Released by: Shout! Factory
Released on: March 21st, 2017.
Director: Fred Dekker
Cast: Robert John Burke, Nancy Allen, Mario Machado, Remy Ryan, Rip Torn, John Castle, C.C.H. Pounder
Year: 1993 Purchase From Amazon
Sadly, Peter Weller didn't resume the title role for this third film in the series, which once again finds OCP meddling with their idea of destroying old Detroit and replacing it with Delta City. Unfortunately for OCP, the many denizens of Detroit don't like the idea of having to give up their homes and, oddly enough, they seem to resent the idea of being bought out by a faceless corporation.
When this problem starts to become a serious thorn in their side, OCP's CEO (Rip Torn) conspires with the CEO of Japan's Kanemitsu Corporation (Mako). They buy off a merciless gang of soldiers for hire, led by Paul McDaggett (John Castle), to drive the populace out so that they can tear down the old city. When an underground rebellion, led by Bertha (C.C.H. Pounder) starts up to stop OCP, RoboCop (now played by Robert John Burke) is called in and as he and his human side begin wrestle he is forced to figure out where his allegiance lies.
Fred Decker, who had previously directed the excellent Night Of The Creeps (and of course, Monster Squad!) turns in the weakest of the series. To his credit, there are some interesting ideas in the film and it is hard to carry on the franchise when you don't have Peter Weller in the suit (Robert John Burke was great in Richard Stanley's Dust Devil but really, he brings very little to this picture). It's nice to see Nancy Allen return as Murphy's partner Anne Lewis, while fun supporting work from the likes of C.C. Pounder, Rip Torn and (courtesy of some archival footage) Kurtwood Smith and even Make are all moderately amusing.
The production values are okay. The action scenes are well staged. The sets are good. There was a decent amount of money put into this, it would seem. Unfortunately, this PG rated film has most of the over the top carnage that made the first two films so much fun washed out of it in a much kid friendlier manner. Maybe the producers hoped that by toning down the film they could get a younger (and therefore larger) audience into theaters, but sadly it worked against them and the weakest of the three films from an entertainment-oriented perspective was also the weakest of the three films at the box office. By this point in time, the RoboCop franchise had been turned into a toy line, a comic book series and even an animated Saturday morning cartoon show. To expect the series to return to its R-rated greatness might have been a pipe dream, but this picture has no bite whatsoever. By the time that they've introduced a twelve year old computer hacker prodigy into the script (an obvious attempt at playing towards the intended younger demographic), it's clear that any intent to create something interesting out of Frank Miller's original story was pushed aside in an effort to see more Robocop branded merchandise.
Why not just give RoboCop a jetpack and be done with it? Oh wait, they did that too.
Shout Factory presents RoboCop 3 on Blu-ray on a 50GB disc that presents the movie in 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Robocop 2 was advertised as featuring a new scan from an interpositive, RoboCop 3 was not. This looks eerily like it was taken from the same same source for the transfer that was included in the MGM trilogy set a few years ago (though the encoding is a bit different) and while that transfer was fine, the six Robocop 3 fans that are out there probably wanted to see some improvements here. Regardless, detail is alright and colors look good. There aren't any problems to note, really. It looks fine - but it doesn't look as good as Robocop 2 did.
English language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound. The stereo track is the more authentic of the two, it sounds stronger and a bit more distinct but the 5.1 mix is fun during the action scenes where the rear channels open up the soundstage a bit more. Both tracks sound clean and clear and are free of any hiss or distortion. Optional English subtitles are provided.
Extras are surprisingly plentiful for this release, starting off with an audio commentary with director Fred Dekker moderated by Michael Felsher. This is actually quite an interesting track as Dekker doesn't necessarily mix words when it comes to his take on this production. He's also pretty forthcoming about what he feels works and what he knows doesn't work, collaborating with Frank Miller on the script. Interesting stuff. A second commentary once again brings the people behind the RoboDoc: The Creation Of RoboCop documentary - Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen - back behind the mic for another examination of the movie. Like the track that they did for Robocop 2 this is well paced and quite informative, offering up lots of observations about the film's merits and talk of its production history.
From there we move on to a thirty-eight minute featurette entitled Delta City Shuffle: The Making Of RoboCop 3 that is made up of new interviews with director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen and Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark. While Dekker covers some of the same ground here that he does in the commentary, getting the other participants on board gives this plenty of merit. Again, the participants, especially Dekker, are pretty honest about what went wrong here proving once again that sometimes bad movies have far more interesting histories than good ones.
Also on hand are a few shorter featurettes, starting with Robo-Vision: The FX Of RoboCop 3, which interviews SFX techs Peter Kuran, Phil Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry. There's some talk here of the suit, the more action intensive set pieces and some of the other gadgetry that was conjured up for the film. In The Corporate Ladder we get an eleven minute interview with actor Felton Perry who talks about landing the part, his thoughts on the film and the character that he played in in. Training Otomo is an eight minute interview with actor Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki about what was involved in getting the Otomo character to be able to do what he does on screen and make it look cool, while in War Machine we get a nine minute long interview with RoboCop gun fabricator James Belohovek where he speaks about creating some of the weaponry that our hero shows off in the picture.
Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, a still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection. The disc also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover art and a nifty cardboard slipcover.
The Final Word:
RoboCop 3 is a pretty huge step down in quality from the first two pictures, but hats off to Shout! Factory for rolling out a genuinely packed special edition for it anyway. The extras here are extensive and interesting - if you're a fan of the film, this is the version to get simply because it documents the film's convoluted history so well.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!