RoboCop 2

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RoboCop 2
Robo2poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIrvin Kershner
Produced byJon Davison
Screenplay by
Story byFrank Miller
Based on
Characters
by
Starring
Music byLeonard Rosenman
CinematographyMark Irwin
Edited by
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • June 22, 1990 (1990-06-22)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$35 million
Box office$45.7 million[1][2]

RoboCop 2 is a 1990 American science fiction action film[3] directed by Irvin Kershner (replacing Paul Verhoeven from the first film), written by Frank Miller and Walon Green, and starring Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan and Gabriel Damon. It is the first sequel to the 1987 film RoboCop[4] and the second entry in the RoboCop media franchise. Set in the near future in a dystopian metropolitan Detroit, the plot centers around the eponymous RoboCop (Weller) as he becomes embroiled in a scheme by Omni Consumer Products to bankrupt and take over the city while also fighting the spread of a highly-addictive street drug and its leader, the cult-like Cain (Noonan). The film was shot on-location in Houston.[5] It was the final theatrically-released film directed by Kershner.[6]

While receiving mixed reviews from critics and fans,[7] the film received attention in 2013 from news media due to its plot predicting Detroit filing for bankruptcy in the future.[8] It was nominated for three Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Performance by a Younger Actor (for Damon), and Best Special Effects (for Phil Tippett, Rob Bottin, and Peter Kuran).

Plot[edit]

In the near future, Detroit is on the verge of bankruptcy after failing to pay off its debts to conglomerate Omni Consumer Products (OCP). The OCP chairman intends to have the city default on its debt, then foreclose on all public property, effectively taking over its government and allowing for a radical urban redevelopment plan. To rally public opinion behind the project, OCP sparks an increase in street crime by terminating the privatized Detroit Police Department's pension plans and cutting salaries, triggering a police strike.

RoboCop remains on duty with his partner, Anne Lewis. They raid a manufacturing plant of Nuke, a new designer drug that plagues Detroit. The cartel's leader Cain and his adolescent accomplice Hob escape. RoboCop has flashbacks to his previous life as Alex Murphy, and has begun watching his wife and son outside their home. Still grieving over the death of her husband, his wife brings litigation against OCP, complaining of harassment. After he is dressed down by his handlers, RoboCop tells his wife that Murphy is dead.

OCP struggles to develop RoboCop 2, a police droid intended for mass production to replace the striking police force, which is fitted with the brains of dead police officers like the original RoboCop. However, the resurrected police officers keep committing suicide upon activation. Psychologist Dr. Juliette Faxx convinces the Chairman to let her control the project, this time using a criminal with a desire for power and immortality instead of police officers.

Cain, a drug kingpin with a messianic following who is also addicted to Nuke, fears losing his grip in the wake of the Delta City project, and uses corrupt police officer Duffy to undermine OCP and RoboCop's enforcement efforts. RoboCop tracks down Duffy and beats the location of Cain's hideout out of him. He confronts Cain's gang at an abandoned construction site, but he walks into a trap and is overwhelmed. The criminals cut apart RoboCop's body and dump the pieces in front of his precinct. Cain has Duffy vivisected for revealing their location and forces Hob to watch.

RoboCop is repaired, but Faxx reprograms him with hundreds of confusing new directives at the insistence of the OCP Board of Directors, severely impeding his ability to perform his duties. RoboCop eventually clears these by shocking himself with a high voltage transformer and rebooting his system. Murphy motivates the striking officers to aid him in raiding Cain's hideout. As Cain tries to escape, RoboCop wounds and apprehends him. Hob escapes and takes control of Cain's drug empire. Believing she can control Cain via his Nuke addiction, Faxx selects him for the RoboCop 2 project and disconnects his life support. Surgeons place his brain in a heavily armed robotic body and reactivate him.

After failing to pay the city's debts via voluntary fundraising, the Mayor is contacted by Hob, who offers to retire the city's entire debt in exchange for a "hands off" policy towards Nuke, thereby nullifying OCP's scheme and preventing Delta City's construction. Threatened by this move, OCP sends Cain to the meeting. Cain slaughters everyone but the mayor, who escapes. RoboCop arrives to find a wounded Hob, who identifies the attacker before dying.

The chairman presents an unveiling ceremony for Cain and Delta City, their redevelopment plan. When he presents a canister of Nuke, Cain's uncontrollable addiction causes him to attack the crowd. RoboCop arrives and fights Cain, and their battle extends to the street. RoboCop recovers the Nuke canister and Lewis uses it to distract Cain. RoboCop leaps onto his back, shoots through his armor and rips out his brain, ending Cain's rampage. The Chairman and Johnson decide to scapegoat Faxx to free OCP. As Lewis complains that OCP is escaping accountability again, RoboCop insists they must be patient because "we're only human".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming[edit]

RoboCop 2 was chiefly filmed in Houston in 1989.[9][10] In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Kershner mentioned that Houston was an ideal location due to the relative calmness of Downtown Houston at night. He also claimed that they were shooting in winter, and snow and rain would be an inappropriate climate for film production.

Jefferson Davis Hospital was used as the location for the Nuke manufacturing plant.[11] The finale of the film was shot in the Houston Theater District near Wortham Theater Center and Alley Theatre.[12] Cullen Center was depicted as the headquarters of Omni Consumer Products, while Houston City Hall was shown in a scene in which Mayor Kuzak speaks to the press. The George R. Brown Convention Center and the Bank of America Center were also included in the film. Additional footage was filmed at the decommissioned Hiram Clarke Power Plant.

Release[edit]

Marketing[edit]

To promote the film, RoboCop made a guest appearance at WCW's pay-per-view event Capital Combat, where he rescued Sting from The Four Horsemen.[13][14]

Box office[edit]

RoboCop 2 debuted as the second-highest-grossing film at the box office in its opening weekend.[15][16] It went on to gross $45.7 million at the U.S. box office[1] and additional $22,505,000 from video rentals.[17]

Critical response[edit]

It received mixed reviews from critics. While the special effects and action sequences are widely praised, a common complaint was that the film did not focus enough on RoboCop and his partner Lewis and that the film's human story of the man trapped inside the machine was ultimately lost within a sea of violence.

In his Chicago Sun Times review, Roger Ebert wrote: "Cain's sidekicks include a violent, foul-mouthed young boy named Hob, who looks to be about 12 years old but kills people without remorse, swears like Eddie Murphy, and eventually takes over the drug business... The movie's screenplay is a confusion of half-baked and unfinished ideas... the use of that killer child is beneath contempt."[18]

Additionally, the film "reset" RoboCop's character by turning him back into the monotone-voiced peacekeeper seen early in the first film, despite his reclaiming his human identity and personality by the end of that film. Many were also critical of the child villain Hob; David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews stated, "That the film asks us to swallow a moment late in the story that features Robo taking pity on an injured Hob is heavy-handed and ridiculous (we should probably be thankful the screenwriters didn't have RoboCop say something like, 'Look at what these vile drugs have done to this innocent boy')."[19]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Unlike RoboCop, a clever and original science-fiction film with a genuinely tragic vision of its central character, Robocop 2 doesn't bother to do anything new. It freely borrows the situation, characters and moral questions posed by the first film." She further adds, "The difference between Robocop and its sequel, [...] is the difference between an idea and an afterthought." She also expressed her opinion about the Hob character, "The aimlessness of Robocop 2 runs so deep that after exploiting the inherent shock value of such an innocent-looking killer, the film tries to capitalize on his youth by also giving him a tearful deathbed scene."[20] The Los Angeles Times published a review panning the film as well.[21]

Jay Scott, of The Globe and Mail, was one of the few prominent critics who admired the film calling it a "sleek and clever sequel. For fans of violent but clever action films, RoboCop 2 may be the sultry season's best bet: you get the gore of Total Recall and the satiric smarts of Gremlins 2: The New Batch in one high-tech package held together by modest B-movie strings. RoboCop 2 alludes to classics of horror and science-fiction (Frankenstein, Metropolis, Westworld), for sure, but it also evokes less rarefied examples of the same genres–Forbidden Planet, Godzilla, and that Z-movie about Hitler's brain in a bottle. It's ironic that the directorial coach of the first RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven, went on to Total Recall; couldn't he see that the script for Robo 2 was sleeker and swifter than Arnie's cumbersome vehicle? His absence in the driver's seat is happily unnoticed because Irvin Kershner, the engineer of sequels that often zip qualitatively past the originals (The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of a Man Called Horse, and the best Sean ConneryJames Bond of all, Never Say Never Again), has tuned-up the premise until it purrs."[22]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected 36 reviews to give the film a score of 31%, with an average rating of 4.45 out of 10. The site's consensus reads, "A less satisfying rehash that generally lives down to the negative stereotype of sequels, Robocop 2 tries to deliver more of everything and ends up with less".[7] The plot element of Detroit's bankruptcy received attention from the news media after this actually happened in 2013.[8]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released to VHS on December 13, 1990, and was later released to DVD in 1998. The film first received a Blu-ray release in 2011.

Music[edit]

RoboCop 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
ReleasedDecember 21, 1992
Recorded1990
GenreSoundtrack
Length30:19
LabelVarèse Sarabande
ProducerLeonard Rosenman
Leonard Rosenman chronology
Where Pigeons Go to Die
(1990)
RoboCop 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(1992)
Aftermath: A Test of Love
(1991)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.0/5 stars[23]

The film score was composed and conducted by Leonard Rosenman, who did not use any of Basil Poledouris's themes from the first film, instead composing entirely new themes and leitmotifs. The soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande.

The glam metal group Babylon A.D. released a song called "The Kid Goes Wild", written by members Derek Davis, Vic Pepe, and Jack Ponti.[24] The song is played in the background in the middle part of the film, and it was also used to promote the film. The group created a music video featuring RoboCop targeting the band and having a shootout with some bad guys (footage of the film was also used).

Track listing
  1. "Overture: Robocop" – 6:02
  2. "City Mayhem" – 3:37
  3. "Happier Days" – 1:28
  4. "Robo Cruiser" – 4:40
  5. "Robo Memories" – 2:07
  6. "Robo and Nuke" – 2:22
  7. "Robo Fanfare" – 0:32
  8. "Robo and Cain Chase" – 2:41
  9. "Creating the Monster" – 2:47
  10. "Robo I vs. Robo II" – 3:41

Other media[edit]

Novel[edit]

A mass market paperback novelization by Ed Naha, titled RoboCop 2: A Novel, was published by Jove Books. Marvel Comics produced a three-issue adaptation of the film by Alan Grant. Like the novelization, the comic book series includes scenes omitted from the finished movie.

Comic books[edit]

Frank Miller's original screenplay for RoboCop 2 was turned into a nine-part comic book series titled Frank Miller's RoboCop. Critical reaction to the comic adaptation of the Miller script was mixed. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the comic a "D" score, criticizing the "tired story" and lack of "interesting action."[25] A recap written for the pop culture humor website I-Mockery said, "Having spent quite a lot of time with these comics over the past several days researching and writing this article, I can honestly say that it makes me want to watch the movie version of RoboCop 2 again just so I can get the bad taste out of my mouth. Or prove to myself that the movie couldn't be worse than this."[26]

Sequel[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Robocop 2 (1990) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
  2. ^ "RoboCop 2 (1990) - Financial Information". The-numbers.com. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  3. ^ "RoboCop 2 (1990) - Irvin Kershner". AllMovie.
  4. ^ Kershner, Irvin (July 16, 1990). "RoboCop 2: Entertainment, Yes but Also a Hero for Our Times". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  5. ^ "When 'Robocop 2' came to Houston". Houston Chronicle. June 23, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  6. ^ "Irvin Kershner". IMDb. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "RoboCop 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Gross, Max (February 9, 2014). "'RoboCop' predictions that came true – and those that did not". New York Post.
  9. ^ Westbrook, Bruce (June 22, 1990). "'RoboCop 2' creators give city rave reviews". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Westbrook, Bruce (December 14, 1990). "'Gremlins' sequel better than the original film". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  11. ^ J.R. Gonzales (February 1, 2009). "Old Jeff Davis Hospital gets state recognition". http://www.houstonchronicle.com. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 14, 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  12. ^ Dyer, R.A. (October 13, 1989). "Hollywood in Houston? Scores flock to filming of 'Robocop 2'". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Kelly, Tim (March 19, 2013). "When RoboCop Saved Sting and Ruined Professional Wrestling". CHUD.com. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  14. ^ Mrosko, Greg (June 24, 2012). "Video: WWE Are You Serious? Makes Fun of WCW, RoboCop Rescuing Sting". Cageside Seats. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (June 25, 1990). "'Tracy' Stands Firm at No. 1; 'RoboCop2' Is 2". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  16. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (June 26, 1990). "'Dick Tracy' Clings to No. 1 Spot Second Week in a Row". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  17. ^ "Box office / business for RoboCop 2 (1990)". IMDb.com. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 22, 1990). "Robocop 2". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  19. ^ Nusair, David. "Robocop 2". Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  20. ^ Maslin, Janet (June 22, 1990). "Review / Film; New Challenge and Enemy For a Cybernetic Organism". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  21. ^ Rainer, Peter (June 22, 1990). "An Overhauled 'RoboCop 2'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  22. ^ Scott, Jay (June 22, 1990). "RoboCop 2". The Globe and Mail. p. C.8.
  23. ^ www.allmusic.com https://www.allmusic.com/album/robocop-2-original-motion-picture-soundtrack-mw0000308286. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "The Kid Goes Wild - Babylon A.D. - Song Info". AllMusic.
  25. ^ Review by Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, September 5, 2003
  26. ^ "Frank Miller's Roboflop", I-Mockery, March 31, 2008

External links[edit]