Anthony LemkeMaria del MarMaurice Dean WintLeslie Hope
RoboCop: Prime Directives 2 - Meltdown
Medium: TV, film
Year: 2000
Director: Julian Grant
Writer: Brad Abraham, Michael Miner, Edward Neumeier, Joseph O'Brien
Keywords: SF, RoboCop
Country: Canada
Actor: Page Fletcher, Maurice Dean Wint, Maria del Mar, Geraint Wyn Davies, Leslie Hope, Anthony Lemke, Rebeka Coles-Budrys, Kevin Jubinville, David Fraser, Meg Hogarth, Eugene Clark, Marni Thompson, Francoise Yip, Richard Fitzpatrick, Tedde Moore
Format: 90 minutes
Website category: SF
Review date: 15 January 2012
A big step up from episode 1. All my problems have received fixes, the story's going somewhere at last and overall I'm happy to call this the only RoboCop sequel worth watching, despite the fact that I'm only halfway through.
It has both more intelligence and less stupidity, although note that I said "less" instead of "none".
The "more intelligence" bit comes from the fact that they're going somewhere with the themes. The OCP executives are getting up to more evil, but the main thing this means for RoboCop is a second RoboCop. This I really liked. Of course there's nothing wrong with an unstoppable killing machine like ED-209, the Cain-o-bot in RoboCop 2 and so on, but there's nothing ambiguous or particularly interesting about them. They're saying nothing about RoboCop himself.
Here though RoboCable is RoboCop. They're not just similar, but identical. He's another one off the long-disused production line, with the only difference being that he's new and so not built of parts ten years out of date. RoboCop and RoboCable look the same, talk the same, think the same and used to be good friends, many years ago when they were still alive. If they ever sat down and talked, they'd agree on everything. The new one though is going over the top in Judge Dredd style and obeying his bosses' evil orders as all robots and policemen should, thus reopening all the cans of worms that episode 1 had nailed shut by making its hero a hero.
You can still tell them apart, though. This is important. RoboCable is shinier and a slightly different colour, while Wint's mouth under the helmet looks different to Fletcher's.
The satire is better-targeted. That advert for the Zero Fatality Act is of course going to play best with a traditionalist American pro-gun audience, but it's also blackly hilarious in its celebration of massive death in the name of safety. "Gosh knows I sure do!" Similarly there's only a fleeting appearance for Ms "No Unnecessary Violence, Do You Hear Me?", whereas the stuff you'll remember is scenes like OCP's defence systems cutting policemen in half with lasers while saying things like, "You have maliciously defaced or destroyed the property of Omni-Consumer Products." That's the kind of thing we want in a RoboCop film. Vaughn Krass of X-ploitationNet is a pathetic joy to behold, while I laughed aloud at the Otomo advert. "May cause seizures."
More fundamentally, the story works better. It has a comparatively weak ending while episode 1's was strong, but I can forgive that since we're still only halfway through the mini-series. However en route there's all that RoboCop/Cable business, sleazier OCP executives and towards the end a little girl. I liked her. After all, RoboCop's directives do include "protect the innocent" and there's something quite powerful about seeing him trying to do so.
They're still doing interesting things with the villains, incidentally. They extend the family theme. The graveside scene I really liked, while I enjoyed the way that Jubinville is being shown not just to be an evil cock but also an annoying and crap boss who's prone to pointless micro-management. "Carver, what's your status?" Answer: wanting to kill you.
The villains in the Mandatory Opening Violence are better too. However there are still stupidities.
1. OCP seem to think that they can't shut down RoboCop except by force. Eh? He's a machine. He gets his maintenance and programming from them.
2. Why wasn't RoboCop included in the Zero Fatality Act? Obviously the real reason is that the whole thing's an unconvincing plot device to let RoboCop inflict cool violence at the start of each episode while the police do nothing, but it doesn't make sense. It would have been easy. Just update RoboCop's programming, then send him back to work.
3. Computer passwords for the highest level of corporate security, as usual in movies, are simple and easily guessed words instead of, say, a mixture of letters and numbers. They're even all-capitals.
The acting's merely okay this time, though. I really liked Wint and Fletcher last time, but here there's nothing like the flashback scenes from their cop days together. That little girl can't deliver dialogue at all, while later there's a ridiculously limp "son of a bitch" when the girl's mother sees her get gunned down. Even if she'd recognised the specific weapon and so doesn't expect her daughter to be dead, you'd still expect a stronger reaction from a mother seeing soldiers shoot her daughter with lightning bolts.
There are some surprising details. RoboCop dresses up in a Jedi cloak in a scene that shows tits, while later there's a bizarre decision to do spaghetti western music. Overall, it's recommendable. It's got everything you'd want from a RoboCop film, although obviously not to Verhoeven levels. It's got over-the-top satire, violence and evil corporate executives. It's doing something with its themes. It would have been a clearer recommendation with a stronger ending, but that's not to say that its actual ending is bad. I'm looking forward to part 3.