Where Did the Patrol Go Wrong?

The tendency of the entertainment industry to try and turn everything into a franchise sometimes has strange results. Take, for instance, the example of RoboCop, where Paul Verhoeven’s original movie is generally regarded as a classic but where various efforts to create follow-ups and spin-offs have been at best incongruous, at worst just plain bad. There was the inevitable attempt to create a family-friendly kid’s Saturday morning cartoon out of it, for instance, because for some reason in the 1980s studio executives thought that making tie-in cartoons for small children based on films they weren’t allowed to see was a good ideas, and there was also the live action TV show which was watchable but entirely forgettable cyberpunk time-filler.

The 2014 remake came and went without gleaning much acclaim, and it seems like the rights holders have come to agree with the general sentiment that a lot of the stuff that’s been made since the original isn’t up to much. Not that they’re being sensible enough to just let it die, mind – they’re just working on a new movie which will be a direct sequel to the original film and treat everything else as non-canon.

Where did it all go wrong? Let’s look at the original movie trilogy and see if we can work it out.


The first film is, at its very simplest, a superhero origin story, and like all the classic superhero origin stories it’s so archetypal that I really don’t need to spend much energy summarising it here. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is a cop in Detroit in an edgy cyberpunk future. The privatised police force’s contract is held by Omni Consumer Products (OCP), which is researching robotic alternatives to conventional flesh-and-blood police. When the ED-209 project of corporate vice president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) suffers a few setbacks, the up and coming executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) proposes stepping up his own RoboCop project. Blah blah, Murphy gets mortally wounded at the hands of Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang, he gets cyborged up, the memory wipe doesn’t work 100% and he sets out to recover his memories and avenge his death with the help of his former partner on the force Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen).

Continue reading “Where Did the Patrol Go Wrong?”

The “300” Movie Is Fascist Filth

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Most of you will already be aware of the premise of 300, the film having been pretty heavily promoted. To recap: Xerxes, ruler of the Persian Empire, wants to conquer Greece, and Leonidas, king of Sparta, isn’t cool with that. Unable to muster the entire Spartan army, he leads 300 men to Thermopylae, and there manage to hold off the massed hordes of Asia for three days, buying enough time for the rest of Greece to muster its forces and win the day. Hooray for Sparta!

Now, I don’t actually mind that they gloss over the fact that the Athenians were responsible for winning the final battle against Xerxes when they sank his fleet, having abandoned their entire city so they could go and prepare an ambush. Similarly, I don’t mind that Sparta is portrayed as being more democratic and nice than it was – Julian (whose Ferretbrain review of the film has doubtless already has been published, or is about to be published) pointed out that at no point did we see any of the slave-caste that the Spartans hunted for sport, for example. This was a movie, after all, not a history lesson, and it would have been difficult to engage a modern audience if the Spartans hadn’t been made acceptable in some respects to a modern audience.

Continue reading “The “300” Movie Is Fascist Filth”