Robocop 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Written by Frank Miller and Walon Green
1990, 117 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on March 21st, 2017
Peter Weller as Robocop
Nancy Allen as Lewis
Tom Noonan as Cain
Dan O’Herlihy as The Old Man
Belinda Bauer as Juliett Faxx
Gabriel Damon as Hob
Galyn Görg as Angie
Stephen Lee as Duffy
Ever since the police force went on strike, crime has run rampant across Detroit, tearing the city apart from the inside out. Robocop is out to destroy a popular and widespread drug called “Nuke”, designed by a clever sociopath named Cain. The cunning villain is always one step ahead of the police force and when he comes face to face with his cybernetic nemesis, proves to have more than one trick up his sleeve. Robocop barely survives his first run-in with Cain and his future is in jeopardy as he is no longer under warranty at parent company OCP. With Robocop out of commission, the corporation is able to move forward with the next step in the program, Robocop II. Designed to be an upgrade in every way, the scientists working behind the scenes are frustrated with their inability to find a worthy successor. Someone decides the recently captured Cain would be a good candidate and the city of old Detroit has a new problem now.
In 1989, Robocop 2 was rushed into production by the failing Orion Pictures before they had a completed script or confirmed director. Legendary comic book writer Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) was brought in to develop the story and his spin was ambitious to say the least. Fearing the script was not feasible for the time or money available, seasoned screenwriter Walon Green (The Wild Bunch) was hired to shape the material. Miller remained on set throughout production offering daily rewrites and the end product feels a bit patchwork at times. Original director Tim Hunter (River’s Edge) was unable to keep up with the madcap schedule and was replaced just weeks before principal photography began with Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), who was known to work well under pressure. The sequel lost a lot of the satirical tone of the original film but maintains the level of violence and social commentary.
Peter Weller (Leviathan) returns as the heroic Robocop with a redesigned costume that allows the actor more movement while retaining the iconic look. The titular character is of a stop-motion design instead of an actor in a suit. This decision added a lot of prep time to the epic battle scenes in the final act. Legendary artist Phil Tippett (Star Wars) was brought back from the original film to create and supervise these sequences and the work is exquisite. Several teams of stop-motion technicians worked around the clock on the numerous action sequences in order to meet the looming deadline. In fact, so many teams worked on this production that they receive their own documentary in the supplemental features on this disc. David Cronenberg’s longtime cinematographer Mark Irwin (The Blob) shot the picture, giving everything a cool blue look, particularly Robocop’s armor. Irwin states in his interview on this disc that the trick was lighting the character like a car.
Irvin Kershner keeps things moving at a rapid pace, as the script covers a lot of ground getting to the robot battles of the finale. The picture is frequently cavalier in its depiction of graphic violence during gunfights and the like and is even a bit mean-spirited on occasion. All of this serves the central themes of the story but can be a bit overwhelming at times. The characters are not as well-defined this time around and certain subplots are dropped as quickly as they are introduced. Robocop’s relationship with his partner Lewis (Nancy Allen, Poltergeist III) is the biggest casualty, as she is relegated to the sidelines for the majority of the picture. That being said, it is nice to see Dan O’Herlihy (Halloween III) receive a larger role this time around as the head of OCP. Robocop 2 is a wild ride that is a fitting counterpart to the original. It’s not as fun, but stands on its own while avoiding the long shadow of its predecessor.
Video and Audio:
Robocop 2 receives an all-new 2K scan of the original film elements presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the results are stunning. Colors are richer and black levels are deeper than the previous MGM Blu-ray release. This is a gorgeous transfer and I cannot say enough nice things about it.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix packs a lot of rumble and action fans will not be disappointed. Gunfire and explosions are very satisfying here and sound effects receive distinct speaker separation. Music cues are equally impressive and dialogue is always clear and free from distortion.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
There are two audio commentaries--the first with author/ CG Supervisor Paul M. Sammon is a bit technical at times but filled with good stories. The second commentary track features Robocop documentary filmmakers Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen, who provide a deep fanboy conversation about the film. This is the more lively of the two tracks and is a lot of fun.
A retrospective documentary titled Corporate Wars: The Making of Robocop 2 (32 minutes) includes new interviews with Paul Sammon and executive producer Patrick Crowley, who discuss the difficult origins of the film while actors Nancy Allen, Tom Noonan, Galyn Görg, associate producer Phil Tippett and cinematographer Mark Irwin share their thoughts on the filming process. Vintage interviews with director Irvin Kershner and producer Jon Davidson provide additional information on this ambitious shoot. The piece is well structured and contains a lot of information for a short running time.
Machine Parts (31 minutes) focuses on the f/x of Robocop 2 and interviews a dozen artists, including Phil Tippett, Peter Kuran, Paul Gentry, Randal Dutra and Justin Kohn. Topics include the difficulty of the process of stop-motion animation and getting multiple sequences to match each other’s work on a tight schedule. Check it out, but pay attention.
James Belohovek sits down for an interview in Robo Fabricator (9 minutes). He discusses his efforts designing pieces of the Robocop suit and making them functional. The featurette includes vintage behind-the-scenes video from 1989.
OCP Declassiifed (46 minutes) is a collection of unedited interviews shot by Paul Sammon from 1989 - 1990. Those featured include producer Jon Davison, director Irvin Kershner, actors Peter Weller and Dan O’Herlihy. In addition to the interviews we also are given a look at the shooting of a pair of deleted scenes, an anti-drug PSA and a detailed look at a key prop from the film.
Comic book writer Steven Graff discusses his efforts creating the graphic novel tie-in in Adapting Frank Miller’s Robocop 2 (6 minutes).
The marketing for the film is covered with the inclusion of the theatrical trailer, a pair of teaser trailers and a collection of TV ads.
A still gallery of deleted scenes (3 minutes) plays as a silent slideshow with brief plot descriptions.
There are two traditional stills galleries, one focusing on behind-the-scenes (10 images) and the other comprised of lobby cards, production stills and international poster art (110 images).