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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Chappie & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to the cinema--or, as it's more rightly called this weekend, "The Dev Patel Film Festival"--for a pair of unlikely bedfellows: Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First on the agenda, Neill Blomkamp's latest, Chappie.

In the not-too-distant future, human police in Johannesburg have been replaced by a robot force. A young programmer poaches a decommissioned police droid and creates the world's first true A.I.
Chappie is no District 9, however hard it might be trying. With that out of the way, it's not the disaster some early notices would have you believe, either.

Starting with the positives: The robot looks great...beautiful motion capture work, with natural movements that should be the envy of those ridiculous Apes movies. Sharlto Copley turns in a fantastic performance as Chappie, completely sympathetic even when he's behaving like the world's most annoying toddler. The story is entertaining, even though it's never too hard to guess what's coming. As a "message" movie, it's a bit ham-handed, but as an A.I. movie, it's waaaaaaay better than Transcendence. (Talk about backhanded praise!) Dev Patel is his usual wide-eyed, earnest self, perfect for a role like this, and Sigourney Weaver...well...especially when it comes to sci-fi, I guess having Sigourney Weaver is always better than NOT having Sigourney Weaver, and at least she hasn't been saddled with a random weird accent (lookin' at you, Jodie Foster!). Hans Zimmer provides a fantastic score, and the interspersed Die Antwoord tunes are ideally suited to the movie's harsh, ugly landscape.

On the negative side, I have to start with Hugh Jackman. Yes, THAT Hugh Jackman, arguably one of the world's most gifted all-around performers. Can we actually be meant to take him seriously here, a silly one-note baddie, stomping about in a mullet and goofy shorts, shooting the camera his best Snidely Whiplash looks?

Did he really read this script and think it was a good idea? I can't imagine. The movie throws a ton of screen time at Die Antwoord's Ninja and Yo-Landi, relying heavily on viewers finding the two super cool and awesome. In fact, they are anything but...unless you're a 14-year-old boy who is endlessly amused by vulgar t-shirts and tattoos of tiny men with giant penises, then, hey, they're super cool and awesome. In fact, all the characters are essentially caricatures of what they're meant to be, and the movie would have done well to dial everyone back a tick. Finally, though the movie never lost my attention, there's no denying the story is predictable and derivative, with a terribly contrived finish that left me rolling my eyes.

Chappie clocks in at 120 minutes and is rated R for "violence, language, and brief nudity."

It's got more problems than a calculus textbook, but I still kinda liked it. Of a possible nine Weasleys,
Chappie gets five.

Next up was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

(Or, "The further adventures of Heaven's Waiting Room.")

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a fantastic film, sweet and sincere, with more feels than the average teenager's Tumblr.

Did it need a sequel? Of course not.

Did it do well enough for everyone to know it was getting a sequel? Well, hey, when this whole group is still kicking three years later, you gotta take it as a sign, eh? There's nothing I can say about the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that you don't already know, whether or not you've seen it. The movie features more wisdom from Mrs. Donnelly, more adorableness from Mr. Ainslie, more cougaring from Mrs. Hardcastle, and more well-intentioned shenanigans from Sonny. The age jokes never get old (see what I did there?), and the beautiful colors of India make it a joy to watch. If we're being honest, of course, you could take all that away and still there'd be no going wrong with this cast; they are the most perfectly perfect bunch of perfect to ever grace the silver screen. Special perfection marks to Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy; minus her deadpan delivery and his lovable awkwardness, the movie would definitely be missing its most special pieces.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel runs 122 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some language and suggestive comments."

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming, funny, moving film, and, if it never takes a turn you didn't expect, maybe you never wanted it to, anyway. Of a possible nine Weasleys, the

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gets seven.

Until next time...

I may look harmless, but I'm taking over your cinema!!

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