Monthly Archives: February 2012

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! parts 7, 8, 9 & 10

You know the score by now.


Robocop: Prime Directives

Julian Grant


Rating **

“Parts 7 to 10?” I hear you cry. Well let me explain. As I have stated in previous entries in this diabolical series, all of the films are grouped together into groups of four of the same genre. This week’s entry is slightly different as it is not exactly a genre, well, unless you count ‘Robocop’ as a genre. Yes this week’s episode sees me tackle four feature length Robocop movies, and no, they’re not the ones you would have seen. I couldn’t get that lucky.

As a kid I must have seen the first Robocop movie dozens of times. Yes my parents let me watch Robocop as a kid, they were middle class. That meant that if a girl was being hacked up by a chainsaw that was fine as long as nobody had sex at any point. Anyway it’s not done me any harm. True I can’t properly achieve arousal unless I put on a hockey mask and chase a girl through the woods but otherwise, you know, I’m pretty normal.

Sorry what were we talking about? Ah yes, Robocop! I even watched the 2nd movie which was OK but lacked the fun of the first movie, but by the time the 15 rated, jetpack wearing Robocop 3 came around I had long since lost interest. There then came two animated series and a kiddie friendly live action TV series, none of which seemed to set the world alight. Then came this, known as ‘Robocop: Prime Directives’ which is comprised four feature length TV movies which continued the story arc from the original films. All four share the same story line, a story line which is in no way close to being as interesting as the first movie (or even the second). So as our American chums say “you do the math”. The first Robocop was 107 minutes long, this comes in at just under 6 hours. Ouch.

It picks up 10 years after Robocop came to be, we know this from a hilarious scene in which Robocop attends his own birthday party. We also get to see some back story from back when Robo was just good old Alex Murphy, out on patrol with his partner John Cable. These flashbacks are actually some of the best and least ridiculous parts of the film which is unfortunate as they all but abandon them by the second film. Cable hasn’t taken too well to his old partner’s Robofication and is still smarting about a time Murphy failed to shoot a bad guy who had a gun to Cable’s head.

The same thing happens again later on only with a sillier bad guy.

While all this is going on, OCP (the company who built Robocop) are creating a new sentient computer program called SAINT which will completely automate Delta City, but would you know it, some evil execs want to use it for shenanigans.

Urgh! Let’s speed this up! Cable dies, gets brought back as RoboCable (which they at least have the good sense never to call him outside of the DVD case). He and Robocop are framed by OCP and have to go rogue with the help from some mercenaries. Some camp guy is trying to infect SAINT with a virus because OCP fired him ages ago. Robo and Cable intermittently team up or shoot at each other depending on the whim of the story. Everyone ends up at OCP headquarters where Cable sacrifices himself to save the city and Robocop, who heads off into the sunset to fight crime. Oh yeah, Robo’s son also works for OCP, he didn’t like Robo at first but by the end he did. Fin!

What?! You try to summarise six hours of tripe in a couple of paragraphs. This isn’t Lord of the Rings you know?

Well, what an absolute chore this was! Where as usually I can take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad a movie is, it will all be over in about 90 minutes, this just went on and on. It’s hard to sum up what was so bad about it all, it was just really, really “meh”. It didn’t matter if smarmy OCP execs were having a business meeting or it was the middle of a gun fight full of explosions, I just remained resolutely bored throughout. How do you make Cyborgs fighting boring?

It’s just all very TV. From the acting, to the effects, to the script everything is just very average. Page Fletcher, who play Robocop does a pretty good job as Alex Murphy in the flashbacks, but as Robocop he looks like a kid in a homemade robot costume or Kryten from Red Dwarf. It doesn’t help that he’s shorter than almost everyone else in the cast, plus, and this may sound shallow, he has quite a prominent nose. This is not a problem when he’s Murphy but where as Peter Weller looked badass when he took his helmet off as Robocop poor Page looks more like the Tin Man.

Fans of 24 will recognise Leslie ‘Mrs Bauer’ Hope as the decidedly butch and terribly named renegade Ann R. Key but other than her it’s just a sea of bland TV actors. The OCP execs are particularly grating, all passive aggressive smirking and looking out of the top of their eyes. Characters change motivation seemingly on a whim as the story dictates, as I mentioned earlier, Robocop and Cable spend half the movie fighting and half of it working together. Speaking of the Robos, I’m pretty sure the 2nd prime directive given to Robocop was ‘Protect the innocent’, though apparently this doesn’t extend to military police or security guards who are just doing their jobs in trying to stop the metallic pair. Also, businessmen do not good villains make, our main antagonist has lots of meetings and bosses people around, and that’s about it. Hans Gruber he is not.

But the main problem I had with it all is that throughout Robocop is just a bit rubbish. I know that the idea is that he is becoming obsolete but almost from the off he gets beaten up over and over again and is constantly having to be rescued and patched up. He’s a long way from the Robocop who spiked Clarence Boddicker in the throat despite having just had two tons of steel dropped on him in the first movie.

The script is terrible; lines get repeated seemingly because the writers thought they were poignant whereas it just serves to remind you how cheesy they were. They try to give Robocop a sort of Terminator 2 style humanisation as the films go along, this also fails and simply turns him into a wisecracking ass who keeps getting beaten up.

Also there’s no ED209, I fucking loved ED209!

As painful as this was, I take strength in knowing that not only did I mange to knock out four movies in a single article, but no matter how bad the rest of them get they’ll never be the endurance test this one was. Now, I wonder how much the original Robocop is on DVD.