Movies We Hate: ROBOCOP 2

Many film outlets, including this one, tend to honor the underrated gems that go unnoticed by the general public and laud said movies as terrificly spectacular. Seldom do you see sites take a gander at the pictures that are horrid beyond belief or give kids in third world countries every ailment imaginable. This is where I’m coming in, to spew hate all over those films that try to defame goodwill movies like The Hurt Locker or Vertigo have paved.

So today, we’ll take a look a film I hate more than any other movie on the planet. It might not be the worst picture that’s ever been made, but this is a film that makes me forget the director has done much better work in the past. In fact, it’s a movie I’ve banned from existence and hope the studio does the right thing in never releasing it to Blu-ray (and four years into the format, so far so good.) What film could possibly earn so much hate from me?

No, not RoboCop 3. RoboCop 2.

Let me familiarize you with my affinity for the first RoboCop. My father, the great John Barrett, had just returned from killing a pack of wild, mentally unstable rabbits and basketball practice. Upon returning from this most glorious ordeal, he decided that at the ripe age of two his first child was ready for his first film. Being the great father and overall human being he is, he plopped me in front of a screen and showed me RoboCop. Normal two year-olds would be scared of seeing thugs getting their guts blasted everywhere, but not me. I loved it, I ate it up, I did whatever else you can think of that exemplifies excitement and joy.

Little did my dad know he had birthed a die-hard cinephile in me, nor did he know that he’d given me my first childhood hero. Here was a hero who had a big gun that took villains apart and ripped out their glands. Giant grins erupted from me whenever Robo punched through walls and tossed villains out of windows, or even when the villain he gives the main villain the ultimate “go f*** yourself” at the end of the picture. Hell, I even cried when ED-209 beat him to nothing and then the police force shot him up to pieces. The fact remained; I had my character who made every action figure that wasn’t Bruce Lee fall down in its presence. I worshipped this film, and would even act just like Robo in public, including his now famous strut.

Which brings me back to why RoboCop 2 is such a piece of crap. Now, freely, I will admit there was a time I tolerated this film when I was in my youth, but that had to do with my love for the character and not the film itself. Many moons later, the little, rambunctious child would develop a taste for cinema and grow into a big, rambunctious wild-man who would develop a deep hatred for the second entry in the RoboCop franchise.

First things first though, and the main culprit of this lesson in terrorism is Frank Miller. He can swear up and down that he’s not happy with the final product, but given his other cinematic torture The Spirit it’s tough to find sympathy for the guy. Not helping matters is that he appears in this monkey piss and even used a RoboCop gun during ‘That Yellow Bastard’ in Sin City. The guy and cinema just do not mix unless he’s being corralled by another force (in the case of Sin City, Robert Rodriguez.) Personally, outside of All-Star Batman and Robin, the man’s lost what used to make him so wonderful. He was not the right guy for this franchise, and if it didn’t show with the two sequels he scripted it definitely showed in that cow manure he passed of as ‘his version’ in the recent comic book miniseries (side note – Murphy and Lewis kissing. Need I say more?)

The scrolls of problems with RoboCop 2 continue with turning the character into a giant wussified bitch. Part one sees Murphy burst down the door to a warehouse and target every single villain in and out of the room before they even have a chance to make a move on him before he proceeds to mow them down with that hand-canon. Later on, we also witness him get absolutely pummeled by ED-209 and an entire police squadron, all of this after he’s malfunctioned. What does Robo do? Take every bullet blast, get right back up and ask “thank you sir, may I have another sir?”

This blue pussified lugnuts in the sequel is about as tough as Adam Lambert, to the point the blue piece of trash will be referred to as Murphy B, while the gray, tough mother from the first film will be called Murphy A. The filmmakers are content enough with Murphy B walking into a giant warehouse, not targeting ANY villain, and getting his ass handed to him in all of six seconds. Murphy A would have tagged the first idiot hiding with the AK-47 with a nice dose of rip out your spleen, then targeted everyone including the little brat Hob and blasted his punk ass to hell. In fact, Murphy A probably would have made the film about five minutes as the movie wouldn’t have made it past the opening.

Just as offensive is how The Old Man gets handled in this installment. RoboCop depicted him as a man actually trying to some good with Delta City and he’d even grown to accept Murphy as a human being by the end of it, as evidenced by the ‘Nice shootin’ son. What’s your name?’ line. Generally, he was one of my favorite characters in the first movie and never came off as the snide, corporate jackass he is in part dos. If anything, Bob Morton was more of a villain than The Old Man. RoboCop 2: The Bastard Child however forgets The Old Man was a good person and turns him into the evil, maniacal head honcho. What caused this change from sweet old man to giant penis wrinkle is never mentioned, but we’re supposed to by it for everything but the sake of continuity and good storytelling.

The film also expects the audience to buy that it takes an Erector set to build RoboCop 2. It never helps when you’re villain is about as threatening as a lady bug, and even more sacrilegious when you factor in the original concept for this film (basically, Clarence Boddicker was going to come back as RoboCop 2 and seek vengeance on Murphy’s family.) It’s as if the designers of RoboCop 2 had a cool model they could have used, and then worked backwards to the very first concept designs. In the first picture it didn’t matter that ED-209 was a hulking mammoth, but Robo 2 is supposed to further the model, not set it back fifty years.

But all of this doesn’t even compare to the thing I hate most in this picture. While the above atrocities certainly help solidify why this is such a terrible, terrible piece of film, none are as retarded or as mind-numbingly stupid as that idiotic drug-dealing kid Hob. Played by Gabriel Damon, who unfortunately found work after this film, he’s an annoying little priss and not because his character calls for him to be that. Certainly, it’s ok to have kids in a crime ring but it has to be done well (i.e. – “The Wire: The Greatest Television Show Ever”.) Hob wouldn’t last five seconds on a Baltimore street corner, and it’s a pretty tough sell the idiot would last as long as he did in Detroit. Instead of feeling bad for him when he’s lying in a puddle of his blood, my greatest regret was that I wasn’t the one to pop the poor bastard.

From a filmmaking standpoint RoboCop 2 fails on all accounts, surprising considering Irvin Kirshner directed the best Star Wars film there is. Again, it’s more Miller’s lack of a good script than it is his directing however. Ideas with great potential are halted before they can begin, and yes this is referring to the subplot with Murphy reconnecting with his family. This gets less than five minutes on screen and is easily the most interesting aspect of this story. Is Murphy conflicted when he tells his wife “your husband is dead”? We don’t know, and the film doesn’t care enough to let us know as it’s too busy shoe-horning in the next failure of a comedy piece. Reprogramming Robo might work in theory, but the film executes it piss-poorly by giving us more crime ridden children for Murphy to go after. Is this really the best resolution Miller or anyone who rewrote this could come up with?

RoboCop 2 has its fans, and that may be more of a feat than the film actually stinking this poorly. Personally, I’ve tried countless times to give this film a shot over and over but the same results still come up. In fact, I think I hate it more every time I watch it. Everything that was absolutely amazing about the first film is tossed away here, in favor of cartoonish violence, asinine plot threads, or comedy pieces that belong in a different film. Frank Miller’s followers defend him in saying his true vision was muddled in both of the sequels. While he can be excused him for part 3, too many of his prints are left on this movie to say he doesn’t deserve any blame (anyone who disagrees again needs to check The Spirit and his recent RoboCop comic, and the proof is in the puddin’.) Whatever the reason, RoboCop 2 remains my most hated film and is where all the problems for the series started. Too bad, had they stuck to the original concept they might have had something better than the nearly perfect first film.