Release Date(s)1990 (March 21, 2017)
Studio(s)Orion Pictures/MGM (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
After the success of Paul Verhoeven’s action/satire masterpiece RoboCop in 1987, it shouldn’t have been surprising that the movie would eventually get a sequel. Besides being a sensation in theaters and through VHS rentals, it also had a somewhat broader appeal that, for better or worse, blossomed into a franchise. The story of how RoboCop 2 came into being (which is well-documented on this new Blu-ray release) is that of a company reaching for further success while on the verge of collapsing: Orion Pictures. In any case, for many, RoboCop 2 is not the sequel they were hoping for.
Rushed into production without a finished script, and with a director who hadn’t made a film in quite some time, it’s amazing that anything approaching watchable came out of RoboCop 2. It feels directionless, with ideas that aren’t fully explored. Cain’s fate, in particular, seems to come out of nowhere and guides the movie’s last half, especially after RoboCop is taken out of commission for a good portion of the running time. RoboCop 2 also felt a little darker in tone. It attempted to maintain a satirical edge, with oddball commercials and TV broadcasts, but never fully succeeded. One scene in particular worked against this, in which a character is literally strapped to a table and sliced down the middle while screaming. While there was unquestionably over-the-top violence in the first movie, there was nothing approaching that level of horror. It was disturbing then and it still is.
RoboCop 2 still did fairly well when it opened, given the success of its predecessor. Thankfully, the folks behind the scenes did their best to deliver as strong a product as possible, particularly when it came to the practical and optical special effects. They really are the star of the show here. But in reaction to this film’s gruesome violence, RoboCop’s crossover appeal with children would be favored with future entries in the franchise. A PG-13 sequel, various animated and live action TV shows, comic books, and video games were all soon to follow.
Scream Factory brings RoboCop 2 to Blu-ray with a transfer sourced from a new 2K scan of the film’s interpositive element. While still retaining some softness due to the use of filters and opticals for the special effects shots, this is easily the movie’s best home video presentation. It’s quite film-like, with solid grain levels and high levels of detail. The intricacies of RoboCop’s armor, in all of its chrome blue glory, look better than ever, while both facial textures and costumes look more defined. Color reproduction is also impressive, particularly in many of the city streets at night, with a variety of hues apparent. Black levels are quite deep, with excellent brightness and contrast, and there’s little to no major film artifacts leftover other than some extremely minor wobble in a couple of places. There are two audio options: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD. The 5.1 track definitely has plenty of surround activity. Sound effects and score come through well, the former jumping from speaker to speaker, offering up strong dynamics and frequent LFE activity for gunshots and explosions. Dialogue reproduction is also good, and the mix as a whole is clean and clear. The 2.0 track is similar, but with less space to move around, obviously. Subtitles are offered in English SDH for those who might need them.
Scream Factory also has a large bounty of new extras to choose from here. There are two audio commentaries, one with author and CGI supervisor Paul M. Sammon, and the other with the Robodoc: The Creation of RoboCop documentary team: Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths, and Eastwood Allen. There are two new half hour documentaries as well – Corporate Wars: The Making of RoboCop 2 and Machine Parts: The FX of RoboCop 2, which blend interviews (new and old) together. Also included is Robo-Fabricator, an interview with RoboCop armor fabricator James Belohovek; Adapting Frank Miller’s RoboCop 2, an interview with comic book writer Steven Grant; and one of the best new extras, O.C.P. Declassified, which is a collection of rare archival production and behind-the-scenes videos including an interview with producer Jon Davison, an interview with director Irvin Kershner, an interview with actor Peter Weller, an interview with actor Dan O’Herlihy, behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of a deleted scene, behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of a faux TV commercial for the movie that was never used, an anti-drug PSA featuring RoboCop that was produced and directed by Paul M. Sammon, an alternate take from the anti-drug PSA in Spanish, and a behind-the-scenes look at the Cain brain prop. Rounding out this set is the movie’s theatrical trailer, 2 teaser trailers (one of them a “no smoking” ad), 2 TV spots (one of them an anti-drug ad), a deleted scenes still gallery, a behind-the-scenes still gallery, and a marketing still gallery.
It’s safe to say that, if you’re a fan of RoboCop 2, you need look no further for the ultimate Blu-ray package than this. Scream Factory’s efforts are definitely satisfying. And if you’re someone who’s never seen this film, or hasn’t seen it since it was first released, give it a shot. RoboCop 2 is, for the most part, better than you remembered. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons