The Robocop Trilogy Paul Verhoeven, Irvin Kershner and Fred Dekker

The Robocop Trilogy Paul Verhoeven, Irvin Kershner and Fred Dekker
Subtlety and understatement aren't words that associate well with director Paul Verhoeven (Starship Trooper, Total Recall), but despite the stigma that is Showgirls still clinging to him (that epileptic water fornication scene almost ruined sex), he has made a number of excellent, visceral movies with depth (if you know where to look). And with Robocop, he made one of the best sci-fi/action movies of the'80s, which, despite the often dodgy effects of the period (no CGI), story-wise, surpasses much of what has followed. Despite its horrible name (an initial source of shame for the creators doing filming), Robocop's premise was solid: in a futuristic, decaying Detroit, Officer Peter Murphy is gunned down and the company that now owns the police (Omni Consumer Products) rebuilds Murphy as Robocop (a cyborg law enforcement creation) to battle the rising crime wave. While the film could have easily fallen into ridiculousness, Verhoeven's vision interjects subtext (comparing Murphy's fall and rebirth to Christ's resurrection, an "American Christ," he claims in the commentary, since Robocop resorts to violence), insane amounts of gore and violence (they should have included the more bloodier director's cut here, however) and emphasises the writers' critique of Regan-ism, cutthroat business yuppies and a military industrial complex gone wrong. Surprisingly, Robocop strongly stands up today, both story-, performance- and effects-wise, although some of its effects and political satire date it (but Verhoeven never gets the credit he deserves for being able to satirise with an intelligently cynical edge). Although not loaded for bare, Robocop's extras complement the film, with a frenetic commentary from Verhoeven, co-writer Edward Neumeier and producer Jon Davison (who's mainly silent) shedding light on just about every facet of Robocop, as well as appreciating the film and paying respect to those that helped create it. Of the three featurettes, the only one that has a central focus is the "making of," which goes into detail on what a disaster Robocop was to make and how many people couldn't forget working on it fast enough. At least until it was a huge success. Also included in the trilogy are Robocop 2 and 3, but in terms of extras or focus they get the redheaded stepchild treatment. While Verhoeven bailed on 2, Peter Weller (Robocop) stuck it out, but the concept became too comic book-y (not in a good way) and lacks the edge and darkness of the first, as Robocop battles a drug lord, a new and improved Robocop and feuds with OCP. Still, 2 is fucking Shakespeare compared to 3, because if 2 is too comic book-y, 3 is simply a bad cartoon. Weller was smart to bail on this one, as Robocop (now played by Robert John Burke) battles OCP full-on, fights a ninja (seriously, a fucking ninja!), becomes a Che Guevara-like hero to the common people and even flies with a jetpack. Granted, 2's alright and 3 is bad, but if you're going to include them and call it trilogy, some extras should be required beside trailers. Still, the point is the first and everyone realises it, and even carrying its sequels it still stands strong. Plus: deleted scenes for Robocop, more. (MGM)