Dir: Fred Dekker
You can't beat Paul Verhoeven's 1988 original RoboCop, it's a classic and pretty untouchable. That said, I actually really liked RoboCop 2 and I thought the 2014 remake was very clever too, updating the story and going back to the roots of the overall idea. The fact that is often overlooked is that RoboCop was originally meant to be Judge Dredd. Verhoeven lost the rights to the character after laying down the foundations of the film, so he tweaked it somewhat, changed the costume and the setting, and it's pretty obvious when you look back at it now (and if you're familiar with the 2000AD comic). Judge Dredd was created to represent neo-conservatism and was in fact a futuristic robot embodiment of Margret Thatcher - watch FutureShock! The Story Of 2000 AD if you don't believe me. RoboCop 2 was just a robot vs robot action film, a guilty pleasure but it had none of the wonderful satire of the original. In its defence though, RoboCop 3 does revisit core themes including gentrification, privatization, corruption and general capitalism, it just doesn't do it quite as well but there are bold attempts. Producers cut Frank Miller's original script for RoboCop 2 to pieces, the end result being nothing like Miller's vision. He was finally allowed to write RoboCop 3 in full but once again the producers ripped his ideas to shreds and it would be over a decade until he would have anything more to do with Hollywood. The big problems I had, apart from the fact the great Peter Weller didn't reprise the title character, is that there were never any moments of dread, no surprises, no genuine feeling that the OCP were a genuinely in-control nasty corporation. It was also clear that they decided that RoboCop 3 should be more of a kid-friendly film, the violence was toned down and one of the main characters was a child (it took a while to work out if it was a boy or a girl). Director Fred Dekker has rather graciously taken full responsibility for the film's failures since, personally I think many are to blame but he's a classy guy for saying so. There is a wonderful early 90s feel about the film that I, a self-confessed aficionado of the era, feel rather fond of. It isn't very good and it is by far the weakest film of the franchise but before it is completely rejected there are a few things of credit worth considering. Firstly, RoboCop has a jet pack. It doesn't matter who the character is, whether it is James Bond or anyone, jet packs are ace and make everything better. Secondly, RoboCop 3 the video game was awesome. I couldn't complete it and it would always crash but I spent many happy hours playing it. Thirdly, it has one of my favourite examples of early digital morphing in it. Sure, Terminator 2 did it a thousand times better two years earlier but I love the punchy effects of low-budget 90's morphing. The indestructible evil samurai robots turned out to be fairly destructible in the end but it was so worth having them in the film just to see their faces slip and twist with every Robo-punch. Lastly, without RoboCop 3 one of my favourite songs of all time would not exist. One of my favourite bands, Future of the Left, who are clearly fans of the original, wrote a song in 2012 called RoboCop 4 - F**k off RoboCop. It is a wonderful swipe at the big blockbusters, greedy producers and the general failings of Hollywood, centring around the fact that Orion were so confident that RoboCop 3 would be a success, they started production on RoboCop 4, just before going bankrupt. It's an easy watch, inoffensive and something to munch popcorn to. Not great but I'd buy it for a dollar.