Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ROBOCOP 3 (1993) (Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)

ROBOCOP 3 (1993) 
Collector's Edition
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 105 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 
Director: Fred Dekker
Cast: Robert John Burke, Nancy Allen, CCH Pounder, Daniel von Bargen, Rip Torn, Stephen Root

In Robocop 3 91993) we lose Peter Weller (Naked Lunch) as Murphy/Robocop, the actor had moved onto greener pastures making David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch (1993), though Nancy Allen returns, as did screenwriter Frank Miller (Sin City). Directing this time is kid-friendly director Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps), who I love, I think Monster squad and Night of the Creeps are a blast. In Weller's place we have actor Robert John Burke (21 Guns), who is mighty weak sauce when stacked-up against Weller. He really makes it aggressively clear what Weller brought to the role, he has no presence whatsoever in the metallic-suit. Also hampering this production was the edict from the studio that this was to be a kiddie friendly PG-13 movie, something to cash-in on toy merchandising and an already established Saturday morning cartoon and video games, it was bad idea, and we haven't even gotten to the awful storyline yet - this thing was doomed!

The story, such as it is, OCP (Omni Consumer Products) are still out
to build their futuristic Delta City, but they're on the brink of bankruptcy themselves. They're on a timeline and have to move things along quickly, to that end they create a military force known as the Urban Rehabilitators, lead by fascist Commander Paul McDaggett (John Castle, the Rehabs are said to be helping police nab violent criminals in Detroit, but in reality they're forcibly removing residents and relocating, or just straight-up killing, those who stand in the way of OCP's urban redevelopment project.

Sadly, this time out we don't have the character of The Old Man (played by Dan O'Herlihy), in his place we have Rip Torn (Men In Black)as the CEO, who has aligned himself with Kanemitsu (Mako), CEO of the Kanemitsu Corporation, who are in part funding the development of the Delta City development.

Fighting against the Urban Rehabilitators are a group of resistance fighters lead by Bertha (C.C.H. Pounder, Demon Knight), whose group includes a 12-year old hacker prodigy named Nikko (Remy Ryan), if you recall the last film had a 12-year old drug dealer/murderer named Hobs, so this time out we have a 12-year old fighting for good, but she's annoying, a kid-hacker, ugh, it's as awful as it sounds.

So we have all these characters in play, where the heck is Robocop? He's here, not much though, but he's a pale shadow of his former metallic badass self, he's been neutered. His sidekick Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen, Carrie) who shows up just long enough to be killed by McDaggett (Castle), her death serves to reinvigorate Robocop into action, having been re programmed once again with a new series of emo-inducing directives by the baddies at OCP, which he must overcome, with the help of the resistance and the 12-year old hacker kid, oh boy.

What a mess of a movie, and them we have the samurai robot warriors
Otomo! Yes, screenwriter Frank Miller finally got to cram in some ninjas (one of his favorites) into the Robocop series, and while I think it's an awful addition, the action scenes are crap, there is a creepy visual with one of them who takes a shot to the face from Robocop, his fractured visage is nightmare fuel. Oh yeah, and Robocop has a new gun accessory and a jetpack, yup, he's flying around at the end of the movie, and it is awful, real awful! Things I liked about this one are few and far between, Robocop look decent, and they bring back ED-209 for a stint, but that's about it, the biting satire and dark humor are gone, this is an insult to the franchise.

I don't place all the blame on this tragic sequel on the shoulders of Fred Dekker, the poor guys career as a director was ruined by this flop, but he was working with a flawed script from Frank Miller and with an unfortunate edict to make it a kid-friendly sequel, and Robocop was never meant to be kid friendly, it should be a darkly funny violent slice of cinema, it was not meant for this, the damn thing was doomed from the beginning.

Audio/Video: Robocop 3 arrives on Blu-ray for a second time, having been previously issued by MGM on the Robocop Trilogy Blu-ray set, but unlike Scream Factory's Robocop 2, this is not being advertised as a new 2 scan of the film. I am assuming after comparison that this is the same HD transfer from the trilogy set, it's not a revelation on Blu-ray, this is your basic catalog title HD upgrade.
Audio include both English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround and DTS-HD MA stereo 2.0 with Optional English subtitles. The audio has some nice depth to it, a nice clean presentation with some nice use of the surrounds during the action sequences, a strong audio presentation.

Extras include two brand new commentaries,  the first a very honest commentary with director Fred Dekker moderated by Michael Felsher, and a second with the makers of “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” documentary. There's also a 38-minute making of doc with director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark. A make-no excuses look back at the making of the PG-13 flop, Dekker has always been very honest about the film, why it's flawed, he owns it, and it makes for a good watch that goes into pre-production, casting the movie, locations, set design and lots more.

There's also a 12-minute FX featurette with Peter Kuran, Phil
Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry. It's a good look back at the FX of the movie, some of which don't hold up spectacularly well now. There's discussion of the early digital effects work on the movie, the difficulty of shooting a silver-suited Robocop on blue screen,  the construction and design of the jet-pack.

Actor Felton Perry shows up for a 12-minute interview, his ass-kissing corporate ladder-climber character shows up in all three films, he goes into a surprising amount of detail about his character and his motivations. Actor Bruce Locke, who played the Otomo samurai robots, and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki appear in an 8-minute conversation about the character of the otomos and creating the fighting styles used in the movie.

James Belohovek returns again on the extras for Robocop 3 to discuss his work on the second sequel, working for Rob Bottin. This time not fabricating the armor for Robocop, but creating new props, namely the new gun attachment and the jetpack, which were based on parts of a miniature tape recorder and part of a beard shaver of all things. The last of the extras are a trailer and a still gallery.

The extras, produced by Red shirt Pictures, get to the heart of the story behind-the-scenes, while fans who might be expecting some sort of an apology from Dekker for this awful sequel won't get one the behind-the-scenes stuff about how the film came together are eye-opening, while they don't make the movie any better they do offer some keen and biting insights into how we ended up with Robocop 3.

The release comes housed in a standard blue keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, with a new illustration by Paul Shipper, which like Robocop 2 artwork looks like a painted version of the usual floating head photoshop stuff, which I hated. The reverse side features the original one-sheet poster. There's also a slipcase (o-ring) featuring the new artwork.

Special Features:
- NEW Audio Commentary with director Fred Dekker
- NEW Audio Commentary with the makers of “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” documentary – Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen
- NEW Delta City Shuffle: The Making of ROBOCOP 3 featuring director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark (38 min) HD 
- NEW Robo-Vision: The FX of ROBOCOP 3 featuring Peter Kuran, Phil Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry (12 minutes)
- NEW The Corporate Ladder – an interview with actor Felton Perry (12 min) HD 
- NEW Training Otomo – an interview with actor Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki (8 min) HD 
- NEW War Machine – an interview with RoboCop gun fabricator James Belohovek (9 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD
- Still Gallery (7 min) HD

Robocop 3 (1993) is still a neutered PG-13 stinker, it didn't get better with time, it only gets worse, which is a shame. I love Fred Dekker's previous movies Night of the Creeps (1986) and Monster Squad (1987), but he was wasn't the right guy to direct a Robocop sequel, furthermore it should never have been a PG-13 Robocop sequel in the first place, this thing was doomed to fail, and fail bigly. However, if there is a silver lining, at least the Blu-ray is loaded with some cool extras, while it doesn't improve the movie, they make for a great watch about a doomed sequel. 2/5