Robocop 3 Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Fred Dekker
Written by Frank Miller and Fred Dekker
1993, 104 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on March 21st, 2017
Robert Burke as Robocop
Nancy Allen as Lewis
Remy Ryan as Nikko
CCH Pounder as Bertha
John Castle as McDaggett
Jill Hennessy as Dr. Marie Lazarus
Bruce Locke as Otomo
Rip Torn as The CEO
Felton Perry as Johnson
Mako as Kanemitsu
The OCP Corporation is moving forward with its plans to develop Delta City on top of the ashes of Old Detroit. A special police force has been brought in to clear the remaining tenants and empty the city. A small group of resistance fighters using the sewers and an old church as their base of operations is all that remains of a once-thriving community. Street gangs rule the surrounding area and crime continues to skyrocket. Once again, Robocop is brought in to help solve things, but he has a crisis of conscience and sides with the residents. He goes underground and fights for the innocent, but his efforts are severely hampered by an assault that leaves him crippled. OCP is desperate to make this deal go through, having recently been bought out by a Japanese company that sends its own cyborg to help clean up the streets, with Robocop as its primary target.
Robocop 3 is a troubled film made by a desperate studio trying to save itself from imminent bankruptcy. The Robocop franchise had successfully branched out to include a line of toys and action figures, video games and an animated cartoon. Hoping to cash in on the younger generation’s discovery of the character, Orion Pictures ordered a family-friendly PG-13 rated entry in the film series. The problem is the previous films were built on excessive violence and adult content. Forcing the mold to revolve around a child hero and bloodless gunfights was a stress the picture could not withstand. It is easy to beat up on this lackluster movie, but I will try to refrain from comparing it to its predecessors and judge it on its own merits.
Director Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad) tells an ambitious story, one that he co-wrote with comic book legend Frank Miller (Sin City). Miller had written the previous installment and culled a lot of unused ideas into this second sequel. Dekker shaped the material into something that matched studio guidelines and soon Robocop 3 was ready for production. Franchise star Peter Weller opted not to return this time and was replaced by actor Robert John Burke (Dust Devil), who does a fine job despite spending the majority of the picture out of commission. Helping to bridge the gap is Nancy Allen (Poltergeist III) who returns to the role she created in the previous two films, Robocop’s partner, Lewis. The character was mistreated in Robocop 2 and is completely wasted in part 3, but it is always nice to see her. Many actors from the franchise return in supporting roles, but few are given much to do.
There are several new characters introduced this time around, starting with Nikko (Remy Ryan, Monkey Trouble), our young protagonist ripped from her family and protected by the resistance fighters. She is a good actress who provides plenty of cute moments but is sadly out of place in this series. CCH Pounder (Psycho IV) stars as Bertha, leader of the rebels who takes Nikko in. She is a great addition to the film and provides an untapped strength missing from the majority of the cast. John Castle (Blow-Up) and Bruce Locke (Servants of Twilight) play the villains McDaggett and Otomo respectively and both do a fine job without chewing up too much of the scenery. TV favorite Jill Hennessy (Law & Order) is the sympathetic Dr. Lazarus, chief technician and savior of Robocop.
There are many familiar faces that appear in smaller roles, including the great Rip Torn (Beastmaster) as OCP’s CEO and Bradley Whitford (Get Out) as a corporate hatchet man. Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) makes an early appearance as a clerk at a donut shop, while Stephen Root (Night of the Scarecrow) and Daniel von Bargen (Lord of Illusions) play members of the resistance. Franchise regulars Felton Perry (Magnum Force) and Robert Do’Qui (Nashville) return as Johnson and Sgt. Reed respectively and both are welcome faces. There really is a lot going on in Robocop 3, but the problem is that none of it feels connected. Scenes simply play out one after another without really ever building to a climactic moment. One “highlight” is the appearance of Robocop’s jetpack that allows the character to fly during the final battle, but the effect is a bit hokey and simply comes off as silly.
Robocop 3 falls short of the mark on most levels and stands on its own as a mediocre movie. Considering it as part of a successful franchise, the picture really feels like a total letdown compared to what came before. Director Fred Dekker is quick to take the blame in his commentary track and accompanying interview on this disc, but argues for some of the elements that actually do work throughout the picture. The film was shot right as Robocop 2 was hitting theaters in 1990, but sat on the shelf until a less-than-stellar release in 1993. Orion Pictures folded not long after and the property was sold off to MGM. There has been at least one bare-bones release of this title on Blu-ray before, but Scream Factory has opted to give this title the full Collector’s Edition treatment and takes a deep look at the production, warts and all. This title is worth picking up for the stories alone, as Dekker is surprisingly candid about the many shortcomings.
Video and Audio:
Robocop 3 arrives with the same transfer used in the earlier Blu-ray release, but looks fine. Colors are strong and black levels are solid. Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Gary Kibbe’s (They Live) cinematography looks terrific.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio from the previous disc is ported over here and it does a fine job, but audiences will be happy to hear the all-new DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that Scream Factory has included for this edition. The expanded soundtrack is a welcome treat that plays across the room during the numerous action scenes throughout the picture.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Scream Factory assembles a wide range of all-new bonus features that really make this disc worth owning.
A pair of audio commentaries kicks things off, the first with director Fred Dekker, moderated by Michael Felsher (Red Shirt Pictures). The conversation is insightful and honest, as Dekker is well aware of the problems with the film. His stories are pretty amazing and well worth your time.
The second commentary is from the group responsible for RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop; Eastwood Allen, Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart. These guys are super fans of the franchise and have a lot to say about the picture.
As previously noted, this was a troubled production and in the new featurette Delta City Shuffle (38 minutes), the filmmakers get a chance to explain themselves. Dekker is joined by producer Patrick Crowley, actors Nancy Allen and Bruce Locke, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark. This is another quality segment that delves into what went wrong with the project.
Robo-Vision (12 minutes) interviews members of the stop-motion special effects team and provides a technical look back at their efforts which were comparatively less than the previous installment.
Franchise regular Felton Perry discusses his role as OCP Vice President Johnson in all three films in this new interview, The Corporate Ladder (11 minutes)
Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki go into detail on the actor’s training to play a cyber-ninja in the interview piece Training Otomo (8 minutes).
In War Machine (9 minutes), gun fabricator James Belohvek discusses his contributions to the film.
Marketing for the picture is covered with a theatrical trailer and a still gallery of production images.
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