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RoboCop 3 – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Robocop 3Like Dr. Sam Beckett used to do through time, Scream Factory (Shout! Factory, in general) is on a mission to put right what once wrong.  Giving to us the versions of films we like that celebrate the fan and collector, while the studio original just put out a minimal effort.  And now its time to give some love to the RoboCop sequels.  I’m pretty sure nobody prefers either over the original, but the second film has its fans (I’m sorta one) at least.  Despite their quality, these misses always make for a great retrospective documentary, making the film worth owning or taking another look at.  On March 14th, RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 will get some beefy Collector’s Edition releases from Scream Factory.  In this review, we’ll look at RoboCop 3.

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Film 

He’s Back… To Lay Down the Law! It’s Megacop vs. Megacorp when Detroit’s cyborg crime-fighter hits the streets to protect the innocent – this time from corporate greed! When the ruthless corporation that runs Motor City begins kicking families out of their homes to clear space for a profitable new real estate project, RoboCop joins with a renegade band of freedom fighters to save them. But RoboCop must face some deadly foes, including a lethally efficient android and a dangerous gang of thugs. RoboCop’s latest arsenal of high-tech weaponry only somewhat evens the battlefield, as this lone superhero takes on the entire army of corporate militia in an all-out war to control Detroit!

So, this is the best one, right guys?  This third and final piece to the Robocop trilogy saved all the best for last?  They brought Frank Miller in to try and use the elements missing from his script for 2, they got most of the cast back for one last hurrah.  Robocop gets more weapons. The city has gone under complete siege and looks like the apocalypse happened.  This is it right?  The ultimate finale.

Well…its the furthest thing from.  As I mentioned in the previous entry, I had never seen this movie coming in.  The only thing I knew about it was that Peter Weller did not return and we get a new Robocop.  And boy, is Weller instantly missed.  Aside from costume, this Robocop is nothing like Weller’s.  This is what you get when you just put a guy in a costume.  The two actors do look similar enough that you can accept that this is the same character, but ultimate this performance is overdoing it moreso than Weller ever did.  Weller became the machine, this guy is acting like one.  I almost thought we were in for a reboot and a brand new character as Robocop the way this film started.  But, alas, we were only being introduced to the the little girl and her dad, who I thought was gonna wind up being some “next Robocop” or something, ends up being dead.

My expectations were set pretty low going in, but watching the opening credits I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited at some of the names being thrown my way.  My hopes were that maybe seeing it for the first time years removed and expecting the worst, it might not be as bad as I heard.  Fred Dekker’s name excited me, because I am a big fan of his two previous directorial efforts, The Monster Squard and Night Of The Creeps.  Also, Stephen Root is in this as well as Bradley Whitford and Jill Hennessy.  They also got most of the main cast back aside from Peter Weller.  I was surprised Nancy Allen came back, but once she’s off’d at the end of the first act it made sense.  She didn’t even look like she was trying to be a cop (not that she was that convincing of one in any of the films).  Her hair is finally grown out and her posture is just like “I’m here, lets shoot this”.  But, hey, props to her for always coming back.

There was some sort of demented thing in the 80s with R-rated movies and children.  We all wanted to see them so bad, because they looked so awesome, but we were too young and our parents said “no”.  So that thought of defiance made us want to watch them more.  The studios knew all this and shyly and slickly were marketing this stuff to kids.  It was wild.  We couldn’t see Rambo’s movies, but we sure could buy the action figures and watch the cartoon.  Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger were hell on Earth, but the video games for Nintendo?  Sure, go play them til your thumbs tire out.  Us kids had all sorts of knowledge and familiarity with these characters, settings and accessories without ever seeing one of these movies.  It was really really strange.  It’d be like making No Country For Old Men toys for kids when that came out.

Robocop was possibly the poster child for all this.  And how could a kid NOT think he was awesome.  It was totally something of a kids ultimate fantasy.  Like I said, this was my first R movie and I was 7 maybe when I finally saw it and I wasn’t supposed to.  Why did I just decide to bring this topic up now?  Because Robocop 3 is where they finally gave in and made one for kids.  They trimmed the rating down to a PG-13, which is far less restricting from a parent when the young boy wants to see Robocop.  The film also has a kid character that is a robotics whiz and assists in helping Robocop save the day.  The tone is much lighter and far less gritty.  It almost looks like Thunderdome in a big city.  Oh, and the best part…Robocop now has accessories, a removable arm that you can replace with different weapons and JET PACK!  All for those important action figure sales to come when this movie hits theaters.

And what was popular with the kids in 1993?  NINJAS!  With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, 3 Ninjas Franchise and little movies like Surf Ninjas…my generation was CRAZY about some stealthy kung fu action.  So, of course Robocop had to get in on that action.  The big bad can’t just be some grumpy old businessmen.  And giant robots were yesterdays news and had been done in the previous 2 films.  So, here, in order to save money on the budget, we get a cyborg samurai/ninja/something to combat our crime fighting robot hero.  I will say there is a really cool moment where Robocop breaks one of the ninja robots’ face and it kinda has this shatter look to it.

I could see that Robocop 3 was for kids much early on into it.  And my guard went down quite a bit as I realized that this was not for me and was never going to completely satisfy me.  The movie was pretty dumb, but because of my awareness early on, I shrugged because it was for kids.  I enjoyed seeing a lot of actors I liked in this, especially Whitford.  So that made for some enjoyment.  Noticeable from the sets and costuming, this movie is cheap, but it just makes it more look like something for the kids.  I’m not making excuses or saying that Robocop 3 is underrated or that we all need to go back an give it another look.  No, no, no.  It is indeed a bad movie, but…it’s for kids in almost the same way many of those 90s kids movies are.  Its just this one has the mystique of being tied to a rated R franchise and sold as something for the adults.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  There are no notes on the transfer, unlike the 2nd one, and by comparing the old version, I’m pretty certain this is the same transfer or comes from it.  It solid, not quite in line with a studio not giving a crap (I’m talking Fox, NOT Shout! Factory), but moreso in a little more than an “also ran” kind of effort.  It does the trick well enough.  This is RoboCop 3 we are talking about after all.

Depth:  Depth is okay here.  Interiors prove pretty impressive at times and the scene where RoboCop jets off is good enough for what we’re given.  Movements are smooth and cinematic with no real jitter or blur that would be harmful or distracting.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and pretty dark here in this transfer.  Details in the shadows and on surfaces/clothing articles can be lost.  I didn’t witness any crushing on this pass for the review.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bit dingier in this compared to the second film.  Though, its all in a natural, grimy and gritty fashion for the aesthetic.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones look natural with a consistent scene to scene appearance.  Facials details appear better in close ups than medium and further away shots.  Dried oil, cuts, scrapes, wrinkles, stubble, moles and the like all come through.

Noise/Artifacts: Some light grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  RoboCop 3’s 5.1 mix is likely identical to the previous release.  And its a rock solid, banging, crashing, exploding time.  There are some really impressive moments with speaker travel and the like.  Effects are solid in terms of their layering and depth.  Nothing to wow the world, but good enough to enhance your viewing of the movie.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Gunshots, explosions, robot footsteps, rubble crumbling, cars crashing…you know the drill.  It all booms and rumbles well enough.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is some surprisingly good involvement from the rear channels in this mix.  Nothing out of this world, but just unexpected.  Sound travels accurately through the front to go along with some nice volume settings for distances.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are good and clear with a good volume placement in the mix.

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Extras 

RoboCop 3 – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Fred Dekker
  • With “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” Team

Delta City Shuffle: The Making of RoboCop 3 (HD, 38:27) – Features director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark.  A brutally honest look back at a film that failed on many levels.  Fred Dekker has some great ideas that he has had in the years since that ramping up the ridiculousness would have helped the film in the long run. He cites having Nancy Allen return in the 3rd act as a cyborg and the OCP building becoming a giant robot as some of those ideas.

Robo-Vision: The FX of RoboCop 3 (HD, 12:03) – Features Peter Kuran, Phil Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry. Tippett says he didn’t do as much with this one and sort of passed the torch onto Craig Hayes. They go over the effects and action sequences in the film and talk about the early CG work that the studio used in this film that was similar to stop-motion.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder (HD, 10:48) – Interview with actor Felton Perry.  The actor goes over his experience with the 3 films and his in depth background study on the history and psyche of his character.

Training Otomo (HD, 8:37) – Interview with actor Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki.  They discuss their prep for pre-production and the fighting and styles used in the film.

War Machine (HD, 9:17) – Interview with RoboCop gun fabricator James Belohovek.  He goes over his different duties on this film where he got to do props and model work for the film, specifically the gun that was attached to the arm of RoboCop in this film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:02)

Still Gallery (HD, 7:07)

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Summary 

Yeah, RoboCop 3 is pretty much garbage, but its also a weird, fascinating piece of garbage.  Sucks that this was a bit of a waste of Fred Dekker.  What isn’t a waste is this Blu-ray from Scream Factory.  Its not as loaded as the one for the second film, but there is still PLENTY and is rich in the interview/documentary additions which matters the most.  It also looks and sounds quite good.  If you’re a completist and iffy on the film, this is a worthy addition to your collection on the strength on bonus materials alone.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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