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Robocop Trilogy (1987/1990/1992) Print E-mail
Friday, 22 October 2010
ImageThe "Robocop" Trilogy wasn't given a glorious announcement.  It wasn't until it showed up in the mail that I even knew it was being released.  Surprisingly it is available at retails stores for less than $30.  What other trilogy boxset on Blu-ray can be had for that price?

The first film has already been released on Blu-ray.  To read the solo Blu-ray review click here .

The first film was directed by Paul Verhoven, who is better known for his works "Total Recall,"  “Showgirls ” and "Basic Instinct."  The first film gives us the premise that will be expanded in the second and third films.  "Robocop" takes place in Motor City (Detroit) and is rooted in the economic turmoil of the city.  OCP is a corporation that has taken control of the city's police force, privatizing law enforcement.

Robocop is a police officer that was gunned down by a team of criminals early in the film.  In order to save his life and put the corporation's plans into action, OCP uses the living tissue from officer Murphy to create a cybernetic supercop.  Unfortunately for OCP, along with the living tissue, comes Murphy's memories, making him vulnerable to emotions.

OCP's hope is that Robocop will end crime in the city and make way for Delta City, the city of the future.  Unfortunately, corruption in the corporation leads Murphy to hunt down and kill/arrest those responsible for his killers, leading all the way to the top of OCP's executives.

"Robocop 2" continues Murphy's story.  Peter Weller continues as the not quite so indestructible cyborg cop.  In the second film Murphy is determined to track down the makers of a lethal and addictive new drug called Nuke.  Everyone on the streets is using Nuke, as crime seems to have taken over the streets despite Robocop's presence.
OCP has come back strong after their disaster in the first film and has plans in motion to continue to building of Delta City.  They have created a new Robocop, aptly named Robocop 2.  The mayor of the city tries his best to raise money to keep OCP from foreclosing on the city.  He even attempts to join forces with the drug criminals of the city.  Meanwhile OCP's investment in Robocop 2 leads to a drug addict and criminal leader to be chosen as the subject to inhabit Robocop 2.  Not a good choice if you ask me.

In "Robocop 3," Peter Weller is replaced by Robert Burke.  OCP is still determined to build Delta City.  They have created an elite taskforce to handle the removal of citizens from their homes.  Using the media, as is their way, they try to convince the public that the taskforce is in their best interest.  Of course, as the audience we know this not to be true.  Robocop begins his investigation and discovers the evil behind the taskforce.  Unfortunately, he is damaged in a shootout and takes refuge with the refugees.

OCP has been taken over by a Japanese corporation.  Unhappy with the progress of Delta City, the Japanese company sends their own Robocop creation to dispatch of OCP's original Robocop.  The third film is filled with traders and shootouts.

Ultimately, all three "Robocop" films are anticlimactic.  They are a mark of the time, but they do not stand the test of time very well.  If the late 80s and early 90s was a prime era of film watching for you then you will feel nostalgia when viewing this trilogy.  However, those seeing it for the first probably will not understand the obsession we all had with the heavy-footed, massive gun-toting supercop.

The films are wishy-washy, but the video transfers improved from start to finish.  It is amazing what a difference of five years can do for a film’s appearance.  Of course the budget was also probably higher on the sequels than the original.  So, the first film is a repackage of the standalone Blu-ray release.  The image is washed out, with black levels remaining unresolved and swallowing details in the shadows.  Colors are stable but a bit drained.  Film grain is apparent and lacks refinement so it swallows the textures of the image.  The second and third films are much improved.  Black levels still remain on the gray side of the scale.  Shadow delineation improves, but can’t seem to ever be fully resolved in the darkest sequences.  Robocop’s uniform retains its textures and details in the final of the three films.  Colors improve substantially, coming across more vibrant then in the first film.  Grain becomes nicely refined in the last film as well, which helps bring out the textures of the costumes and sets.  The better video quality of the second two films is likely due to slightly less aging, a bigger budget and most importantly, the fact that they were given 50GB discs versus the first film’s 25GB disc.

As to be expected the sound quality improves with each film just like the video quality.  Each film has a DTS-HD Master Audio track in 5.1.  The first film lacks any real surround movement, being that its source is Dolby Stereo.  The track lacks in the upper frequencies, causing a very muddy-sounding mid-frequency soundtrack.  Robocop’s footsteps are robotic and exactly, and I mean exactly the same with every step in every location.  LFE use is minimal, likely just a bit for the footsteps.  Gunfire and explosions lack depth and punch.  Beginning with the second and film and continuing into the third, the dynamic range greatly improves.  Sounds get louder without distortion and clarity improves greatly.  I should point out that dialogue is clear throughout all three films, but it is certainly better in the final two installments.  Robocop’s footsteps remain bombastic and carbon copies of each other.  Given the source sound design, these audio tracks are probably the best they will ever sound.

The “Robocop Trilogy” comes with zero bonus materials.  Perhaps that is why the price is much lower than most trilogies.  Each disc comes with an Extras tab and some theatrical trailers.  Quite a big disappointment, especially for those fans who have been waiting for this trilogy.  Ultimately, more care could have been given to this trilogy in terms of film restoration and certainly special features.

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