Robocop 2 [1990]

Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Early on in Robocop 3, an action figure of our metal hero on the nightstand in a little girl's room informs us that he's now become a children's toy. The image is right on the money; despite following up two of the most violent, hilarious sci-fi/action films ever made, Robocop 3 is strictly for the kiddies. It's not just that the gore has been toned down considerably to make for a PG-13 rating; also excised is the straight-faced portrait of a world run by corporate fascism. When evil corporation OCP, and its even more evil Japanese parent company, plan to raze a Detroit neighborhood to put up the shining new Delta City, the residents (including the aforementioned adolescent, who conveniently happens to be a computer expert) gang up to fight back, just like the angry neighbors in Death Wish V. Robocop (played this time out by Robert John Burke, Peter Weller having wisely passed) could be a hindrance to the companies' plans, so a ninja android is sent in to deal with him. Even all this could have been enjoyable, in a campy sort of way, but nothing pays off as either comedy or action--tellingly, the two big showdowns with the ninja start exhilaratingly (Robocop's clunky movements hilariously counterpoised by the android's acrobatic leaps), only to end just when they're getting good. Director Fred Dekker has some nice stylistic touches scattered about, but not nearly enough to save the film. One high note, though: The animated "Johnny Rehab" spot may be the funniest ad in the whole series. --Bruce Reid

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