Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Rapid Reviews: Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Visionary filmmaker Neill Blomkamp captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with his thought-provoking 2009 sci-fi masterpiece, District 9. His follow-up effort, Elysium, was far less impressive, but the feature still managed to push the envelope thanks to Blomkamp's original ideas. Now in theaters is the director's third film, Chappie, which happens to be yet another bold science-centric adventure.
Clearly a modern re-imagining of the 80s classic, Short Circuit, Dev Patel stars as a computer programmer who figures out how to maximize artificial intelligence and give machines the unique ability to think and feel like humans. Completely aware that he's onto something revolutionary, the programmer goes against his superior's wishes and uploads the software to a robot that's destined for the scrap heap. However, unfortunate circumstances place the super-advanced robot, Chappie, in the possession of a group of thugs intending to use him for crime.
For as clever and cerebral as Chappie is, the feature's remarkable themes and hidden potential aren't explored nearly enough. Instead, Blomkamp glosses over these immense possibilities in exchange for a highly action-packed story that gives an overabundance of screen time to Hugh Jackman's unnecessary character. As a result, all of the beauty and mystique surrounding Chappie falls victim to gun fire, explosions and futuristic mayhem that adds no depth to the story whatsoever. Chappie culminates as a mediocre film that squanders some exceptional potential.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4
In 2011 director John Madden debuted a very profitable little indie dramedy called, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The charming little story followed a collection of aging goof balls who venture to India in hopes of a luxurious retirement. Instead, their greeted by a rambunctious and young entrepreneur named Sonny (Dev Patel), who slowly turns a not-so dreamy hotel into an iconic residence for the elderly.
Four years later and Madden returns with a slightly unexpected sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny and his main confidant, Muriel (Maggie Smith), desire to expand their blossoming product all while a slick old friend named Kushal puts a damper in Sonny's wedding planning. It's a nice treat to see the old cast reunited, however the second go-around doesn't quite match its predecessor.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel attempts to get by on more of the same charm it demonstrated in the first installment, however weaker storylines and an over-extended cast generate a mounted running time that doesn't flow so smooth this time through. While the original certainly had a bit of hokiness to it, the sequel drowns itself in fairy-tale sentiment that ultimately runs its course. There are definitely a fair amount of laughs to ease the audience from start to finish, but cliche subplots reign supreme in this unnecessary follow-up from John Madded.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4