Robocop - Dark Justice Reviews
Of course, Prime Directives is designed to work as a single, cohesive narrative, and as a result, RoboCop: Dark Justice (the first film in the series) is loaded down with tons of plot set-up and character introductions. Nevertheless, it stands on its own as a good story, and serves as a solid hook for the larger narrative: it's been 10 years since RoboCop first hit the streets, and Delta City (formerly Detroit) has been christened "the safest city on Earth". So safe, in fact, that OCP has instituted a "zero fatality" policy with the police, confiscating their lethal weaponry and leaving them helpless in the face of violent criminals; from out of this turmoil comes Bone Machine, a homicidal vigilante capitalizing on the impotence of the police force. After having his ass handed to him by the least subtle supervillain in history, RoboCop begins an investigation of the criminal crime-fighter with the help of John T. Cable, Murphy's former partner from his pre-cyborg days in Metro South, who's just transferred into Murphy's precinct, not realizing that Murphy is now RoboCop. The two discover the disturbing fact that Bone Machine is being financed by someone at OCP, and John ultimately learns that it's Sarah Cable, a junior OCP executive and John's ex-wife, who is using the Machine to undermine confidence in OCP's present management and stage a coup to take control of the company. Sarah learns of their investigation, however, and has RoboCop reprogrammed with a new fourth directive: kill John T. Cable. While all of this is going down, however, something else is brewing at OCP: another junior exec, Damien Lowe, manages to convince the board to fund the development of an artificial intelligence called S.A.I.N.T., and yet a third junior executive joins the ranks of OCP- a young man named James Murphy...
RoboCop has been through a lot by this film, and after ten years of unceasing service, he's going through a kind of existential depression because people have largely forgotten about him. He's covered in patched-up battle damage, and they aren't making a lot of the parts he needs anymore; basically, he's become an ineffectual relic, and it's left him feeling purposeless. It takes a little while to get used to Page Fletcher as the eponymous hero- his mannerisms and voice are very different from Weller's, angling more towards the stereotypically robotic with his clenched fists and stiff gait. His portrayal of the human Murphy, though, is animated and lively, and I would dare say is the most likable version of the character we've yet seen, if for no other reason than that we see a lot more of him (in flashback, of course). The contrast between the two makes his existential dilemma that much more potent. Further driving his introspection is the reappearance of his old partner, John T. Cable, as played by Maurice Dean Wint. Despite a few moments of melodramatic cheese early on, Cable is a surprisingly complex character; he serves as a dark reflection of our hero, sort of a vision of the road not taken and the life left behind, as well as a comrade and an equal who's screwed over by the same system that killed and enslaved Murphy. Wint is fantastic in the role, playing a gruff and cynical counterpoint to RoboCop's earnest directness and Murphy's upbeat attitude (he and Fletcher make a great team in the numerous flashback sequences); he also has a great undercurrent of animosity towards his ex-wife, Sarah Cable, an OCP exec played by Maria Del Mar. One of the things I like about this series is that it doesn't depict the people running OCP as inherently evil, like the Frank Miller films did, but rather as short-sighted, childish fools who can't see beyond their own P.R.; Sarah Cable, however, is the one exception to this. Despite Del Mar's cool, aloof, attractive exterior, her character is totally, remorselessly EVIL (with a capital "MHU-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!"), and while there are hints that her behavior stems from personal demons and a devastating trauma in her past, that's really no excuse for having her husband murdered and then desecrating his corpse for good measure. On top of that, she's also secretly financing the city's newest vigilante scourge: Bone Machine, a.k.a. former officer Albert Bixler, played by Richard Fitzpatrick. It's not just this character's name, his corny dialogue, or his ridiculous outfit that make Bone Machine the weakest link in the Dark Justice line-up... it's the fact that Fitzpatrick milks the character for all the camp it's worth, cackling with his tongue out every time he fires his guns and delivering such memorable lines as "you're boned, baby!" with far more gusto than they rightfully deserve. As for the rest of the cast, I'll get into them in future reviews...
While it lacks some of the finesse of the original film, the screenplay by Brad Abraham and Joseph O'Brien follows in the spirit of Verhoeven's classic, lavishing on the violence and social commentary (the new MediaNet news-breaks are hilariously incisive in their portrayal of an A.D.D.-afflicted mass media under greater corporate control than ever before) along with plenty of characterization and some pseudo-political intrigue. The trappings are sometimes cheesy (character names, in particular, veer towards the absurd- Archie Nemesis, Abby Normal and Ann R. Key stand out as some ludicrous examples), but the meat of the story is surprisingly substantial, particularly the friendship between Murphy and Cable and the one case that forced them onto opposing sides of a moral boundary. Since this is the first film in a series of four, a lot of time is devoted to establishing character, relationships, and the foundations of the plot, but thankfully these are the series' strong suits; there's not as much action in this one, but the climactic showdown between RoboCop, Cable, and Bone Machine makes up for this pretty well. Not that the action scenes are all that impressive, anyway- the non-existent budget ensures that RoboCop's suit never sustains visible damage, and nearly all of the explosions are really bad computer compositing effects. Luckily, director Julian Grant knows how to get the most out of his limited resources, so despite the palpable lack of funding, the show still looks pretty good and the action scenes are still engaging (despite his unfortunate appreciation for dropping frames and a lack of spacial reasoning that becomes a problem later on). Unfortunately, the sets are largely nondescript and cramped, but Grant compensates for this by lighting them in the film noir tradition: very deep, dark shadows, with shafts of light illuminating only what's important (thus creating the illusion that the spaces are larger than they really are). Surprisingly, Rob Bottin actually came back to do the Robosuits for this film, and while the sculpt does look good as ever, it doesn't really look like it's made of metal anymore- not to mention that there's a noticeable loss of detail work, such as on the back of Murphy's head. Finally, I should mention the decent score by Norman Orenstein, which is mostly made up of effective yet unobtrusive mood music- except for when that damn trumpeter starts blaring the character's action theme...
Despite the problems created by its bargain-basement budget, Dark Justice is an excellent reintroduction to the character of RoboCop, bringing new elements into the franchise while retaining a lot of what made the character work in the first place. Whether you'll like the series or not, however, depends entirely on how much you're willing to overlook to get to the good stuff; the fact is that this is a product of Space, the Canadian version of the Sci-Fi Channel, so if you're looking for cinema-quality visuals or riveting action sequences, you're probably going to be disappointed. Overall, I'd say this is not a movie I'd recommend to the casual sci-fi/action viewer. But if you're a fan of RoboCop- and I mean, like, a die-hard fan- there's a lot here to enjoy; the themes and character focus that the two sequels and the T.V. show lacked are here once again, and there's a glossy contemporary sheen to the story and the presentation that makes the character and the franchise feel fresh and new again, if not as good as the original itself. Dark Justice, while an engaging story with a satisfying (if tragic) conclusion, is just the tip of the iceberg, however. By film's end, Justice has lain the groundwork for a semi-epic tale that ultimately gives a solid conclusion to the story of RoboCop, and demonstrates definitively that it was never the FX or the action that sold the character, but rather the other way around.
9 ans ont passe depuis cette miniserie, et c'est vraiment une merde.
Le nouveau Robocop est a chier et ressemble au mix du cadavre d'un vieillard et d'une sorciere. Le jeu est nul, les dialogues a chier, l'histoire bidon, tout pue.
Oser chier de la sorte sur Robocop est un blaspheme, et une longue torture (4x90minutes)
Comment peut-on traduire Bone Machine (le mechant naze merdique et double comme un personnage de cartoon) par RoboSquelette ???
Une grosse, grosse merde, et je me sens vraiment comme un con de l'avoir regarde jusqu'au bout.
So it wasn't good. But its good on the level you would expect from a Scifci channel movie. And with that being said its STILL better than Robocop 3. Robocop 3 did not have Bone Machine.
"You're boned baby!"
I think this film is better than Robocop 3 or at least on the same level. I gave RC3 3 stars when I reviewed it but looking back it was a little generous. Robocop is an amazing film and the sequel is good too. But the series died after that. The main villian in this movie 'Bone Machine' looks like a Power Rangers villian which dosen't help. Page Fletcher is not so great as Robocop either. From what I have seen Peter Weller is the only person who can pull off the Robocop character in my opinion. There are apparently talks of a Robocop remake being released, I am interested in seeing how that goes. But as remakes go it will probably be a disapointment.
Its pretty low budget, apparently they used the old suits from the originals, if thats true its a damn shame they didnt use an actor who fit in em! looks shocking how he stumbles his way threw everything ignoring any manorism that weller bought to the role. I watched it as im a big fan of robocop so im programmed to! lol only 3 more of these left to watch god help me!