Robocop – Limited Edition (1987) (Blu-ray film review).

The future is here and the company OCP is running Detroit as a business. After the disaster of ED-209 executing a board member at a demonstration from Senior President Dick Jones (actor Ronnie Cox) as a glitch, Robert Morton (actor Miguel Ferrer) gets the go ahead from the chairman/Old Man (actor Dan O’Hergty) to prepare the Robocop program.

All it needs is a near dead cop and that happens on a regular basis. Police officers newly moved and Alex J. Murphy (actor Peter Weller) is teamed up with Ann Lewis (actress Nancy Allen) and are alone stopping a robbery led by Clarence Boddicker (actor Kurtwood Smith) and his gang and Murphy is killed. He is resurrected as the cyborg Robocop with the belief that his memory is wiped. He makes a difference to the crime on the streets on his first night out.

However, after a dream, Robocop begins to regain his memories, helped along by Lewis as he pieces his human life together and goes after his killers.

Morton discovers that Boddicker is in cahoots with Jones and has him killed. All who refuse to surrender ends up dead. Boddicker is placed in custody and Robocop goes after Jones but finds a classified Directive 4 prevents him arresting senior OCP staff and is nearly put down by ED-209 before facing armed cops. Severely damaged, he is rescued by Lewis. Jones orders Boddicker to finish off Robocop because his memory is admissible court evidence.

Meanwhile, Lewis is helping Robocop repair himself. Oh and the cops are on strike and Boddicker’s gang are heavily armed. The rest is a street war although confined to a steel factory for the most part.

The early footage is a bit dark but doesn’t look like it’s been filtered to match blu-ray resolution. See the third audio commentary for the reason for that or keep reading below. The blend of commercials and social media was way ahead of its time, even back then. Even so, when you realise this is all pre-CGI and much of it is mechanical effects with a spot of animation from Phil Tippett and Robocop design by Rob Bottin, it is still a classy film. Don’t get fired.

There are 3 commentaries so do what I did and space them out a bit. The first is with director Paul Verhoeven, producer John Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier was originally recorded for the 2001 theatrical cut and then re-edited in 2014 to conform to the Director’s Cut and is also on the second disk. Some normal reality references are obviously going to be dated even now. Dallas and Pittsburgh posed for Detroit. Hard to believe it was made for just over $10 million. It was also Verhoeven’s first special effects movie. The TV show in the background was called ‘Not My Problem’ although the title never made it onto the screen. It took 11 hours to get Peter Weller to get into the Robocop suit the first time and less than a couple hours later.

The second audio commentary is with writer Paul M. Sammon who worked on all three ‘Robocop’ films for Orion as a Marketing Executive at the time as well as making the ‘Making Of Robocop’, although that isn’t included here. He explains how the film was a reaction to other violent films. The initials of ED-209 stand for Enforcement Droid and producer Jon Davison was its voice. I know there is a lot of emphasis of the slow introduction of Robocop, everyone who saw the poster knew what he looked like.

Sammon doesn’t get the non-romance aspect of Lewis and Murphy though. I’m surprised he never wrote a book on this film, especially as he spends so many ways identifying what genre the film should be in and Verhoeven’s Christ metaphors. Well and truly, the basic plot could be applied to anyone.

The third audio commentary is Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen into trivia in the film. I’ll note things of interest or deserve comment. Ah, the TV clips look grainy because they were recorded on video. Do not adjust your blu-ray settings. All police officers are named after murderers so who are Murphy and Lewis named after?

‘The Future Of Law Enforcement Creating Robocop’ is a newly filmed interview with co-writer Mike Miner running at nearly 17 minutes and how he and Ed Neumeier mixing their ideas produced the script. Under director Paul Verhoeven and its fifth draft, ‘Robocop’ was made. Miner points out that that it was Rob Bottin who suggested that Robocop was shown in small bits before being seen completely.

‘RoboTalk’ is a new conversation with co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke and Nicholas McCarthy running at just over half an hour and we get more about his background. He got some experience on ‘Blade Runner’ by working on the set and influenced his own ideas without knowing what it was. The discussion on biblical subtext wasn’t something I spotted before. There is some Judge Dredd influence.

‘Truth Of Character With Nancy Allen’ is a new 18 minute interview with the actress who actually read the script and made a connection. They almost ran with someone else but went back to her and she had a ball doing the film. I love the way she rolled off the names of the people who trained her. It’s also a lesson in acting.

‘Casting Old Detroit With Julie Selzer’ is newly filmed 8 minutes as the casting director was assembled. She makes a valid point that turning the film from ‘B’ to ‘A’ that you needed nice actors for a violent film and cast against type.

‘Connecting The Shots With Mark Goldblatt’ is newly filmed 11 minutes giving insight into being a second unit director on the film. It’s interesting hearing him discussing the film ‘Legend’ and the major differences between the European and American versions. As a film editor he knew what close-ups he needed and Verhoeven let him loose on them.

‘Analog With Peter Kuran And Kevin Kutchaver’ focuses on their photographic effects for 13 minutes. As they discover it, their hob is to come up with solutions to problems, Both worked together making films as youngsters and were geeks. Kuran worked for ILM on ‘Star Wars’. Their work on ‘Robocop’ was mostly the robo-vision and text.

‘More Man Than Machine Composing Robocop’ is a tribute to musical composer Basil Poledouris (1945-2006) for 12 minutes. Seeing the list of films he worked on shows his versaility.

‘RoboProps is a new feature with French fan Julien Durmoth showing off over 13 minutes his original props to protect the archive and who is expert on it as well. The original armour wasn’t silver but a car green paint. Remember how film lights things differently and he has the proof. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be indulgent but ended up being the most informative Having watched the film several times now, I can see the glean better.

‘2012 Q&A With The Filmmakers’, basically 42 minutes with director Paul Verhoeven, actors Peter Weller and Nancy Allen, co-writers Michael Miner & Ed Neumeier and co-producer Phil Tippett being interviewed. Much of this you need to see for yourself. Much of it is consistent to information you already know, even off this blu-ray. I do think all director’s wives need to read the scripts before giving them to their husbands. Peter Weller gives some insight into the training he had to act as Robocop and what was going to be more serpentine movements were changed to match the suit.

‘Robocop: Creating A Legend’ running at is a 21 minute 2007 interview with Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller and others on the subject of making the armour suit work. I can see people using the info here to alter the Beretta pistol to the Robocop version. Oddly, Rob Bottin isn’t there and they are all talking about his work. In fact that is the only missing piece here, as it would have been interesting to have his insight.

‘Villains Of Old Detroit’ is the cast discussing the villainy from 2007 that went on for 17 minutes. Most telling is Kurtwood Smith and a telling lesson in how much the actors contribute to the scenes.

‘Special Effects: Then And Now’ running at 18 minutes from 2007 has them explaining just that. This is a real demonstration of movie magic. All too often you take things as what they are on screen, even pre-CGI, not knowing what is real or fake. You’ll come away from this wanting to make an ED-209. Shame there is no model kit around at the moment although a lot of models. All that they did then could now be done in CGI.

‘Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg’ is where to find the director in the film and you’ll never guess where.

‘Deleted Scenes’ is actually 5 of them actually runs for about 3 minutes. The most telling is Morton giving a press conference and Lewis laid up in hospital. With the former, the announcement to have a Robocop on every street corner is going to mean a lot of dead police officers.

‘The Boardroom: Storyboard With Phil Tippett Commentary’ is just that. Made in 2001, 6 minutes of showing how the stop-animation was made.

‘Director’s Cut Production Footage’ is 11½ minutes of footage of the boardroom action, Murphy’s demise and then Boddicker’s death.

Should I miss out the 2 ‘Trailers’, the first of which uses ‘The Terminator’ music but couldn’t tell with the second. There are 3 ‘TV Spots’, the first set’s the reality time at 1991. None of them use the film music.

The ‘Image Gallery’ has 109 Production Stills, 84 Behind The Scenes and 56 Poster & Video Art.

Then we have a second blu-ray with the theatrical cut. With so much content, I’ve spread everything over a couple weeks. As much as I love this material, even I had to accept the inevitable that I was getting punch-drunk if I didn’t. I did wonder how many other reviewers were going to cover everything in as much detail.

If I’m going to complete this to a deadline. The audio commentary appears to be the same as the first one so I’ll focus on the theatrical version, running at 103 minutes there isn’t much difference. Seeing it so many times, I’m ending up asking questions. Like Frederickson, would all the police officers off-duty attended Murphy’s funeral after his first day? Lewis mentions that there was a funeral but there is no mention of how long has passed although it looks like a 3 month frame, so why hasn’t Lewis got a new working partner?

It took a little while to figure out the purpose of this second disk. Essentially, you can modify to the version you want to watch, with different versions of the music and even an adjustment to the TV version. Please bear in mind I’m looking at an advance copy and relying on an advance sheet.

Hard to believe that the original ‘Robocop’ is 33 years old and I was ducking to avoid being shot by ED-209. The film holds up remarkably well, even with multiple viewings although I’m glad I spaced them out. Anyone got a dollar?

GF Willmetts

December 2019

(region 0 blu-ray: pub: MVDVisual. 2 blu-ray disks 2 versions of the film and extreme extras. Price: $49.95 (US), £24.99 (UK) ASIN: B07X385BSV)  From the looks of things Arrow Video is releasing the same edition over here.

cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronnie Cox, Dan O’Hergty, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer and Felton Perry

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