Movie Review: Chappie suggests that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp could use a hard reset

Fashionably grim futures. Visceral firefights in war-torn ghettoes. High concepts that devolve into low spectacle. There’s no mistaking the handiwork of South African “visionary” Neill Blomkamp, who builds films that are distinctly his own—heavy-handed in their metaphoric messages, fetishistic in their deployment of military hardware—from the scraps and spare parts of ones that are not. But if anonymity is the enemy of artistry, is there also such a thing as being too much yourself? Blomkamp, an action junkie careening clumsily through the arena of cerebral sci-fi, should sue himself for plagiarism. His latest, Chappie, was originally described as a change-of-pace “comedy thing” for the writer-director. Perhaps the word Blomkamp was actually searching for was “self-parody.” Like Elysium, this rusty A.I. story is basically just District 9 with a new coat of paint; it’s distinguished only by the jabbering, irritating personality of its title character.

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