RoboCop Trilogy
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RoboCop Trilogy

Every time there is a major change in the technology that drives home entertainment there is a renewed opportunity to revisit old favorites. If you manage to get a few decades behind yourself you undoubtedly will face the decision of whether you should repurchase a movie that you all ready own on a previous format. The decision was easy for most when it involved moving up from video tape to DVD. That shinny disc was far more durable, easier to store and offered much better audio and video quality that that dark brown tape. The format wars for high definition was thankfully short with Blu-ray scoring a relatively quick win so now most studios and distributors are combing through their catalogues searching for material to re-release in this highly enhanced media. There are several films that I just seem to get each time such a paradigm shift occurs in the technology. One such film is ‘Robo Cop’. I had the VHS tape, the widescreen tape and the DVD. I recently received the Blu-ray to review but now I received the ultimate edition, at least for now; the Blu-ray edition of the ‘Robo Cop trilogy’. While there is little doubt that the first movie was the best of the series the two sequels did turn out to be a lot of fun. The first film held some socio-political commentary reflective of the film maker’s back ground but even with that aspect diminished in the following two flicks they both held up as enjoyable action films that won’t let you down. They are collectively popcorn flicks but they work exceptionally well in that regard. While the first film has already been released in high definition this is the first time the entire trilogy has been available as a set. Each film has been re-mastered to look and sound better than ever. considering the massive amount of space afforded on a Blu-ray disc MGM could have treated fans to more ion the way of extras but these are the kind of films that a better to watch and enjoy than over analyze.

Robo Cop (1987)

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Writer: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner

This is the film that put the franchise in motion. The underlying themes here were greatly influenced by Verhoeven’s childhood in Nazi occupied Netherlands. The population of the city was under forced control exerted by the massive company Omi Consumer Products, OCP. They privatized the police force as part of their diabolical plot to expand their military division to civilian police forces. Verhoeven is extremely religious infusing many metaphors for Christianity such as the brutal death of officer Murphy (Peter Weller) and subsequent resurrection as Robo Cop. Originally the film was slated for an ‘X’ rating due to the excessive amount of violence, a trademark used in many of Verhoeven’s films. The version included here is the theatrical cur although there is the unrated version from The Criterion collection. Even the theatrical cut seen here there are more than enough bloodshed, explosions and general mayhem to satisfy any action film fan.

Robo Cop 2 (1990)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Writer: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner

In this installment the action is amped up along with the violence but there is the first indication of a more tongue in cheek approach to the character. This was a reaction to the surge of criticism the ultra violence of the first film received. Another factor that altered the action was the plot point of Murphy having an internal struggle over the loss of his family and dismantling of his last vestige of humanity. OCP tries to better the design of Robo Cop but the process drives each subject insane so they wind up using an already insane drug king pin. The blight of drug use in an urban environment is one of the core issues examined in this film. Many thought that this sequel just rehashed the plot of the first without making significant contribution to the overall story lines.

Robo Cop 3 (1990)

Director: Fred Dekker

Writer: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner

This capstone of the trilogy has more attempts at some dark humor but the overall tone remained somber. In this installment OCP is selling out to the Japanese but the deal hinges on clearing out a neighborhood in old Detroit to make way for a corporate planed and controlled city. This does overlap with the reason behind the drugs in the previous movie. The main thrust here is an old plot device; a small underground resistance movement begins to fight back. At first they use typical hit and run tactics until they take in a ten year old computer genius, Nikko (Remy Ryan) and the current scientist in charge of Robo Cop, Dr. Marie Lazarus (Jill Hennessy). Once they bring in Robo cop the advantage shifts in favor of the plucky group.

This Blu-ray presentation is excellent. The video is so amazingly sharp that I realized that you can read his OCP serial number written on his helmet. I also never quite realized the armor has such a great bluish metallic tinge to it. It is possible to notice every dent and ding in his armor as he gets into the many gun battles. That is also greatly enhanced with the new sound track. The bullets fly around the room making pings on every corner. The shell casings rain down seemingly all around you as explosions rock viscerally through the sub woofer. Even if you have a previous version of these films it is worth investing in this experience.

Posted 10/08/2010

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