What’s advertised as an action film is actually a somewhat soppy sentimental story. Future Johannesburg is patrolled by a force of mechanized police that have restored order to the crime-ridden streets. A trio of criminals ends up with a rogue robot that’s been programmed with consciousness, giving it a child’s innocent mindset. Instead of cool fights, there’s lots of rash dialogue, hurried activity and numerous efforts to create an endearing creature out of Chappie. The South African duo from Die Antwoord, who have major roles, are raw and unusual looking, but not especially strong as actors. There are fallacies in the logic that border on ridiculous and only one good final battle (with yet another machine). Still, director Neill Blomkamp manages to keep it interesting and the creation of the robot itself is pretty compelling.
GAY ANGLE: Does that “off in the sunset” ending mean that Chappie is gay?
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker (screenplay)
Stars: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy
The gang’s all back with less comedy and more romance. Dev Patel’s charming innocent has turned neurotic, but almost all of the rest, including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Billy Nighy and whippersnapper Richard Gere, are bound for amorous entanglements. There’s a big wedding that adds some festivity, but otherwise it’s a parade of predictable interactions. It’s slower and less charming than the original with storylines that aren’t as original.
GAY ANGLE: No gays this time, but one gay reference.
Jerry Williams reviewed movies for WTVR-TV for 14 years and for Style Weekly for 10 years. When he launched his own website in 1998 at TVJerry.com, he took his reviews to the Internet. Through those hundreds of reviews, Jerry kept his sexual orientation muted. So, he's excited to be adding "gay angles" to his postings for GayRVA.com.