Monday, July 26, 2004

Robocop 2

I hadn't seen Robocop 2 in a long time. I'm trying to remember if I've seen it on video at all, and can't quite remember. I think I did shortly after it came out.

Anyway, my memories of it were very positive, and it's odd that I've not watched it since then, since I've seen Robocop as many times as anything else I've watched in those years. Perhaps my stronger memory of the original is what brings this down.

Directed by Irvin Kershner, director of The Empire Strikes Back, from a story by Frank Miller, it has a lot going for it. The concept is excellent.

Unfortunately, the execution suffers from the same problems that plague Empire's successors, starting with Return Of The Jedi. It's too much about the story and not enough about the characters. The story is good, and comes close to hooking you, but too much time away from Murphy and Lewis allows the mind to lose focus.

Not to mention the fact that, hard as they try, they aren't able to come up with antagonists that can compare to Miguel Ferrer, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox and Paul McCrane. Not that I can think of too many movies that can, but this one particularly suffers for it. It tries to recast The Old Man as the symbol of corporate corruption, but that seems to contradict his character meaning from the first movie.

Tom Noonan does a fine job as Cain, the drug-cult leader, but it doesn't ever quite catch fire. Gabriel Damon is intriguingly menacing as Hob, the child villain, but, again, it's not quite as strong as it could be.

That brings us to the weak link of Belinda Bauer as Dr. Faxx. The character is poorly developed and even more poorly acted. Along with Willard Pugh's almost racist mayor character, it brings it down from a good movie that doesn't live up to its predecessor to an interesting movie that doesn't quite achieve its own terms.

There's certainly some kick-ass action and the concepts are quite interesting. It could have been made into something that really expanded on the original, but it just sort of hangs there as some interesting ideas hiding in the background of a mediocre action flick.

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