RoboCop 3 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

RoboCop 3 Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2007
With the imminent release of the new Robocop film I thought a rewatch of the notorious trilogy bookend was in order. Directed by Fred 'The Monster Squad' Dekker and written by graphic novel icon Frank Miller how could it go wrong? Well in all fairness I don't think they did go that far wrong abeit a few obvious changes.

First of all as we all know the overall violence had been watered down hugely. Of course there are some that will argue that blood n bullets don't equal a good film, and they'd be right, but in the case of this franchise I personally think you need it. Like various other classic adult franchises ('Alien', 'Predator', 'The Crow' etc...) they simply work better without restrictions on who will be watching them, free reign...because they are for adults.

So straight off the bat all the dark satirical graphic novel type violence and blood has almost been taken out. I say almost because the film does have some good moments. You can tell its an old 90's film because it does still manage to squeeze in some violence and edgy bleakness. A small scene where an OCP suit leaps out of their tall skyscraper due to their stock crash. Next scene we see a 'blink and you'll miss it' shot of him hitting the ground, well you don't actually see that. Plus during some actions scenes where bad/good guys are gunned down you do get some good old fashioned bloody squib hits just like the first two films. Most don't have any squibs but they are in there so the film isn't all PG-13, pretty sure you get that these days.

The actual plot isn't too bad in all honesty, its not too unfamiliar but it works for this franchise. OCP control the cops and now have this special unit specialising in clearing out this specific urban region in Detroit to make way for Delta City, yep the're STILL trying to make Delta City. Naturally OCP are trying to make out this is a positive thing for Detroit and they're actually helping people relocate, but of course in reality they are acting like Nazi's and stormtrooping everybody off in buses without a care for families, property, well being etc... The concept works but its a forced one, most of these OCP guys are dressed like Nazi SS officers with long trench coats in militaristic fashion. They round everyone up just like the Jews were in WWII, many end up getting shot but all that is covered up by news propaganda. Their leader played by Brit John Castle is a decent Euro villain who snarls perfectly.

So you throw Robo into the mix and at first, like the cops, he's following OCP rules but eventually he sees how wrong it is, as do the cops, and they all change sides. Its all very predictable, there are a few predictable sequences where the drama is suppose to be heightened to rouse your emotions, like when the cops turn up to help the civvies or when Robo goes after the bad guy who kills Lewis, but the film never really manages to charge you up as it should. It tries hard to do so but just feels flat. There are some nice visual moments (Robo's intro sequence) but nothing as iconic as the first film, hell even 'Robocop 2' couldn't quite give us anything that visually iconic.

I think the worst part of the film was the inclusion of the Japanese company working with OCP. This really didn't need to be in there and I don't think you would of missed it if it wasn't. The most heinous crime for the film had to be the Japanese samurai assassin cyborg which was like something out of a trashy low budget ripoff flick. The daft part being this cyborg looked infinitely more advanced and sophisticated than Robo, more like a Terminator, and could have easily kicked his ass all over. Well he could of if he didn't just do martial arts flying kicks on him. He does manage to slice Robo's forearm off but somehow Robo is able to just stick that gun enhancement back on, despite his arm being half sliced off by a katana.

The killing of Officer Lewis definitely meant the end of the road for this franchise though. I was still quite impressed they got quite a few cast members back for classic characters, OCP suit Johnson, Casey Wong, Bixby Snyder and Sgt. Reed are all back, as is a nice well done cameo from ED 209 (unaltered too). I was also impressed with the makeup on Robo's face when his visor is off. They managed to get Burke looking exactly like Weller! no dilution anywhere, the effects are spot on and look great as does the rest of the suit. I also think Burke did a good job as Robo, he accentuates his walking and mouth movements a bit too much if you ask me but apart from that he was good. All sound effects on Robo's movement, his gun, ED 209 and visual graphics for Robo's vision are all perfectly recreated, good continuity.

Yeah so jet pack Robo felt a bit too much like a merchandising ploy but...damn I'll admit it I quite liked the idea. Its not too incredible an idea and it did look quite cool. I think the limitations on budget and effects hampered what could of been something pretty neat. All in all this film isn't as bad as I recall to be honest, it carries on nicely from the previous films, story is OK, effects all look as good as previous films...had Weller been involved who knows. Bottom line for me is the lack of graphic violence, grimy seediness and dark satire, a must in a Robocop film.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2010
Considering that the original Robocop is an action classic, you'd think that the filmmakers would try to deliver something even more exhilarating. The second feature was a decent affair, but it lacked what the first one had. With this third entry, the filmmakers opted for a more teenage friendly action film that was meant for a much younger audience than the original. The film's biggest flaw is the absence of Peter Weller, who passed on this film. Another problem is that the film has a laughable script with a few decent, underdeveloped ideas that just ends up falling flat. Throughout the film there are some entertaining scenes, but they quickly become ridiculous. I thought that the film had a few interesting ideas, but what it lacked was a truly engaging script and good cast. This film had the potential of being a great final outing; however the material is mostly flat and laughable. The fact that the movie was rated PG-13 makes this entry fall short of what it could have been. Since this is aimed for a younger audience, this entry lacks the thrills established in the original and the plot suffers significantly due to a lack of real satire that was seen in the original and the gross out violence. The idea of having OCP taking over Detroit in this entry was good, but it's a shame that the script is sloppily written due to the fact that the filmmakers simply didn't care about making an adult oriented Robocop film. If the movie would have been taken more seriously, I think that this one would have been great. Unfortunately this is a lazy effort that is a disappointment and it just doesn't cut it in terms of great action and thrills. As a whole, Robocop 3 plays out like a cheaply made B movie that just misses the mark.
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2011
Loved the first one, the second one was okay, but this one is ehhhh.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2009
To try and understand what kind of crackpot story Frank Miller was trying to get across in this movie will never be fully understood unless you read the later comic adaption, it is by far one of the weirdest possible conclusions to the trilogy. It has its moments of action and comedy that are completely worth watching.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2007
I finally got round to seeing this, knowing it wasn't going to be that good. I was surprised that quite a few cast members of the first two were still in it. Sadly no Paul Weller as Robocop and it shows! The story, acting, SFX all of it was pretty rubbish compared to the cult status of the first one. It's been dumbed down quite a bit too and not as violent as the first two either. One to avoid, maybe the remake of the first due next year will put things back on track.
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2007
Man was this bad. It was way too silly and the action didn't make any sense half the time. The story was poorly written and they seemed to build things up just to end it without so much as a shout. Like the whole sword wielding android that was hunting him down. That problem was taken care of in about 3 seconds.
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2006
Following in the footsteps of the sanitized sequel, rather than the dark original, this is more comic book campness. Again, reasonably entertaining with some very funny moments (particularly the pursuit in the pimpmobile and some great lines "I hope you're insured"!) but again, some sickeningly schmaltzy ones.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2006
Robert John Burke is a worst performance in this prequel metal hero film without Peter Weller.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2012
Horrendously awful doesn't even begin to describe this film. The acting is pathetic at best, and the special effects aren't even up to B-movie standards. Not to mention that the plot is insultingly idiotic. In short, RoboCop 3 is an atrocity that defiles not only the name of RobCop, but cinema itself.
Sean N.
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2010
Robocop 2, we could deal with. But, this is another story. One of the worst science fiction movies I've ever seen. First of all, Peter Weller's not Robocop (that sucks because Weller is the only guy for the role). This new guy just sounds weird. Second, why PG-13? The last two worked because they were rated R and were gory. This one obviously was pannered to younger kids but they took everything cool out. The story's fine (good idea for what they were doing to see Robocop rebel against OCP (finally!!) But this film doesn't do it. It's sad because the first two were good, this one.. UGH!!!
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2014
Man, with three of these sci-fi films, that near feature is getting a whole lot nearer, and it's still nearly 50 years away from 1993. It might not take Detroit that long to reach total dystopia (I joke, but Detroit already hit the bankruptcy they were predicting to happen in 2035 in 2013), because at the rate destruction is going on over there, the filmmakers could have just stood around Detroit and waited for a building to collapse before they started rolling, then they wouldn't have blown so much money that they didn't get back to go watch them demolish some buildings in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Winter Olympics. RoboCop needs to be less concerned with the financial crises of Detroit in this film, and more concerned about the financial crisis faced by this bomb of a film... and about how there's someone else in his RoboBody, or whatever you call it! Yeah, Peter Weller finally bailed out (Poor Robert John Burke still had his face remolded like Weller's, though), and Nancy Allen is still stuck, but for the only so long, because she got out of this train wreck as quickly as she could. I don't know, maybe the Rotten Tomatoes critics thought it would be cute to see if they could get the approval rating of "RoboCop 3" down to 3%. I mean, come one, this is our third outing with a cyborg police officer, so did the filmmakers really expect our patience with something like this to hold up for a third installment? ...Well, I didn't, but here I am, that one other jerk who actually likes the film (Leave some room in that sinking credibility ship for me, David Nusair), which isn't to say that I can't see where a lot of people are coming from.

One can debate if this film is quite as overlong as the longer and convoluted "RoboCop 2", but because it doesn't try so hard to bloat its narrative, this fluffy affair kind of outstays its welcome at about 105 minutes, fattened up around the edges by a little too much filler, and even some excess in material. The material at least feels excessive once the storytelling finds itself spending too much time with each segment, to where a sense of progression is retarded by major plot points' taking too long to be touched upon, if not by focal unevenness. If nothing else is consistent about the storytelling, it's formula, because a lot of the laziness of this film is reflected in the taking of a once-unique premise and interpreting it in a hopelessly derivative, very '90s action plot, complete, of course, with cheese. The fluff of the film has been viciously condemned, but, honestly, I don't really find the cheesiness of the film quite as cloying as people say, and yet, it's impossible to deny that this film is just plain corny, with more than a few supporting performances which range from flat and borderline embarrassing, and make lame lowlights in dialogue and humor all the more aggravating. The story itself gets a little cheesy, not exactly being asinine, like many say, but nonetheless being either too fluffy or too overblown, to where most any form of dramatic value which was found in the predecessors is lost. The final product compensates with thorough entertainment value, at least in my apparently questionable opinion, but this isn't anything memorable, nor is it especially intriguing while it occupies your time, and bombards you with excess, clichés and cheese. I can't promise the readers that they will stand among the odd men out, but as one of the odd men out, I feel that there is plenty of entertainment value to embrace, with the help of technical proficiency.

Now, we all know just how lazy these "threequels" in a late-'80s/early'90s action film can get, so I even expecting the effects to be questionable, unprepared for them to look about as clean as they ever had in this series, being, not quite as technically ambitious as, say, "RoboCop 2", but flashy and convincing enough to help sell this futuristic world, and, of course, compliment action. You always had action to fall back on the predecessors, and although you don't have the flashy gore to fall back on here, there are still plenty of dynamically staged, technically exceptional and entertaining brawls and shootouts which, at the very least, marks heights in entertainment value, even if they don't do as much as they could have for a sense of consequence. Everyone is talking about how they had the nerve to dial down the violence and disturbances for a PG-13 rating, and although I don't find that this film is losing too much of an edge, the action is bloodless, although it is nonetheless fun, and even more recurrent. With that said, the action is still far from consistent, and entertainment value cannot thrive on it the whole way, at least enough for you to get past how silly, overblown an formulaic this film's premise is, but, honestly, there's still plenty of color, maybe even intrigue to this story for Fred Dekker and Frank Miller to do justice with a script that is uneven and, at times, terribly cheesy and trite, but admittedly with more than a few funny moments to help memorable set pieces in keeping liveliness consistent. The film may be overdrawn, but it's never all that draggy, and if the story is as stupid as they say it is, I find a little difficulty in noticing, as structural pacing is kept up enough to establish color, or at least a potential for color to be explored by Dekker, as director. Dekker, as director, can make or break the engagement value of this film, and although his degree of inspiration is questionable, he never lets things slow down, keeping flashy enough with visuals and tight enough with his execution of the script to keep entertainment going through and through, and pretty high. With patience, one can find the film to be plenty of fun, and although it doesn't quite deliver on entertainment value quite like its predecessors, there is enough liveliness to make this a perfectly decent, if overblown fluff piece.

Bottom line, the film a little too long and even a little uneven, getting about as overblown with a silly, thin premise story as it does with conventions and cheesy fluff, but where this film could have fallen flat as the tremendous misfire many still claim it to be, fine effective, fun action, colorful scripting highlights and lively direction manage to save "RoboCop 3" as an inconsequential, but fun capper to the cult classic saga.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2007
You know, I think I have to have already seen this movie two, maybe three times, yet every time I try to think back to it, all I draw is a big blank. Say what you will about RoboCop 2, but at least it's memorable; RoboCop 3 is so boring and stock, every time I see it the memory just leaks back out of my head twenty minutes later. And that's really, really impressive considering how insultingly simplistic and utterly ridiculous this movie is. Working yet again from a script by Frank Miller (didn't they learn their lesson the first time around?), RoboCop 3 drops all pretense of subtle satire and dives headlong into broad moralizing, literally transforming OCP into a bunch of cruel, inept Bond villains (complete with a burnished metal, fortress-like boardroom) and their soldiers into S.S. stormtroopers. At the same time, the resistance characters are treated as totally innocent victims, despite the fact that they use explosives, machine guns, and terrorist tactics to combat OCP's takeover. And then, of course, there's the fact that the movie completely ignores the world outside Detroit, as if the federal government wouldn't have a few things to say about murdered cops and human rights violations committed by private industry on U.S. soil (I know it's supposed to be a cynical future, but I just can't see the bleeding-heart Democrats being okay with pseudo-Nazis hauling men, women, and children off to "rehabilitation camps" because they want to put a shopping mall where an apartment building was). Are the filmmakers trying to say that we're just a few campaign contributions away from a fascist state? By taking the social message of the franchise several steps too far, RoboCop 3 pretty much throws away all of the credibility garnered by the first two films (well, mostly the first one) to become a big, stupid, morally clean-cut piece of junk. And hey, it's PG-13 now! Because kids love RoboCop, and therefore RoboCop should be made for kids. Sounds good to me!

Even though the film's main plot is abysmally simple, there are a lot of things going on in this sequel; you could tell that they were trying for a movie that would complete the RoboCop trilogy, as it were, by wrapping every plot thread and ambiguity in the franchise up in a nice, big bow. The movie starts with yet another expository newscast, telling us that Delta City is finally moving forward and that the citizens of Detroit are being assisted out of their homes by Urban Rehabilitators ("Rehabs" for short), OCP troops who are only there to make the transition smoother. Cut to wrecking balls smashing into childrens' bedrooms and shock troops herding poor people onto buses, and within moments the film starts to reek of political commentary pushed too far. Turns out OCP is falling into ruin and has been bought out by a Japanese corporation, and if they don't clear out Detroit in four days, they lose the right to build Delta City, which will inevitably cause the company to implode- understandably, they're in a hurry to get started. Enter RoboCop, who's suddenly stricken by a crisis of conscience from being on the wrong side of an obvious Holocaust metaphor, and after some soul searching (and the unceremonious murder of his partner Lewis, which I'll get to later), Murphy joins the plucky rebel forces, which consist of a bunch of incompetent civilians and, of course, a precocious little girl who can seemingly reprogram anything with her little kids' laptop. 'Course, they don't realize that RoboCop is being hunted by a sophisticated samurai robot sent by the Kanemitsu Corporation, nor that one of their own is a mole for the Rehabs; long story short, the rebels get pwned, the cops switch sides, RoboCop gets a jetpack, and OCP gets blowed up real good. Oh, and there's a street gang running around called the "Splatterpunks" who sound exactly like the Mutants from Miller's comic book masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns. Way to be original, Frank.

This is the first RoboCop movie to feature someone other than Peter Weller in the big metal suit, and you'd be hard pressed to find a worse candidate for the job that Robert John Burke. While his face may, uh, kinda resemble Weller's if you squint really, really hard, the timber and pitch of his voice is just laughably incongruous with the character, sounding more like an electronic surfer dude than a robot cop. And if you're thinking of arguing that his acting talents could have won him the role, well, you obviously haven't seen him play the part. His movements are far less precise than Weller's, and he lacks the subtlety to emote through his robotic performance- but the deal-breaker for me has to be his hands, which he constantly keeps waist-high, palms-down, and parallel to the ground whenever he's walking... giving the impression that he's creeping or, worse, prancing throughout the streets of Detroit. Thankfully, the new Robo has some experienced back-up, in the form of Nancy Allen's Officer Lewis! Allen is like a breath of fresh air, a reminder that yes, this is still a RoboCop movie, and that at least some things never change... until they blow her away to give RoboCop a cheap motivation to go after the bad guys (again, more on that later). But Robert DoQui is here, too, as the gruff Sergeant Reed, who actually does something active this time around... well, at least, he tries to, until RoboCop has to fly in and saves his ass (oh, did I mention that Robo has a jet-pack in this movie? It's one of the few cool things this film has to offer, and it lasts about one cumulative minute of screen time). Then... (sigh)... there's everybody else. For some reason, Dan O'Herlihy's Old Man is gone (eliminated in a single line of throwaway dialogue), only to be replaced by the scenery-chewing campiness of Rip Torn as Merritt W. Morton, CEO of OCP (any relation to Bob Morton, the guy who had RoboCop built? Who knows? I'm sure even the writers don't). He's in cahoots with McDaggett, the leader of the Gestapo- uh, I mean the Rehabs- who is played with mustache-twirling obtuseness by John Castle. Then there's Otomo, the leaner, more efficient Japanese robot (sort of like a ninja Terminator) played by Bruce Locke. I like the concept of the character (the Japanese outdoing us in the field of electronics? Unheard of!), and the jab at the zeitgeist that he and the Kanemitsu Corporation represent, but he's just pretty much superfluous to the plot... not to mention stupid, wielding nothing but a samurai sword in a world full of semi-automatics. Oh, and for some reason, it smokes. Uh... why? Lastly, I have to bring up the rebel forces, which are absolutely pathetic, all things told. Sure, I get that they're supposed to be average people fighting for their homes and families, but come on- Stephen Root is a rebel fighter? The guy who played Milton in Office Space is now a gun-toting guerrilla? What were the casting people smoking when the came up with this? And why do these people bother setting up a post-Apocalyptic community on the edge of town when they could just, oh, I don't know, MOVE AWAY? Just buy a friggin' bus ticket and go to Columbus, Ohio, or some other place where greedy multinational corporations AREN'T trying to put you into concentration camps!

As bad a move as it was getting Irvin Kershner to direct the second film, this movie manages to top it by tapping Fred Dekker, known for such films as Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad, to close out the trilogy. This guy doesn't have Verhoven's quirky sensibilities or Kershner's slick visual sense; no, Dekker is clearly a student of the low-budget school of filmmaking, which results in a RoboCop film that is now entirely in B-movie territory. The film lacks the distinctive visual style of the first two, trading in the Orwellian, dystopic near-future for either pure sci-fi (the OCP sets and Robo's command center look like something out of Star Trek) or the unvarnished present-day- and there's a disconnect between the two, as if when the scene changes, you're suddenly watching a different movie. Probably the most obnoxious thing the director does, though, is a quick dolly from a medium shot into an extreme, low-angle close-up to punctuate a dramatic beat- it's unbearably cheesy, and the guy must do it something like seven or eight times! As bad as the direction is, though, it's made all the worse from being built upon the screenplay by Frank Miller and, wouldn't you know it, Fred Dekker. Since they were going for a PG-13 rating to begin with, the violence and the dark comedy have been seriously toned down, robbing the story of much of its bite. That being said, there are actually moments of good satire present here (the executive jumping out the window, for one, or an eerily prescient moment when Reed, going over mug shots of resistance fighters, says "Do not let the fact that these people are homeless sway you. They're terrorists!"), but they're largely drowned out by a radically oversimplified conflict, and LOADS of corporate-Nazi imagery (they even have a badge on their shoulders that's clearly a jagged three-pronged swastika!). That was always Frank Miller's problem: the guy has no grasp of subtlety. He's like the Michael Moore of comic book writers- fiercely liberal, staunchly anti-capitalist, and obnoxiously outspoken about it, to the extent that he pisses off even those who agree with him. Unlike Miller's normal, hyper-violent output, however, this script plays out like an episode of a Saturday morning cartoon, in which, even when people are being killed right in front of you, there's never a feeling of danger or peril; I'm fairly certain we can thank the hackwork of Fred Dekker for that. And don't even get me started on the inconsistencies... the most glaring being: why does RoboCop even still have a Directive Four, when he erased ALL of his directives in the last film? The special effects are pretty lame for the early nineties (another film about a cyborg set the standard in that department), and the action sequences are anemic (get it? 'Cause they're bloodless! ... Nevermind). Also, for a film set in an urban war zone, the cinematography by Gary B. Kibbe is way too clean, the color palette far too vibrant. Production-wise, the only thing this movie does right is bring Basil Poledouris back into the franchise, reinstating his classic theme; unfortunately, even that is not enough to inject life into this lumbering, forgettable disappointment.

This film can probably best be summed up by a single scene: the death of Officer Anne Lewis. This is easily one of the most monumental missed opportunities in a movie I've ever witnessed. After being shot by the bad guys, Murphy carries Lewis into a church for cover, laying her melodramatically at the foot of the altar. She says "I'm scared," and he replies, "Don't be. It won't hurt for long." But instead of continuing along this thread, with Anne maybe asking Murphy what it's like to die and getting into some really awesome character development or philosophy, she just asks him to "get them for me," reducing the death of one of the principle characters of this franchise to little more than a tacked-on motivation to go after the bad guys. Robo then completes the failure by whispering "officer down" and bowing his head in a way that honestly made me laugh out loud. What really sucks, though, is that the scene was a good idea- it takes the story of Lewis to its logical conclusion (she's his last tether to humanity- she had to bite it sooner or later)- but it's marred by shoddy execution and an unwillingness to put any real thought into the material. Ultimately, rather than being a pivotal tragic moment in the character's story, the scene is just a springboard from which to launch redundant action set pieces and pointless explosions later in the film. That's RoboCop 3 in a nutshell: it's a dull, forgettable, unintentionally funny dumbing-down of the character and the story that has some good ideas behind it, but just can't seem to pull any of them off very well. And maybe now that I've written all this down, I'll actually remember how bad this film is before I accidentally end up sitting through it all over again.
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2010
Peter Weller is not here and the violence in this film has severely been toned down compared to previous movies. The story is OK and John Castle played an adequate villain. RoboCop 3 isn't the worst movie of all time, but you certainly won't want to see it more than once. It's just so average.
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2009
It pretty much took a big, steaming dump on what was good about the first two. But hey, at least I saw it for free.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2008
they shouldbve ended this series with the original.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2008
The best one, even MORE low bugeted that the last ones!!!
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2007
Rruined a really good idea. Put it back to an 18 immediatley.
August 31, 2012
This film is officially the emasculation of Robocop...

Sometime in the future, Detroit is still a mess. Despite the presence of Robocop, crime continues to run rampant in this once proud metropolis. Omni Consumer Products (OCP), run by its current CEO (Rip Torn), continues in its efforts to turn Detroit into a utopia called Delta City. Which of course is utopian in the sense that the city is run by a major corporation and the rights you have as a citizen of this fair city are determined by how much stock you own in OCP. OCP however is about to go bankrupt -- and had to be bailed out by the Japanese. Sound familiar? The Japanese firm in charge of OCP is run by an individual named Kanemitsu (Mako). The enforcer for Kanemitsu is Otomo (Bruce Locke), an android that resembles a swordsman.

In order to make their vision of Delta City a reality, OCP has hired a mercenary named McDaggett (John Castle) to lead a group called the Urban Rehabilitators (Rehabs) whose job is to drive out the undesirables (a.k.a., the poor and working class), particularly those located in Cadillac Heights, out of their homes. Those who resist, will be executed by the Rehabs. Nothing will stand in OCP's way to create Delta City...

Among those who were systematically executed by the Rehabs were the parents of a young computer whiz named Nikko (Remy Ryan). On her own, her only means of survival is to join an underground resistance group led by Bertha (C.C.H. Pounder). But OCP is about to learn that they have messed with the wrong whiz kid because Nikko knows a thing or two about hacking into OCP's technology, including gaining control of the much feared ED-209...

Meanwhile, Robocop (Robert John Burke) is going about his usual business -- busting criminals and forgetting to read them their Miranda rights -- with his longtime partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen). While patrolling the streets of Cadillac Heights, Robocop and Lewis observe the Rehabs forcibly removing inhabitants from their homes. Robocop also sees a young girl running across the street heading to a church for sanctuary amidst the chaos. Somehow, that young girl brings back memories of Robocop's former past life and his own son whom he lost contact with...

Robocop and Lewis head to that very church only to learn that the Rehabs want the place torn down. The Rehabs allege that the church is the headquarters of an underground resistance. But Lewis believes that the church is simply a shelter for civilians seeking refuge. The two sides were unable to negotiate so of course this leads to a shootout. Unfortunately, Robocop proves not to be particularly effective because his programming includes a "Fourth Directive", meaning that if Robocop attempts to oppose any member of OCP (including the Rehabs), his programming automatically shuts down. With Robocop being ineffective, Anne Lewis is killed in the line of duty...

Robocop himself is severely damaged during the gunfight but is saved by the resistance. Dr. Lazarus (Jill Hennessy), one of the scientists who helped to create Robocop, has been called upon to save Robocop from complete destruction. She successfully restores Robocop to full operation. In addition to deleting the Fourth Directive, Dr. Lazarus has also modified Robocop by giving him some new tools, including a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, and a jetpack. I can't imagine any police officer, cyborg or human, needing to use a jetpack to fight crime in Detroit, but then again, it IS Detroit.

Robocop has become a symbol for the resistance. The resistance has vowed to take a stand against their oppressors. With his partner Lewis dead, this mission has become personal for Robocop. He must save the city from the Rehabs and OCP -- and seek revenge for his partner's death. Can Robocop save the day? More importantly, will Robocop be able to match wits with this robotic martial artist, Otomo?

Oh dear, what a disaster. Clearly, the filmmakers wanted to take the Robocop franchise in a whole different direction by making it more accessible to adolescents and younger audiences; one could say that this film's target base were the types of crowds who would end up seeing Harry Potter and the Twilight movies if they were teenagers some ten years later after this movie's release. Clearly, the filmmakers failed miserably in their task. Robocop for the teen/tween crowd just didn't sound right. Then again, they did do a children's cartoon adaptation of Robocop in the late 1980s. I know because I actually watched an episode or two of the cartoon series. Luckily, this movie was a major box office flop. Otherwise, there would have been a Robocop 4 and a 5, and probably a 6, which would have further emasculated this beloved law enforcement cyborg who was once the pride of Detroit.

One such example of the movie's intent to go in a more teen-friendly direction is the humor. The humor in this movie is clearly more sophomoric and juvenile, even going for nose picking jokes. This is in contrast to the first two Robocop movies, which contained acerbic humor tacitly jabbing the media, corporate America, and the decay of urban city life. Occasionally though, the humor does work. I liked the Johnny Rehab commercial for example. But the humor in Robocop 3 is generally crass and corny without the wit. Even Robocop 2 had some decent satirical moments. But Robocop 3 goes for lower brow humor, including making fun of corporate executives committing suicide after losing their jobs.

The action scenes are passable. Of course, this being a PG-13 movie, the violence in this movie is toned down considerably. There are shoot-outs and occasional blood squibs, but there is nothing particularly offensive about this movie. Considering all the ammunition fired in this movie, it's remarkable that the body count is not too high. The film's first major action sequence has Robocop taking down a bunch of street gang members known as the Splatterpunks, who look like a cross between punk rock groupies and your mother's worst nightmare. As one can surmise, the Splatterpunks weren't much of a challenge as Robocop was able to take them out pretty easily, though one managed to set Robocop on fire by throwing one of those Molotov cocktails at him. Of course, that did not phase Robocop one bit. There's also a somewhat thrilling car chase with Robocop pursuing the Rehabs while driving a pink vehicle he commandeered from a pimp (don't ask). The car goes up in flames, but Robocop continues the pursuit until he has to make an unexpected stop. There is also the anticipated fight scene between Robocop and Otomo. However, what could have been an exciting epic clash of technological titans is a let down.

And in probably one of the silliest action sequences in film history, during the massive showdown between the underground resistance (with an unlikely ally) and the Rehabs and Splatterpunks, we see Robocop with a jetpack flying in the air, gunning down the Rehabs and Splatterpunks and blowing away their tanks with a smartbomb attached to his arm. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Robocop???

The plot of Robocop 3 is also much weaker compared to the first two movies. The original Robocop of course had a fantastic premise and story about a dead police officer who becomes Robocop, a part man, part machine with revenge on his mind. Robocop 2 had a fairly interesting and controversial story about OCP using the brain of a dead drug kingpin to create a more aggressive version of Robocop. But the storyline of Robocop 3 is uninspiring. To add insult to injury, Robocop 3 actually manages to rip off the plot of a low budget Italian action film called Escape from the Bronx. That movie was about mercenaries hired by a greedy corporation whose job was to force poor inhabitants out of the Bronx in order for said corporation to construct a new metropolis. But the inhabitants won't go down without a fight and a resistance movement led by a guy named Trash (that's right) fights back against the mercenaries and the corporation. I can't say for certain whether Frank Miller or Fred Dekker actually saw Escape from the Bronx, but the plot similarities between the two movies are pretty astonishing. Look them up yourself.

Robert John Burke tries very hard and inherited the unenviable task of replacing Peter Weller in the role of Robocop, but simply put, Peter Weller is Robocop. I thought that child actress Remy Ryan did a fairly decent job as the young whiz kid Nikko, as did Jill Hennessy, who portrays a resourceful scientist managing to show the right balance of empathy and strength. The villains in Robocop 3 aren't particularly compelling. The CEO of OCP is reduced to an obsequious clown trying to ingratiate himself with his Japanese superiors. And McDaggett just doesn't compare to Clarence Boddicker or even Cain -- the villains from the first and second Robocop movies, respectively.

At the time this movie was made, yellow peril was the rage all across America. You see, during the 1980s till about the mid 1990s, the Japanese were kicking our arses. Japanese students were outperforming American students academically. While American students were supposedly playing video games and enjoying their summer vacation, Japanese students were concentrating on their studies and jeopardizing their social lives (and sleep) in order to focus on getting the highest test scores possible. Japanese manufacturers were also turning out superior products, unlike the defective crap made in the United States. The Japanese economy was growing at an exponential rate while the American economy was sputtering. The yellow menace known as Japan was a viable threat on the American way of life. Of course nowadays, Japan has its own problems and one would replace Japan with China, but that's a whole different topic. The point I'm trying to make is that the Japanese villains portrayed in this movie are the embodiment of every offensive Asian stereotype imaginable. And obviously the Japanese villains were a manifestation of all of the Americans' fears of a possible Japanese takeover of this country. It's ridiculous and over the top.

And to belabor the point even further, McDaggett himself has a very obvious British accent. Which goes to show that anybody with a foreign accent is not to be trusted. I don't know if this was a conscious decision or not, but McDaggett looks and sounds like a villain straight out of the Apartheid era in South Africa. The problem I have with Robocop 3 is that the villains are less like interesting flesh and blood characters and more like neatly packaged stereotypes.

In many ways, Robocop 3 was doomed from the start. A watered down version aimed for younger audiences just wasn't going to work no matter how good the intentions. It's just like if the filmmakers attempted to make Freddy Krueger into a good guy. With Robocop 3, the filmmakers essentially alienated fans of the Robocop series. And it really is a shame. Robocop 3 is far from being the worst movie and it does have its strengths, but the Robocop movies are meant to be hardcore and relentless. Teens who are too young for most R-rated action movies may enjoy this film to some extent, but I can't really award the filmmakers a lot of points for their lame attempt at trying to make a teen-friendly version of Robocop. Sorry. I'd say the same thing if this were Rambo or the Terminator (oh, wait...).
May 19, 2012
I heard nothing but bad things about Robocop 3, so I wasn't really expecting anything great. For one reason or another, I never got around to seeing the film until it was playing on one of my movie channels on tv. So I figured, I might as well. I have to say, those people were right. Robocop 3 is pretty bad. It tried to return to the themes of the first one, some prinicpal actors came back, and even Basil Poledouris came back to do the score, but the film still came up short. The big common complaints seem to be that the violence and mature content was toned down to secure a PG-13 rating, and Peter Weller does not return as Robocop. I didn't think Robert John Burke was half bad as the character. He kind of resembles Weller if you ask me, and maybe that was the reason he was chosen as the replacement. Still, I missed Weller. He's the only Robocop for most fans. In addition to the toned down violence and the absence of Weller, the movie became very campy. Japanese sword-wielding ninja cyborgs? Robocop having a gun arm and flying around on a jetpack? Sounds like they were trying very hard to sell toys. The acting for this film is nothing special, the special effects are about the same as the previous films but done in a worse way, and the killing of Anne Lewis was hard to swallow. But I think the worst part about this movie is that it's boring. I honestly wanted to change the channel half-way through, but forced myself to keep watching so I could actuallly say I've seen the movie and be able to appropriately review it. There was just nothing memorable about it at all and it's easily forgettable. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone, although some younger kids might find it enjoyable. If you're interested in Robocop, just watch the first two. This one is passable.
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