Generally, Robocop is considered to be a great film whilst Robocop 2 is written off as a dumb, popcorn blockbuster sequel. It is criticised for losing the human element of Murphy that the first film worked so hard to develop and for being over the top, big and dumb.
I would ask you to reconsider. Within the opening scenes you see Robocop express tenderness towards a baby and, upon being shot in the face by Hob, draw comparisons between this boy and his own son. You then see him struggling with the fact that his wife is still out there. Clearly the human aspect of Murphy is not being neglected and is a key focus. You then see this crushed by OCP as Murphy is forced to say he is a machine and to deny, to his wife’s face, that he is her husband. You can see and hear the utter distress and defeat. He spent the first film releasing and embracing the human within him only to have it crushed.
The plot then progresses with Murphy going about his job and not focusing on his humanity. That is until he is torn apart by Cain and the notion of him suffering is explored. OCP then reprogramme him, treating him like a machine set to follow commands. You can see him slowly being driven to insanity as his mind fights against the machine and, as soon as he learns how to free himself of his directives, of his inhumanity, he does it.
The police, with Robocop, then take on Cain and the movie focuses on action, with Cain becoming Robocop 2 and Murphy taking him out. When Lewis expresses disappointment at the fact OCP will get away with everything Murphy states ‘We’re only human’. Bringing the film to a close by Murphy disregarding OCP and fully embracing his own humanity and his sense of self.
So that's the humanity criticism dealt with now it's time for the ‘big, dumb sequel criticism’.
OCP experiment, creating a couple of new Robocops only for them to end in disaster (read: death). They then explain the uniqueness of the Murphy case, the fact the he possessed deeper qualities that their candidates did not, that he was essentially unique and special. He was more than just a cop. Likewise the first Robocop movie was more than just a Sci-Fi movie, it was elevated to greatness by its hidden qualities, it's critique of American capitalism, the exploration of the concept of the American Jesus and the relationship between the organic and the synthetic elements of life. It was special and cannot be recreated.
So OCP cheat, they get a big dumb robot and slap an evil but addicted mind into it in the hopes they can recreate and potentially surpass their original work. Much like the way Hollywood insists on countless sequels and remakes, often bringing in old ideas but with new teams and methods in the hopes of recreating something special. See? Take the movie as a metaphor for itself, a sequel, then all of a sudden it's not so dumb.
And this big, dumb sequel of theirs? Well the original tears it's brain out. Literally.The simple fact is if you are prepared to look at the original Robocop movie in a deep sense then you have to apply this thought to its sequel. What you're left with is a film that pales in comparison to the original but that explores that very inevitability. They are both great films it's just that the first one was special in a way no sequel could ever be.