The original movie was a smart comic strip pastiche. This one is just a comic book, full stop and seems unsure of exactly what it wants to be.
Part of the reason for this may have something to do with the fact that, in 1988, a 13-part RoboCop cartoon series launched on American TV, bringing the character to a more adolescent audience and moving it away from its decidedly adult roots.
Created by Marvel Comics, the animated franchise was an odd choice – especially since Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent original movie was hardly kid-friendly.
Consequently, RoboCop 2 – which was rated R in the States (meaning any age could see it with parental accompaniment) – contained one of the oddest villains in screen history: a 12-year-old drug lord that swears, deals, carries a machine gun and watches live vivisections performed on prone policemen.
The second instalment certainly ups the already colossal gore factor of its predecessor – RoboCop kills 12 people over the course of the movie.
But RoboCop’s attempt to clean out the still-in-turmoil Detroit City (which OCP wants to transform into an upper-class utopia called Delta City) from a drug called Nuke feels like a lazy plot device – although Peter Weller’s face-off against the new ‘RoboCop 2’ at least looks pretty spectacular.
The movie does have some redeeming features, predominantly a fast-moving first half-hour, which includes satirical news reports of a nuclear power plant (located in the Amazon rainforest) exploding and leaking its contents, as well as an advertisement for ‘Magna-volt’ – a device which will electrocute and kill car thieves.
Director Irvin Kirshner took over from Paul Verhoeven and Peter Weller criticised the script, saying it lacked the spine and the soul of the original. He ultimately distanced himself from the film as much as possible.
Although RoboCop 2 was almost as profitable as the first movie, critical opinion was certainly not as favourable. But money talks in Hollywood and, inevitably, a third instalment was quickly put on the table by the franchise’s cash-strapped production outfit, Orion Pictures.
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