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Beware the Batman (2013)
New Show, Same Old Story with Fans
It's been the same cycle with every new animated interpretation of Batman since TAS. "I don't like the way it looks!" "The writing's not as good!" "They ruined (insert character's name here)!"
A few years go by, cooler heads prevail, and eventually most seem to come around and appreciate each of these shows for what they are rather than holding them to up to their own preconceived notions of what Batman "should" be.
I get it. You're a "hardcore" Batman fan. You know what it's all about and every little nuance of the mythology. But here's the thing - there is no one true Batman. The character's been around so long and gone through so many permutations that there is no definitive version. There are depictions that strike a chord with certain generations for different reasons, but in the end the Adam West show is a valid as Christopher Nolan's films. Each incarnation highlights and honors different aspects of these characters. That's what's so great about Batman. That's why he's survived as long as he has. He's malleable. As long as you keep the cornerstones of his mythology in place, he's pretty flexible when it comes to adaptations.
This is not TAS. I think we can probably all agree that that's still one of the better representations of Batman and the most successful show overall. But we live in a world of hyperbole so if something's not amazing, that means it must suck. I don't think Beware the Batman is as good as TAS. Not by a long shot. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.
Adjusting to a new look always takes some time, but I've grown to like it. And I think the voice cast is strong. For a show aimed at kids, the writing strikes me as more sophisticated than anything from The Batman - and especially The Brave & The Bold.
I like seeing new villains. I like the detective side of Batman getting more attention. And I like the risks they're taking with characters like Alfred. Borrowing from the Earth One/Sean Connery take definitely sets this apart from previous series. In my opinion, the more traditional take on Alfred makes more sense - but I do admire their decision to do something different.
It's not a perfect show. But I'm interested to see how it evolves. Fans always hate anything new or different. Give it time. When they roll out another new Batman cartoon in a few years, everyone will probably be moaning about the good old days of Beware the Batman.
What a waste...
Let me clarify something right off the bat... I am not a fanboy who rated this thing a 10 and down votes every negative review here. But I'm also not a hater. I enjoyed parts of the original movie when it came out. Sure it gets a little sillier with each subsequent viewing and there's nothing terribly original about it but it had an infectious style and a solid cast.
To be blunt, I can't even believe this sequel is for real. And I'm shocked how many fans of the first film say they enjoy it. For me this was a complete misfire every step of the way. The plot is ludicrous. Not because it's too complicated but because it just defies logic. It is not a compelling story on any level. It's an excuse to get the boys back in their pea coats and shooting guns in slow motion. There isn't a single plot point that's credible or followed through on. The movie keeps changing what it's really about. It doesn't feel like layers in a mystery are being pulled back. It feels like Duffy had no idea what this was really about and just kept letting the script wander. Characters are introduced halfway through with no real purpose or development.
The acting just flat out sucks. And I like a lot of these actors. Aside from Billy Connolly and Peter Fonda no one understands how to be subtle. They all crank it to eleven and turn themselves into cartoons, not characters. I thought the first one did a much better job of balancing the humor, action, and drama. Duffy appears clueless on how to accomplish that this time out. The bad guys aren't remotely threatening and even the returning detectives are made to look like buffoons at every turn.
The action scenes in the first film contain a lot of creative ideas that aren't shot as well as they could have been. They're not terrible, but not mind blowing. This one is just embarrassing. Every action beat consists of slow motion, techno music, and the brothers standing in plain view and not getting hit once (until the end when the script requires them to).
It also just feels smaller and cheaper than the original. The settings in the first one seemed real and dirty. We got a sense of the blue collar life in Boston. This one feels like it was shot on sitcom sets. And with hardly any extras it feels like our main characters and villains are the only people in the city.
I know you're all going to bury this review because you don't agree but there wasn't a single thing I found redeeming about this movie. Bad script, bad acting, bad directing, bad music, bad editing... it's just bad.
Didn't expect to like it
Let me start by saying I'm grading this on a sliding scale. Given that this is a straight to video action flick and the second sequel (fourth if you want to get all nit-picky about it) I thought it was extremely successful with what it set out to do.
Maybe it's the my expectations were so low going into it. I liked the original but I'm nowhere near as fanatical as its die hard supporters. I've forgotten almost everything about "The Return" except that I thought it was the worst possible direction they could steer a potential franchise in. I've never seen the made for cable movies. Lastly, after his impressive turn in JCVD, I admit I thought this was a step backward for Van Damme.
But you know what? This movie is better than it has any right to be. The story is nothing spectacular (falling squarely between the original and "The Return" in terms of quality) but I only have one major gripe with it. I don't mind that they basically ignore the last one where Luc was completely normal again. The approach they take here makes a lot more sense and is much more interesting. The way they set him up as not being able to function on his own and having a doctor trying to reinsert him into society is pretty compelling stuff. And there's some early indications that they're going somewhere with all of it. So I was pretty disappointed when it became clear that once Luc straps his armor on, it's all action till the credits role. No character arc. No pay off for anything that came before. No indication that anything that happened to Luc prior to the climax had any impact on the overall story.
What really doesn't help this problem is Luc's late introduction into the film. We have no clear protagonist for the first third of the movie. No one to really care about or relate to. We're introduced to all the supporting cast and the story certainly moves forward, but there's a lack of clarity to the proceedings because there's no main character that any of this is happening to. Stuff's just happening.
By the time we do catch up with Luc we have minimal time to fill in the details because the clock's ticking and we only have one or two scenes before he inevitably has to be recruited for this mission. Had this story been told from Luc's POV from the get go (after the kidnapping and ransom demands were established) and had they actually given him a more defined character arc we would have an incredibly tragic hero and a film on par with the original. But honestly, after the last one and some of the other DTV action movies I've seen I'm pretty astonished they attempted to give him any character depth at all.
The film's biggest strength is its direction. John Hyams really elevates this material and I'm dying to see what he could do with a bigger budget and more resources at his disposal. He certainly knows how to shoot action. While there is some influence from the Bourne series and even stuff like Children of Men, it's shot and choreographed in a way that's still easy to follow. You always know what's going on. From the opening car chase all the way to the final fight, it's brutal and realistic and totally cohesive for a change.
The performances are also pretty solid. He even got a decent one out of Dolph (and given his recent fare that's no easy task). I'm not sure why the NGU got top billing but he's certainly a more formidable opponent than Goldberg. I've read a lot of reviews complaining that Van Damme & Dolph didn't team up at the end. This didn't bother me on my initial viewing but in retrospect it was a little strange having two "final" fights and not ever having all three of them in the same scene.
It's a dramatic shift in tone from the original but unlike the last sequel they use the low budget creatively and appropriately instead of making it look like it was shot in someone's garage.
You've probably heard people make comparisons of the score to early John Carpenter stuff. That's not totally off base. While it's essentially just a series of drones and tribal drums, it really does work with the film. It's never distracting and the minimalistic approach really does help the desolate and dangerous feel of the movie.
While I still feel the movie had a giant missed opportunity with Luc's character, the fact remains that it's extremely successful at what it set out to do and while it's not going to win any awards it should be an extremely welcome addition to any fan's collection.
Star Trek (2009)
Perfect? No. Necessary? Absolutely.
A lot of Trek fans will be quick to dismiss the alternate time line of this film and the more action oriented approach to a franchise typically more cerebral. And I understand those grievances. It would be tough to feel so connected to forty years worth of material only to have someone who isn't a fan come along and shake it all up. I grew up with TNG. The original cast still had movies coming out in the theaters when I was a kid. I've seen all the movies and every episode of TOS and TNG. I still loved this new Star Trek. And I didn't think I would.
It's been ages since a Trek film had this many scenes that left an emotional impact on me. The pre-credits sequence is one of the best moments in the entire history of this mythology. And the film that follows hits so much more often than it misses.
I had such mixed feelings about re-casting these iconic roles but wow... some of these guys blew me away. For me the stand outs were Chris Pine as Kirk (who has that trademark swagger down to a T but NEVER feels like he's doing a Shatner impression) and Karl Urban as McCoy (who was my favorite part of the film, he just completely embodied the character). Zachary Quinto is more that serviceable as Spock and the only detriment to his performance is putting Leonard Nimoy in the same movie as him. There's just no comparison.
Yes the plot is filled with some major contrivances and conveniences (it's a mad dash to get the crew acquainted & Kirk promoted) but the momentum it builds and the energy is exhumes make it hard not to forgive most of them.
For me the biggest let down was the villain, Nero. I read reviews that talked about a layered performance and I just didn't get that. He seemed to be cut from the same mold as most forgettable Trek villains with a pretty rudimentary back story to boot. He's certainly no Khan or Chang. I think Eric Bana is a wonderful actor, the script just never lets the character become anything more than a plot device. I've heard there's a prequel comic that details his origin a bit better but that shouldn't be required reading to get the most out of the movie. It was the only part of an otherwise exciting film that just fell totally flat. At least for me. I found myself bored every time they cut back to him.
Sure I miss the more philosophical and moral questions the best Trek stories touched on. But I think there's still room for that. The foundation has been laid. The set-up's been taken care of. Now there's an infinite number of possibilities for the Enterprise and her crew. I remain optimistic that future installments will have a mix of the best elements from both takes. I love that they widened the scope and amped up the action. I love that it finally felt dangerous and everything had very tangible consequences. I think that was an important first step. If this cast and these filmmakers are afforded the opportunity to continue I truly believe strong thematic elements will rival the visual ones. And hey, they're already off to a much better start than the original cast was with their first movie.
I'll always have a soft spot for Shatner, Nimoy, Kelly, etc. But I love that it's all still canon. No one said to ignore all of that. This isn't a remake. It's a new series that runs parallel to the Trek we all grew up with. And honestly, I'd take this over what Trek became over the last decade.
It needed a good shake. It's not a perfect movie. But a necessary one. I left the theater today with a smile on my face and the knowledge that Star Trek would live on. The same could not be said just a few years ago.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
I'm no die-hard X-Men fan. I read the comics for awhile when I was a kid, watched the cartoon, and had a basic understanding of the mythology. I thought the first film was good without ever really reaching its full potential, the second was MUCH better, and the third... well, I try not to think about that one actually.
I have nothing against Hugh Jackman in the role. He's an adequate actor and physically a good match for the character (though fanboys would probably argue). But like I said, I'm not a nitpicker when it comes to these characters. I didn't have as much an investment in X-Men as I did other comic books. So while all the popular complaints thrown at the film regarding Deadpool, Gambit, Emma Frost, Cyclops, etc. do irk me a bit they were by no means a deal breaker. All conflicts over film vs. source material aside, this just isn't a well made movie. Period.
After a seemingly irrelevant first scene (seriously... tell me the point. Where was the payoff later?) there's an even more ludicrous opening credits sequence that while fun to look at it carries very little emotional weight. Nothing's at stake. There's no motivation for any of it in play. Do these guys just like blowing stuff up and killing that much? On the surface the changes they made to the Wolverine/Sabretooth relationship make sense. One character embracing his animal instincts and the other fighting them is a cool dynamic. But it's not one that's ever really allowed to play out in a satisfying way. Wolverine never comes close to the edge. There's no moment where we think he might give in and compromise his humanity. There have been traces of that trademark "berzerker rage" smattered throughout these films but they were teases at best. The real Wolverine has yet to show up in a movie. And here was a story begging for him. One free from the baggage of previous installments. They could have done something reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in The Man With No Name trilogy. But no, it's just our usual huggable, soft, family friendly Wolverine. He's less threatening here then he was in the trilogy. At least then he had the mystique of an unknown past. This movie's biggest revelation? The X-Men's "baddest" member is really a bit of a softie.
Stryker's black ops team is brimming with potential but don't get too attached to these guys. Look, I get it. The movie's called Wolverine. There wasn't room to tell all their stories. So why include them at all? Don't show an audience how potentially awesome a Ryan Reynolds Deadpool movie would be and then be surprised when they cry fowl for ditching him five minutes later. Same goes for Gambit. Why keep crowding the story with more mutants when there's barely enough time to flesh out the two we're supposed to care about? The Weapon X scene has a few moments that cause a genuine stir but honestly it was handled so much better in X2. There it seemed dirty and scary and dangerous.
And it just keeps getting worse the more the plot tries to advance itself. Ridiculous double crosses and plot twists ensue and pretty soon we reach an out of left field climax that provides a silly deus ex machina for Wolverine's memory loss and supremely unsatisfying ending for our bad guys.
To be fair, Liev Schreiber does a lot with very little. He seems to be having a lot more fun with his character than anyone else. And while there's still no explanation for how Victor became the caveman Sabretooth was in X1 I really did enjoy his performance. And as I mentioned before, Ryan Reynolds was great even if he was essentially the same character he played in Blade: Trinity. His action scene was also the only one that got a smile out of me. Although the thought of these guys riding up in the elevator on their top secret mission still makes me laugh.
Look, I don't mind the idea of more Origins movies or even another Wolverine movie. As long as they make as much of an effort on the basic premise as they did trying to figure out how to shoe horn a bunch of cameos into this one. The bulk of my disappointment rests squarely on the script.
Iron Man and The Dark Knight showed us we don't have to accept the old "pretty good for a comic book movie" attitude. These can be great films period. Wolverine is not. And there's no excuse for that.
The Happening (2008)
It really IS as terrible as you've heard...
The Sixth Sense was a decent enough movie. Unbreakable is probably the only M. Night film I ever really got into. Beyond that I think this guy is a terrible, terrible filmmaker. And the worse his movies get, the louder his fans seem to think they need to be in their support of him. And for some, it's not enough that they like his movies. They also have to point out that the anyone that doesn't is WRONG.
Well, you know what? It finally feels like a decent chunk of his audience is figuring out what I've known for a long time... this guy is totally overrated. Go ahead. Defend The Happening. You're only embarrassing yourself. Because no true student of cinema or fan of film could ever possibly believe this isn't an unintentionally hilarious disaster of unimaginable proportions.
It's impossible to throw the blame onto one thing in particular but the "acting" is most certainly a large contribution to this sinking ship. Say what you want about Mark Wahlberg but the guy is perfectly capable of giving a great performance. But this is a train wreck. The scene where he asks the house plant if it's okay to use the bathroom is so unspeakably bad you'll swear it's a joke. The skit on SNL where he talks to animals carries more credibility.
And Zooey Deschanel. WHAT HAPPENED???? She's a genuinely talented actress. But it's like she's not even trying. Which simultaneously makes her the worst actor in the film and the smartest person in the cast. John Leguizamo is the only one who manages not to look like a complete fool. The bottom line is all of the performers have been fantastic in other films. I blame the direction. It's always felt like M. Night's striving for something minimalistic or restrained with his actors' performances. Yet somehow it always nosedives into melodrama instead.
The script is ludicrous. A lot of people feel the premise is a strong one. I disagree. But I do feel another filmmaker could have taken the same basic story and done something much stronger and more resonant with it. Plot points aside, the dialouge is flat out horrendous. The very definition of cringe-inducing. Anytime the characters try to slip in exposition it feels clunky and awkward. And the rest of the time they simply tell us exactly what they're thinking or feeling instead of showing us.
There are some nice touches here and there. The model home billboard with the slogan "You Deserve This!" immediately comes to mind. And the scene at the construction site early in the film is pretty grotesque. But the rest of it fails to be remotely frightening, suspenseful, engaging, or insightful. I'm not sure what the goal here was but this is completely disposable work.
Sometimes movies are so bad they're fun. In this case it's just plain bad.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Good, but not great
Here's the thing about comic book heroes. Most of them have silly names and often sillier costumes. But there's something so fundamental and human about the ones that have survived half a century. Spider-Man isn't just some dude swinging around New York. He's a young kid trying to balance so many competing parts of his life and spreading himself too thin. We all know what that's like. With the X-Men it's not just people with cool powers kicking the crap out of each other. It's about being part of a minority and others discriminating against you. Who hasn't had a taste of that? And with the Hulk, it's ultimately anger management. Literally having a monster inside of you and how difficult it is to control it. It's about being at war with yourself. So yes... his name is ridiculous. The idea of a giant green monster is a little out there. But when these movies have enough small character moments peppered in with the action there's a chance to really connect with them and allow yourself to forgive how unrealistic they dare to be because you're so immersed in their universe. The Incredible Hulk is not the best comic book movie ever made. It's not even in the top three. But it's a solid film and it could have been so much worse.
I have fond memories of the old TV show. Back then it was a waiting game until the Hulk showed up. Now it's the hardest part of the show to swallow and I find myself really intrigued by David Banner's plight. I didn't hate the Ang Lee movie but I have no desire to ever revisit it. This new incarnation has elements of both but for the most part does a satisfactory job of establishing itself as something new. The first act was the best part of the film for me. Everything until the battle on the college campus. The introductory scenes of Bruce were really effective and the first Hulk-out was almost legitimately frightening. The later action scenes are bigger in scope but they're never as creative.
Norton's been making headlines for all the wrong reasons lately but there's no denying he's got the goods. I have a feeling there were a lot of character moments left on the cutting room floor but what's left is still an admirable performance. And even though it's an underwritten role, Liv Tyler is a complete sweetheart as Betty. There's such a charming girl-next-door quality to her and even though I don't completely buy her as a scientist I totally believed in the connection she and Bruce shared. I felt like William Hurt and Tim Roth both received pretty thankless roles. They weren't bad by and means but the script (or this cut anyways) never allows them the chance to do much other than beg to fight the Hulk again or scream for more firepower.
The CGI isn't fantastic. That's just a fact. But it only pulled me out of the film a couple of times. And the Hulk looks about a million times better than he did in the last movie. As expected it does take over once the third act hits and for me that stuff just isn't as enthralling. The film never lost me, it just never reached the heights of the opening thirty minutes. Not for me at least. If I were thirteen I probably would have drooled over the last fight scene.
In the pantheon of comic book movies Hulk stands above Fantastic Four and Daredevil but never quite makes it to the top tier of films like Spider-Man 2, X2, Batman Begins, or even Iron Man. It's comfortably in the middle. I don't feel like I wasted my time or money. But I'm not anxiously awaiting a sequel either.
You really could do worse.
Less a story and more of a cut & paste job
I did not walk into this movie wanting to hate it. Far from it. Despite early reviews and rampant skepticism that seemed to plague most fanboys, I was still excited. How could I not be? Like most of you, Indiana Jones was part of the cinematic foundation of my childhood. I was humming the theme all day before I saw it. And listen, I realize we're dealing with twenty years of nostalgia. No current Indy film is going to come out and be able to compete with the memories of the others. But I'm not dealing with just memories. I just watched the first and third film a few days ago and was amazed how well they stood up, how witty they were, how incredible the action was, and how many little things I'd never noticed before. They're not just movies I liked when I was a kid. They're just well made films period.
Crystal Skull starts off interestingly enough. I like how they establish the cultural climate of the 1950's. In fact, the first half of the movie is truly solid. Not perfect. But definitely on par with Last Crusade. And I could have lived with that. I wasn't expecting much more.
It's basically the introduction of Marion and everything that follows that made the film take a complete nose dive for me. My complaints will sound a lot like other peoples and for that you may decide to disregard them completely. That's fine. I don't understand why we have to be so antagonistic with reviews or comments that contradict our own feelings. Or why anyone's opinion is less valid than another's.
You're either going to accept the Area 51/alien angle or you're not. It's that simple. Your overall enjoyment of the movie is going to greatly depend on which camp you fall into. Me, I didn't accept it. Sorry. It's just not my taste. I realize all of the Indy movies have moments where they tread into the fantastical. I'm not upset that it wasn't plausible. How is the end of Raiders any more so? It's just not my cup of tea, that's all. Watching Cate Blanchett make faces at a terribly rendered CGI alien who then turns her into a firework is just a little hard for me to get excited about. I'm sure if I were a little kid I wouldn't have had a problem with it. But I'm not and that's the sad fact. I would have preferred something a little more subtle and ambiguous. Not a climax where Indy stands around and watches things happen rather than taking part in them. And when the giant UFO comes out of the ground the movie just lost me completely. It doesn't make Indy 4 a terrible movie. I'd never say that. It just comes down to your personal taste. For some it may be perfectly suited to the franchise. For me it just didn't feel right. Sue me.
I also couldn't believe how underwhelming a lot of the special effects were. It's impossible to get caught up in the jungle car chase when it's so obvious none of the actors are in any real peril because they're in front of a green screen 80% of the time. It's not that the sword fight or Tarzan moment were too ridiculous. I have no problem with these movies going over the top. It's just that they looked so fake.
No one stages an action sequence like Spielberg and for the most part they don't disappoint. The motorcycle chase, the temple warriors, and the giant ants were all great moments. But the comedy that usually goes hand in hand with all that action was missing. There were a few genuine moments of it. And a lot of attempts at it. But nothing that even comes close to the perfect balance the earlier films exhibited. CGI is killing the action genre. The sequences in the other films were twice as exciting and imaginative without the aid of computers.
The most disappointing aspect of the film though is the script. How can someone as brilliant as Spielberg keep such a tight grip on someone as mediocre as David Koepp? The best moments from the script come from other people's drafts. I recognized at least 70% of the material as being borrowed. The mythology of the skull is tedious to listen to. Especially when it's essentially irrelevant. We're not there to listen to a lecture. We're there to go an adventure with Indy. The film is so talky and gets weighed down in its tendency to over explain everything. And there's zero character development. The Indy/Mutt relationship works well. Especially when it's just the two of them. But the rest of the characters (including Marion) are just set dressing. They're completely thankless roles.
I know it doesn't sound like it, but I didn't hate the movie. I would be all for another Indiana Jones film. Especially if they get an original & cohesive script and not a hodge podge of other people's idea.
I think it's totally okay that other people loved it. I just think it should be okay that not all of us did. Or that it means we're "haters" or that our nostalgia has clouded our judgment. I didn't expect another Raiders. I didn't expect perfection. Just more than this.
The Mist (2007)
A faithful adaptation, but only pretty good
I love the novella this film was based on. It's one of my favorite Stephen King stories. And I was incredibly excited that Darabont was finally able to bring it to the screen. I knew that no matter how great it was I probably wouldn't be able to get into it as much as the original story simply because what your imagination cooks up is always scarier than what a filmmaker can show you.
That being said, The Mist is successful in a lot of ways. There is some genuine suspense, tension, and horror in the film. A lot of the sequences are extremely well crafted and executed. While the acting isn't consistently stellar, there are some standout performances and moments. It follows the story beat for beat until the very end (more on that later) and does a great job translating from page to screen.
My biggest complaint is the quality of the effects. The monsters looked pretty fake most of the time. The incredibly high level of tension that's built up is often released the second we get a good look at one. Most of them look like they were created for a video game.
The novella benefits from the interior monologue that the film obviously couldn't give us. And even though the time frame is accurate, the film moves a lot faster (naturally) which makes it feel less desperate and frightening.
I'd like to talk about the ending so be warned that massive spoilers lay ahead. Skip to the next review if you don't want to know...
Alright... here's the thing... David not being able to go back for his wife in the novella was a stronger narrative choice. Realizing she's probably dead but never getting that closure is heartbreaking. Turning that car around without knowing for sure is just devastating.
And then of course there's the addition of running out of gas and now what do we do. I liked that. I liked that a lot. And I totally buy the decision they make. Some people have said the moment doesn't play out long enough to be believable. I disagree. Think about everything they've already seen and what they've gone through. They know this is a hopeless situation. They can hear their impending doom right outside the windows. The thing is, I don't feel their needed to be time to wrestle with the decision because for them there was no decision. The choice was clear. They were at the end of the road. They went as far as they could and really, what was the other option? They had no way of knowing a solution was right behind them.
That's why I thought the film should have ended a few minutes before it did. After we hear the gunshots and see David in the car with the bodies.
Because when the army shows up it's just a slap in the face. A tacked on addition that robs the previous moment of its power and resonance just to try and be ironic. Instead of feeling like "Well... there's no other way it could have ended" it's like the filmmaker saying "Haha! Look!" So instead of leaving the theater unnerved and trying to wrap your brain around the fact that he had to kill his son, you leave thinking "Oh why didn't he wait just a few more minutes???" and to me that's just not as strong. It's cruel just to be cruel. It didn't feel genuine. It felt like a great big cinematic middle finger to the audience.
The controversy of the ending aside, the film ranks as pretty good and not great for me. I don't regret seeing it but I can't help but feel a little let down and that maybe there was a better movie in there somewhere.
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Before this film's release fans must have been in a whirlwind of excitement. The director of Empire Strikes Back (widely regarded as one of the top sequels ever made) and the writer of The Dark Knight Returns teaming up for RoboCop. At first glance Miller seems like an ideal choice. DKR is brimming with social satire and the news broadcasts that infuse that comic are eerily similar to the Media Break segments in the first film. And maybe Miller was a great choice. We'll never really know since only fragments of his story were worked into the final script.
RoboCop 2 is vastly inferior to the original but it's not the train wreck a lot of people make it out to be either. It's a movie bursting at the seams with wasted potential. They had an interesting subplot with Murphy's widow, a charismatic villain, and OCP stealing the city right from under the Mayor's nose. All interesting subplots that are never given any development or payoff. The film doesn't even really have a coherent story. It darts off in so many directions and ends up feeling like a mish mash of their favorite moments from all the different drafts. OCP refusing to bring RoboCop back online, his eventual re-programming, and even the third act introduction of RoboCop 2... these are all elements slapped together and none of them has a chance to evolve or resonate.
Kershner is a competent filmmaker. Some of the scenes are incredibly well done: RoboCop's dismantling, Cain's assault on his former gang and the mayor, the last moment between Robo and the kid... but I'm not sure he was a great choice. 95% of the film takes place in daylight and everything seems so bright, shiny, and unthreatening. It looks like the film was made for a fraction of the cost of the original but that's not the case. How can the production value seem so low? Where did the money go? Robo's absent for a twenty minute stretch of time. Lewis & Reed are barely cameos. The Old Man is suddenly a vicious antagonist. The cops inexplicably end their strike and risk their lives to help Robo get revenge. But one of the biggest offenses is the score. Not only did Basil Poledouris not return, but none of his themes were used either. His RoboCop theme is iconic. This is like Superman without John Williams. The music is too hokey and chipper and the end credits overture borders on ridiculous (a choir chants "RoboCop!").
Perhaps the flaws wouldn't seem as glaring if there wasn't the amazing first film to compare this to. It's certainly not one of the worst movies I've ever seen. And it's certainly not as bad as the next sequel. But it ain't the original. Not by a long shot.