October 29, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

A depressing inertia seems to worm its way into second sequels,and ROBOCOP 3 (PG-13) is about as deadly a case of the third-chapterblues as I’ve encountered since Poltergeist III. (You have to be amovie critic to spend your time making these sorts of comparisons.)RoboCop, the bullet-headed mechano-man, is now played by Robert JohnBurke, doing a brilliant impression of Peter Weller’s square jaw.Scorned by Detroit’s fascist rulers, he is adopted by a ragtag rebelunderground, and a mangy, charmless bunch of bad actors they are.The script appears to have been Scotch-taped together from half adozen discarded ideas, and the production is so threadbare that noone has bothered to make 21st-century Detroit look even vaguelyfuturistic. Whether the scenes are set in catacomb sewers or trashedalleyways, the entire film seems to be taking place in the same badlylit urban nowhere. The original RoboCop (1987) was a molten hunk ofnihilistic pop satire, set in a corporate megalopolis that no longerpretended to please its citizens. RoboCop 3 is the sort of desperatenon-entertainment you’d expect to see playing in a movie theaterthere. D-

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