RoboCop

1987, Arne Schmidt

Paul Verhoeven made a name for himself with this self-parodying sleeper hit. Tangentially inspired by Blade Runner, it hooks us with its over-the-top-stupid dialog and performances, as well as its sharp satire. Verhoeven had indicated his intention was to satirize the excessive gore depicted in film by taking it to an absurd extreme; unfortunately, censors and critics didn't get the joke, and many scenes had to be shortened or cut. It was still one of the most popular films of the late 80s, and gave birth to a franchise. Peter Weller was effective as the conflicted title character, Nancy Allen created a potent no-nonsense female cop, and Ronny Cox stole the show as the slimy corporate bad guy.

     

 

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RoboCop 2

1990, Jon Davison

Peter Weller is back in a disappointing follow-up to Paul Verhoeven's hit. Director Irvin Kershner made the mistake of focusing on absurd violence instead of its characters, and his vain attempts to create the biting satire of the original were reduced to stupid bits that are just plain bad.

 

     

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RoboCop 3

1993, Patrick Crowley

Director Fred Dekker took a crack at the franchise this time, but only managed to make things worse. Busy with Naked Lunch, Peter Weller was replaced by Robert John Burke, who laughably fails in his attempts to impersonate Weller. Despite significantly better, more elaborate effects, the film utterly bombed at the box office. Still, it was followed by four television series, two live-action and two animated.

       

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RoboCop

2014, Strike Entertainment et al

In a bid to update the franchise for contemporary tastes, MGM announced their intentions to mount a reboot project in 2005. After several false starts and changes in personnel, things finally got under way in 2011, although further creative conflicts dragged production out for three years. The results aren't spectacular, but certainly not bad, either. Gone are the intense violence, satire and humor; what remains is generic sci-fi action popcorn fare, with high production values and slick effects, but little else to distinguish it. Discussions are under way for a sequel.

     

 

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