Chapped by ‘Chappie’

Chapped by ‘Chappie’

[Ed. – No, tell us what you really think.]

It’s not just that “Chappie” is a mishmash of familiar ingredients whose story quickly slides off the rails into a swamp of action-movie clichés, or another misbegotten project from the Land of Intriguing Premises. It doesn’t have an intriguing premise in the first place. It’s cluttered, goofy and incoherent from beginning to end, and much too long. (Can we agree to hate the rule that science-fiction movies must run at least two full hours?) It gives me no pleasure to say this, but this movie is very often really, really stupid. Its attempts at comedy are embarrassingly weak and its attempts at sentimental humanism are insulting. “TRON: Legacy” was a better movie, with a purer spirit. “Jupiter Ascending” was much better. “John Carter,” the $300 million disaster that shook Disney to its foundations, looks like a masterpiece of imaginative cinema compared to “Chappie.” (Yes, I know: The problem with “John Carter” was not the movie itself but the commercial expectations.)

You almost can’t compare “Chappie” with Pixar’s “WALL-E” (directed by Andrew Stanton, the would-be Kubrick whose career was then incinerated by “John Carter”), which touches on similar themes but is a vastly more sophisticated, adventurous and, yes, grown-up motion picture. … It’s not the worst movie of the year, just a boring and inconsequential one that will soon be forgotten, and will add a second flat tire to a once-promising career.

It’s not like [director Neill] Blomkamp has forgotten how to direct action scenes or lost his feeling for atmosphere. It’s just that the subjective, ground-level action choreography he pioneered in “District 9” has now become ubiquitous – and that his feeling for atmosphere still seems to be defined by “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” … “Chappie” is a leaden and labored slog, the work of a guy who had one really good idea and used it up, and is now desperately trying to rediscover the magic. It mashes up several obvious science-fiction plots and scenarios, including “Frankenstein,” “RoboCop” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” with some other borrowings that aren’t as obvious. Blomkamp and Tatchell have heavily ripped off the story of “Oliver Twist,” as implausible as that may sound…

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