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Robocop 2

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . R . PAL


Whilst the original Robocop was hailed as a landmark sci-fi action flick, critics and many fans were not so kind to its 1990 sequel. In a way, this is surprising; the black humour, gore, ultra-violence, biting socio-political satire and (most importantly) city-destroying robotic slugfests that characterised the original are still present. Indeed, they're amped up to the proverbial 11 in Robocop 2.

According to its detractors, the problem is that the tragic Frankenstein-inspired pathos of the first film, wherein cop Alex Murphy is shot to death by thugs but resurrected as a terrifying cyborg with severe emotional traumas, is all but jettisoned for an emphasis on stop-motion action scenes, a bigger body count (the second biggest in a '90s action film, fact fans!), and a string of cynical anti-capitalist jokes recycled from its predecessor.

There's no doubt that the film doesn't pack the emotional punch of Robocop, but its saving grace is that it doesn't try to, either. Murphy ended the first film with his humanity reclaimed, so there was nowhere for that story to go. Irvin Kershner (director of another uber-sequel that you may have heard of, The Empire Strikes Back) made a brutal film with almost all of the essential ingredients of a typical '80s action film: gratuitous gore, over-the-top violence, and a barrelling narrative with almost as many holes as one of the trigger-happy hero's unfortunate victims. Excess is the keyword here. The only thing missing is the doe-eyed love interest, but even Kershner wasn't cheeky enough to try that...

The story? Nuke, a new and hugely addictive designer drug, is causing a massive crime wave in Robo's stomping ground, Old Detroit City. The gang supplying the drug is led by Kane (Tom Noonan), a psychotic (of course) character with Messianic delusions. Meanwhile, the Police Force is on strike due to their pays being slashed and pensions axed by OCP, the massive corporation that is more powerful than the elected government.

OCP have an idea for a new cyborg law enforcement officer, far more lethal, controllable and efficient than the first Robocop. As soon as an appropriate brain is harvested, the appropriately christened Robocop 2 is on the streets - and predictably enough, things quickly go awry…


This is a spectacularly good transfer. The 16x9 enhanced image, presented in the proper 1.85 aspect ratio, is damn near flawless to this reviewer's eyes. The film's muted colour scheme and the abundant stop-motion scenes (which stand the test of time well, and are much improved over the still-impressive work in the original) are beautifully sharp and detailed. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the horribly obvious matte paintings that appear irregularly (especially during the climactic rooftop battle), but hey, it was the '90s...


The absence of a 5.1 soundtrack is unfortunate - lovers of big-budget action spectaculars might say "unforgiveable" - but the stereo Dolby surround track is a great example of its type. It comes into its own during the many blaring action scenes, especially the artillery-heavy climax.

Special mention must go to the music score, which is a poor rehash of Basil Poledouris' original, and features a shameful closing credits composition with a high-pitched female choir screeching "ROBOCOP!" at irregular intervals.


Aside from a theatrical trailer, there's nothing to see here.


Robocop 2 is a much-maligned sequel to the groundbreaking original that could never hope to equal its distinguished predecessor, but is still a worthy film in its own cynical, blood-soaked, over-the-top, hardware-heavy way. It's often cold, cruel, brutal, and very, very entertaining.

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      And I quote...
    "...a brutal sci-fi film with almost all of the essential ingredients of a typical '80s action film: gratuitous gore, over-the-top violence, and a barrelling narrative with almost as many holes as one of the trigger-happy hero's unfortunate victims. Excess is the keyword here!"
    - Terry Oberg
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          Palsonic DVD3000
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          Standard RCA
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          Standard Component RCA
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