pounder, Rip Torn, Daniel von Bargen, Jeff Garlin, Shane Black (!), Bradley Whitford, and even freakin’ Mako show up in here.
Now, there’s some of obvious horrendous stuff here. First, the fact the producers released a PG-13 Robocop bitch slaps the original's legacy. If they couldn’t find a way to include violence as a theme, then it just isn’t doing Paul Verhoeven's film justice. Worst than that comes the (SPOILER!) death of Nancy Allen’s Office Lewis, who dies like an absolute punk (the bad kind). Her death really perhaps is the dumbest on screen “heroic” death I’ve ever seen. It comes when Robocop and her stand in front of a church filled with innocents, blocking the evil OCP army from cleaning them all out. Standing IN FRONT of the metal man WITHOUT a vest, she’s ready for a shootout, armed with a pistol against an army. And she's the one talking shit as if bullet proof too. She deserved to get dead. (END).
Actually, another fault comes from lacking a true villain. Yeah, we have McDaggett (John Castle), but compared to a Clarence Boddicker or a Dick Jones, he’s too light, too unrealistic. Then again, it would have been impossible to duplicate Boddicker. Fans remember him because he was so damn good. Instead, McDaggett just goes in a different direction; he works fine as yet another OCP member who has gone mad with power.I just wish they had given him at least a moment to truly define his character (think Dick Jones in the bathroom). Even better is the kung fu robot. My memory always told me it was what ruined part 3, but the character works. It just seems a little out of place.
t’s always interesting to note Robocop 3 marks Sin City/Dark Knight Returns/300 creator Frank Miller’s first entry into screenwriting. Knowing that and having read a lot of his work, the movie actually stinks of his style. The dude loves drugged out punks who speak in riddles. He loves over the top weaponry and all things kung fu. With Robocop 3, Miller adds a true comic book touch to the movie. He glues on an extra layer of silliness that works years later...as long as we know what the movie is: less budget, less blood, less effects.But still Robocop.