Hard Copy: Robocop: The Definitive History Review

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!” When I first saw Robocop iDSCN1417n 1987 I was completely blown away. Considering the amount of violence, it is a fitting statement. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Paul Verhoeven classic it tells the story of a Detroit police officer who becomes a law enforcement cyborg. Set in the near future, in a Detroit that is crime ridden and bankrupt, Robocop was ahead of its time. Now Titan books has published Robocop: The Definitive History giving great insight to this classic science fiction movie.


Written by Calum Waddell this 240 page hardcover is definite must for any fan of the Robocop franchise. The book is broken up into 5 chapters, covering the celluloid life of the cyborg hero. The first chapter covers the first Robocop movie with great behind the scenes photos of star Peter Weller as the title character.

In this chapter you also can see the evolution of the armor and other essential props such as the Detroit Police cars and the ED-209. The first 80 pages of the book are devoted to this masterpiece which made me a Paul Verhoeven fan from the first frame. As I looked at the photos I could hear Basil Poledouris’ score playing in my head.


The next chapter is devoted to Robocop 2 the film was directed by Irvin Kershner with a script by comic book legend Frank Miller. This film, in my opinion, did not live up to the standards of the first movie. There were some high points but this is not one that I would re-watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I will admit that this movie had some amazing stop motion animation with some great special effects for the time period.


This chapter is filled with storyboards and stills from the movie. There really isn’t a lot of behind the scenes photos like there were in chapter 1 had but there is still a ton of information about the making of the movie. I do like that there are quotes from the actors, such as Tom Noonan, who plays the villain, Cain. Much like the movie itself, this chapter on Robocop 2 gave us something to look at but not a lot of substance.


Appropriately chapter 3 is about the third movie in the series, Robocop 3. All I can think of when I think of Robocop 3 is “Jet-Pack Robo.” Yes our cyborg hero does utilize a jet pack but it is not like he flew around the entire movie spouting catchphrases. Sadly the jet pack is all I remember about this one.

This third chapter gives us some storyboards and production shots but again it is mostly stills from the movie. One of the things I did notice is that you can see the evolution of Nancy Allen’s (Officer Anne Lewis) hairstyle from chapter to chapter. In the first movie Verhoeven wanted her to have very short hair to “desexualize” her and by the third movie her hair is long and worn in a ponytail.



Chapter four is devoted to Robocop’s small screen adventures. The live action series ran for one season, from 1994-1995. This short lived series, in my opinion lacked the budget and the star to make is successful. Also mentioned in this chapter is the made for Syfy movie, Robocop: Prime Directives which is set 10 years after the original movie. This chapter lacks any production or behind the scene shots, with Prime Directives having only 1 photo.


Also mentioned is the 40 episode animated series, Robocop: Alpha Commando which ran from 1998-1999. Prior to this animated show there was also was an animated series that had a 12 episode run back in 1988 which doesn’t get a mention. This series did open up the toy market for Robocop since at the time companies didn’t usually make toys from “R” rated movies. This section of the book also touches on Robocop’s appearances in comic books and in video games.

My favorite part of this chapter has to be the brief section on Robocop merchandise. Although there has been so much more Robo related items released over the years this book does not go too in depth for the merchandise. There is a mention of the Robocop statue that is supposed to be erected in Detroit but sadly that hasn’t happened yet.


The fifth and final chapter is devoted to the Robocop remake of 2014. This section does have a fair amount of behind the scenes information including showing the evolution of the new Robocop armor and the new ED-209. This sleeker, more maneuverable Robocop is definitely a product of his time period. Though this chapter is insightful and full of information the Robocop reboot left me wanting more.


Robocop: The Definitive History is published by Titan books and retails for 34.95. The book would make a nice addition to your library if you are a fan of the Robocop franchise. Casual fans and movie buffs will enjoy the look behind the scenes of the groundbreaking original. Now if someone can just get Titan Books to publish a Definitive Guide to Starship Troopers I can die happy.

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