By 1993, Robocop had turned from a Christ allegory with a vicious blood streak to a bonafide kids’ mascot who was appearing on lunch boxes and Saturday morning cartoons. Thus was the weird period of the eighties and nineties where even folks like Conan, Rambo, Chuck Norris, and heck, even Freddy Krueger became kiddie fodder. The official final go around for Robocop is a tame and pretty dull 1993 film that director Fred Dekker is saddled with, that takes Robocop in to more family friendly territory right down to having a spunky child sidekick. Not much has happened for Robocop and Detroit since the first two films, as the city is still very much under the death grip of crime, while OCP still controls every going on. Dekker has a lot of catching up to do and sadly doesn’t deliver much in the way of a great sequel, as “Robocop 3” essentially repeats a lot of the same beats from the first two films.
Irvin Kershner has a knack for taking original films and amplifying what makes them work initially. With “RoboCop 2,” Kershner takes the RoboCop mythology to new heights creating a film that’s significantly more memorable than the original and arguably better. That’s a controversial statement for sure but when a lot of fans think of RoboCop, they think about the RoboCop 2 unit which becomes something of a parallel to Alex Murphy. Where in Alex is still grasping with bits and pieces of his humanity and consciousness, our villain Cain fully embraces the technological shell he is transplanted in and begins to wreak absolute havoc.
Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” is the natural successor to “Blade Runner,” it’s an anime masterpiece that works both as an action film and a very evocative and thought provoking science fiction thriller. Through very engaging characters and still incredibly stunning visuals, “Ghost in the Shell” approaches themes like the idea of consciousness and existence, and what living is, and how it’s fairly impossible to prove what sentience is or isn’t. In 2029, law enforcement has been enhanced to the point where human beings can transport their consciousness and memories in to cybernetic shells that grant them amazing abilities used to keep law and order.
I wish Mattel would stop forcing Max Steel on the unsuspecting American public. After many years, the company insists on introducing this action figure line in its new forms, and it’s exhausting to say the least. Back in 2000, Mattel re-introduced Max Steel in a very entertaining CGI cartoon with the main character as a cybernetic spy–because CGI and spies were big in the early aughts. When trends shifted, Mattel re-re-introduced the character in 2013 in to a younger character and in the mold of a pseudo-Iron Man since Iron Man has changed how movie studios approach science fiction now. After that failed, Mattel has given us Max Steel once again, and turned him in to a cybernetic superhero with an enigmatic past. This Max Steel is an amalgam of Guyver, Iron Man, and Star Kid, and is an infinitely grating, and ugly kids film.
A small group of rebels sets off to go retrieve the plans to the Death Star after receiving a communication that seems to indicate that they will be the downfall of the Empire in this sequel/prequel/side story to the Star Wars prequels/original trilogy. Touted as the first standalone Star Wars, Rogue One is heavily entrenched in the Star Wars lore and fills in gaps and what could have been considered plot holes in the past. The story here is easily to follow for people who may have never seen a Star Wars film, but it feels like a story built for the fans of the franchise. The story feels like a Star Wars one and the characters feel like they belong in the universe with many cameos and full presences by some very familiar faces and names. This leads the story to feel familiar and yet the changes, the connections that could have been or the additions or who knows make it feel like something is missing to the story. Rogue One is a hard one for this review to fully embrace while wanting to, which is an odd place to find one’s fan brain in.
While I wasn’t keen on Disney and Lucasfilm approaching the prequel so quick in to the rebooting of the series, “Rogue One” really serves us one of the most important chapters in the fall of the Empire beautifully. While “Rogue One” certainly isn’t a perfect film, it sure is a fantastic action adventure that attempts to break the mold. Gareth Edwards transforms his tale of the stealing of the plans of the Death Star in to a last stand mission in the vein of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Inglorious Basterds.” Though director Edwards offers up the usual nods to “Episode IV: A New Hope,” thankfully “Rogue One” also manages to stand firmly on its own. It’s a compelling tale of the rebellion, and pure evil trying to maintain its strangle hold on the galaxy.
“Metalstorm” is another one of the Not Brand X movies from the eighties where fans of “Mad Max” were treated to a long list of movies that desperately emulated its formula and aesthetic. If you survey most of the late seventies and eighties, you could probably build a whole sub-genre of post-apocalyptic movies that emulate “Mad Max” and “Escape from New York.” There’s a whole library from various studios who aimed to capture the same success and pop culture momentum as the aforementioned. “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn” is by no means a bad movie. It is a hokey but fun movie, though. It has all the hallmarks with films of this ilk including a desert wasteland, a hot rod driving “road warrior,” and his blonde babe.
The way critics savaged “Ratchet & Clank” in 2016, you’d swear we were given an animated move in the same league of “Norm of the North” or “Doogal.” Instead, we get a funny and entertaining science fiction adventure that doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but manages to be a fun animated movie nevertheless. I have never played the video games “Ratchet & Clank” is based on, but I know enough to understand the basic concept and premise. “Ratchet & Clank” is a eye catching and very good action film that touches on all bases and delivers one very interesting underdog tale about a potential hero trying to prove his worth. Director Kevin Munroe stages a prequel to the games that widens the universe of Ratchet and Clank and genuinely attempts to add another dimension to the titular duo for the sake of their fans.