Recycled Chappie Belongs in 'Scrap Heap'
Critics bash Neill Blomkamp's robot flick as copycat, failure
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2015 11:44 AM CST

(Newser) – Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, and Hugh Jackman star in Chappie, a film about a former police robot that develops the ability to think and feel and becomes the face of a revolution. According to critics, it's all a little too familiar. Here's what they're saying:

  • "Chappie, the robot, gets smart. Chappie, the movie, stays very, very dumb," writes Chris Klimek at NPR. He argues the movie steals its plot from last year's RoboCop remake and 1986's Short Circuit, and it's "a disappointing copy." Jackman gets stuck in "a one-note role" while "sporting the worst haircut of his career." But at least Patel, along with Ninja and Yolandi Visser of rap duo Die Antwoord, manage to "rise above the lame material."
  • The film's robots "have been created with more attention to detail than the story," writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. Ninja and Visser bring "cartoon charisma," but director Neill Blomkamp's allusions to other movies "feel like the handiwork of someone who's eager to make something cool and so borrows with promiscuous abandon." Overall, though, he "holds your attention."

  • Peter Howell, too, notices similarities between Chappie and earlier films. "Blomkamp bolts together used and stolen parts ... and the lamentable result is far from riveting," he writes at the Toronto Star. "The guy should be running a recycling center," he adds, calling the film "a thudding failure" that's missing "a social conscience." Chappie's voice, "a whiny, scratchy tone that drills into the skull almost as painfully as Hans Zimmer’s overbearing score," doesn't help matters.
  • "I haven't been as happy to see a movie end since the third Transformers," writes Lou Lumenick in a scathing review at the New York Post. Little of the film "makes much sense, even in a sci-fi fantasy context." The film is "populated by unlikable, one-note characters," including Chappie, who "is apparently meant to be charming and funny, but he really isn't either." This movie "should have stayed on the scrap heap."