Despite being seven years old when the first 'Robocop ' was released, I remember watching it with my brothers quite frequently. "I'd buy that for a dollar!" is a line we still quote to this day. But everything that 'Robocop' director Paul Verhoeven got right in the campy classic is absent from the first sequel. 'Robocop 2' tries to mimic the original, but fails. It's not nearly as terrible as 'Robocop 3,' but it's still pretty bad.
Directed by the late Irvin Kershner - most notably known for directing the best of the 'Star Wars ' films, 'The Empire Strikes Back' - 'Robocop 2' tries to follow Verhoeven's lead, but through execution and screenplay horribly misses the mark. The streets are portrayed like those of Joel Schumacher's 'Batman' films. Written by '300' and 'Sin City' graphic novelist Frank Miller, 'Robocop 2' features too much of the bad guys' story and not enough Robocop.
The OCP-contracted police force of Detroit is on strike. Robocop is one of the only officers out there trying to stop crime in the middle of a looting city. A new drug craze has made crime even more prominent than before. To afford the expensive "nuke" addiction, users have taken to stealing and killing for money. One lone cyborg is roaming the streets trying to bring down nuke and it's creator Cain.
At the same time, OCP has the city's nuts in a vice. Detroit owes OCP more than $37 million. If they don't pay up soon, OCP will own Motor City. The mayor is doing whatever it takes to keep the city from being handed over to the corrupt organization, so OCP creates a new cyborg even bigger, stronger and deadlier than Robocop to stop the mayor from saving the city. Robocop's hunt for Cain ends up tying into the OCP/mayor storyline, bringing the story to a stop-motion robot battle.
Just like Verhoeven's original (and in 'Starship Troopers'), 'Robocop 2' is filled with OCP commercials and newscasts - only here they are nerdy and annoying. But nothing in 'Robocop 2' is more annoying than Cain's potty-mouth sidekick kid. He doesn't quite reach the annoying factor of teenage John Connor in 'Terminator 2,' but he's still painful to watch. I've never rooted for a kid character to get killed - until now.
'Robocop 2' is trying so hard to match 'Robocop.' The melodramatic overacting is still present, the violence and gore is still heightened, and Peter Weller is still stiff and terrible - but it just doesn't work. The fun is missing. The supposed-to-be over-the-top characters are static and boring. There's nothing to 'Robocop 2' that makes me ever want to revisit it again.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has transferred 'Robocop 2' onto a Region A BD-50 which arrives in an eco-friendly blue keepcase. Upon loading the disc, a firmware upgrade reminder pops on screen that you can skip past, followed by a skippable 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment bit. The FBI warning that plays just before the main menu is not bypassable. Upon selecting play, the MPAA R-rated warning runs before the feature begins.
'Robocop 2' has been given a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer and is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Although the video quality of 'Robocop 2' is much better than you would expect from a 21-year-old transfer of a bad B-movie, it is nothing to write home about.
The odd thing about the video quality is how it gradually gets worse the farther you get into the film. 'Robocop 2' starts off relatively strong. The print is extremely clean. The high definition sharpness exposes the terrible make-up of a helmet-less Robocop, something that never stuck out before. Although filled with a standard amount of film grain, there's not any dirt or noise. Blacks are strong and deep. But an hour later, all of that changes.
During the second half of the film, noise becomes evident. Blacks become shades of gray, the specks and scratches of a dirty print show up and noise becomes even more prominent. During the shots that blend stop-motion animation with live shots, halos are noticeable around the animated robots.
The areas in which the video quality of 'Robocop 2' never fails are sharpness, depth and detail. While watching the Blu-ray, small words inscribed on Robocop's bullet-proof suit were not only noticeable, but legible. These details were never lost despite the poor second half. Sure, there are a few blurry shots, but they most likely result from cinematography and not this transfer.
Only one English language audio track is available on 'Robocop 2' - an unimpressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that falls flat. There's also a 5.1 Dolby Digital track in Spanish and a 5.1 DTS track in French.
Until action occurs, the surround and rear speakers are hardly used. However, during the movie's many warehouse action sequences, all speakers come to life. Your home theater will be shaking from LFE-filled explosions and gunfire during the conference room/city streets finale. And you'll be especially grossed out during a surgical skull cap removal scene as the drills and bone crushing sounds fill your room.
But your system is rendered fairly useless for scenes outside the ones described. Dialog is typically quiet, requiring you to bump the sound up - which you only have to lower again for the action scenes.
'Robocop 2' could definitely benefit from a better-balanced mix.
Just like the movie itself, this Blu-ray is hardly worth recommending. One hour of great video quality does not make for a great Blu-ray. Had the video quality of the second hour matched that of the first, it would have something going for it - but combined with the lazy audio mix, not to mention the movie itself, this is only for the fans.