RoboCop 2 Preview

Jeez, these squeakuels are long. Almost as bad as a book cycle. JK, book cycles are the worst. Anyway, this week we move onto the Action entry of the cycle and it seemed fitting that we would hit one of the worst reviewed action sequels of all time. That’s right, we’re not only watching RoboCop 2 but the much abhorred follow-up RoboCop 3! Another two-for-one this week. The first one is a classic satire of capitalism, so I can’t wait to see how RoboCop three shits all over that. First up, the BONUS film. Let’s go!

RoboCop 2 (1990) – BMeTric: 38.5

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(Interesting from a theoretical perspective: Basically the votes has increased dramatically and by virtue of regression to the mean the rating has steadily increased as well. All the while this has somehow come out perfectly balanced such that the BMeTric has barely changed at all. Kind of cool considering the movie has a halfway decent BMeTric (somewhere around where Razzie nominees typically sit, top 10-20 worst films of the year.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Appallingly (and unnecessarily) mean, ugly sequel in which coldblooded corporation czar O’Herlihy and drug kingpin Noonan threaten to end Robo’s existence — while the laboratory whizzes cook up a bigger, “better” cyborg cop to take his place. Offensively violent and humorless. Phil Tippett’s stop-motion animation is the film’s only asset.

(Wow, that is an incredibly step down from Robocop. I can see ugly for sure, but I’m surprised by humorless. I vaguely remember this film from my childhood, specifically that a guy ends up with his brain in a jar and a weird CGI face.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxumzn82V9s

(I usually don’t complain about such things but … they do actually just give away arguably the main twist of the film (that Kane, the drug guy becomes RoboCop 2). I’m also shocked Gabriel Damon didn’t make an appearance since he is a gigantic part of the film. It just kind of looks terrible (although you do kind of see the money in the trailer, it is a much grander story than the first in that way at least))

Directors – Irvin Kershner – (Known For: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back; Never Say Never Again; Eyes of Laura Mars; The Return of a Man Called Horse; One Born Every Minute; BMT: RoboCop 2; Notes: … Why did I think Kershner had way more terrible movies than that. Interesting guy having been a surprise pick for Episode V, but not much else in his career.)

Writers – Edward Neumeier (characters) – (Known For: Starship Troopers; RoboCop; RoboCop (2014); Starship Troopers 3: Marauder; BMT: RoboCop 3; Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid; RoboCop 2; Notes: Basically all of his credits are based on the original RoboCop (which is is credited for characters in all but the first) and Starship Troopers (which he was very much involved with, he even directed the third). It appears that he declined the vice-presidency of Universal to make RoboCop and that is how he met Verhoeven and got involved with Starship Troopers.)

Michael Miner (characters) – (Known For: RoboCop; RoboCop (2014); BMT: RoboCop 3; Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid; Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace; RoboCop 2; Notes: For a guy who wrote RoboCop and directed Lawnmower Man 2 and Anacondas 2 this guy has nothing about him! I found this variety article about him making a movie names Marathon … yeah that movie never got made.)

Frank Miller (story & screenplay) – (Known For: 300; Sin City; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; 300: Rise of an Empire; BMT: RoboCop 3; Elektra; The Spirit; RoboCop 2; Notes: Most well known as a comic book writer it kind of shocks me he wrote a movie so long ago. He wrote this guy in 1990 and the third in 1993 and then nothing else until 2005 over ten years later. Apparently this movie is nothing like the script he wrote … makes you wonder how they convinced him to write the third.)

Walon Green (screenplay) – (Known For: WarGames; Dinosaur; The Wild Bunch; Wages of Fear; The Border; The Hi-Lo Country; Crusoe; BMT: RoboCop 2; Solarbabies; Eraser; Notes: Just recently watched his magnum opus Solarbabies (apparently he was the “big shot” writer Mel Brooks got to write a first draft before handing over complete control to Metrov, the real genius behind that film). Pretty solid filmography he is mostly known as a documentary filmmaker.)

Actors – Peter Weller – (Known For: Star Trek Into Darkness; RoboCop; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; Naked Lunch; Mighty Aphrodite; Al di là delle nuvole; Cat Chaser; Shoot the Moon; Shakedown; Ivans Xtc; The New Age; BMT: The Sin Eater; RoboCop 2; Undiscovered; Leviathan; Repentance; Skin Trade; Screamers; Notes: That’s Dr. Peter Weller to you, he was awarded his Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance Art from UCLA in 2014. Most well known for RoboCop (naturally), but The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonza in Across the 8th Dimension as well. I have a weird fondness for his villainous turn on 24 personally.)

Belinda Bauer – (Known For: UHF; Winter Kills; BMT: Poison Ivy 2; RoboCop 2; Flashdance; Notes: Retired from acting now, she is a psychologist. From Australia, and was in Sklog Childhood Movie Hall of Fame … as a mud wrestler? How strange.)

Also stars John Glover – (Who was in the legendary Batman & Robin)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $45,681,173 (N/A)

(Not great. Makes one wonder why a third was considered. We might be hitting a little Laurentiis mirror here. Where Dino De Laurentiis was going to declare bankruptcy so he made one last desperate attempt at releasing a movie for all of the IP he owned … and they were all trash and basically sunk 1986 as a year for bad movies. In this case the third movie was made two years later while Orion was starting to go under, and might have just been a desperate last effort at saving the company.)

#25 for the Cyborg / Android / Robot genre

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(Actually made about the same as Robocop (just with a much larger budget). Actually funny that is it right at a start to a boom that was exemplified by Terminator 2. Also previous BMT Deadly Friend is on the list at 39. Terminator: Genisys may have killed the boom we’ve been seeing recently, although there is nothing like yet another Transformers movie to provide a shot in the arm for a genre like this.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (11/34): No consensus yet.

(Uh oh, looks like someone needs a consensus: Half-baked and unfinished, RoboCop 2 is gruesome and humorous at turns, but without impact. Basically it feels like RoboCop 2 was an unfinished idea with the ironic-gore peppered in without thought. Sounds fine to me honestly.)

Poster – RoboSklog 2 (C+)

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(Considering that the original RoboCop poster is brilliant, it is hard not to be harsh with the grading. I think this poster is a pretty boring kind of sad example of just a giant picture of a face. The reflection of the primary bad guy of the film could have maybe saved the poster a bit, but I still think it is pretty bac=d)

Tagline(s) – He’s back to protect the innocents. (C+)

(I don’t really like the tagline. It doesn’t flow with the innocents part. And the reference (RoboCop Primary Directive #2 is to protect the innocent) isn’t so well known to really register. It barely registered with me and I literally watched three RoboCop movies in three days.)

Keyword(s) – drugs; Top Ten by BMeTric: 89.1 Disaster Movie (2008); 75.8 LOL (2012); 72.7 Basic Instinct 2 (2006); 71.4 Showgirls (1995); 67.1 Year One (2009); 65.1 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 62.6 Ghosts of Mars (2001); 59.4 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991); 59.1 The Crow: City of Angels (1996); 56.1 Sliver (1993);

(Kind of an amazing list in a few ways. First, I’m kind of stunned at how bad Year One is on this list. I mean, I fell asleep during that movie and really didn’t like it, but getting even close to 70 alongside something like Showgirls is ridiculous. We do need to see LOL don’t we? We do. I don’t want to. Maybe when we do another Merde (foreign films adapted into American films) we’ll get to it. We need to do more classic horror franchises as well.)

Notes – Although the producers loved Frank Miller’s original version of the script, they quickly realized it was unfilmable as written. The final screen version was heavily rewritten and bears only a superficial resemblance to Miller’s story. In 2003, Miller’s screenplay was adapted into a comic book series titled, appropriately, “Frank Miller’s RoboCop”. (Again, it makes me shocked they managed to get him back for the third film)

After the success of RoboCop (1987), director Paul Verhoeven and the original screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner were immediately approached for a sequel by the studio. According to Verhoeven, he didn’t want to make the kind of sequel that the studio had in mind. He felt going forward so quickly with their ideas would make it feel like he was attempting to cash in on the first film, and he only wanted to do a follow-up if it was original and innovative. Neumeier and Miner had already presented a very rough outline called “RoboCop: Corporate Wars”. In this draft, RoboCop was to be shot and pulverized to metallic dust by a cannon in the very beginning. He would be resurrected 25 years later in an even more dystopian future, where he becomes a pawn in the struggle between an all-powerful corporation, the government and an impoverished population and even at one point having a love interest with a Neruobrain to humanize Robocop even more. The studio liked this idea, but the writers did not want to continue working on script due to personal interests associated with the writers strike. Verhoeven also did not support the project, having gone to shoot “Total Recall” for big money, while agreeing to all conditions of the producers and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave the director only three hours for making decision from the beginning of reading the script. Ultimately Verhoeven felt if the studio kept patient his idea for the sequel was far more superior.In the end, the film was shot on a new script by Frank Miller & Walon Green, but the plot also has lines from the original script and early drafts for the first movie that were never filmed. (I like the background to this, the movie business of the 80’s just sounds kind of nuts with studios going under and strikes and money (and cocaine) free flowing.)

The point-of-view shots from RoboCop show an interface based on MS-DOS . The villain Cain has the Apple based OS.interface with a skull instead of the Apple logo. (ha!)

In the scene where RoboCop was being reprogrammed by Dr. Faxx, the following hex numbers scroll quickly up the screen: “50 45 54 45 20 4B 55 52 41 4E 20 49 53 20 41 20 47 52 45 41 54 20 47 55 59”. Converted to ASCII text, it reads: “PETE KURAN IS A GREAT GUY”. Peter Kuran was the special effects photographer. (That’s just weird. Fun fact!)

A directive which is only seen briefly in the scene where they are having trouble uploading the new directives into RoboCop is ‘Directive 262: Avoid Orion Meetings’. Orion Pictures was the production and distribution company of RoboCop 2 (1990). (Fun. Fact)

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