Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Chappie's Parts Don't Quite Fit Together

Plus, Unfinished Business misfires, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a pleasant trifle, and American Crime is Certified Fresh.

by | March 5, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a conflicted robot (Chappie, starring Sharlto Copley and Dev Patel), traveling businessmen (Unfinished Busines, starring Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco), and spry seniors (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith). What do the critics have to say?



With District 9 and Elysium, director Neill Blomkamp established himself as a purveyor of action-packed sci-fi allegories. But critics say Chappie is a much less successful mix of pulp thrills and deep thoughts; its ideas take a backseat to its overstuffed, occasionally illogical plot. It’s 2016, and Johannesburg is policed by fearsome robots called scouts. Deon (Dev Patel), an artificial intelligence expert gets his hands on a dilapidated scout and tries to give the machine a conscience, but others want to use the bot — now christened Chappie (Sharlto Copley) — as a weapon of rebellion. The pundits say Chappie is ambitious and visually striking, but its message is a little too heavy-handed and its characters aren’t developed enough. (Click through our gallery of the most dangerous robots from movies and TV shows, and watch our video interviews with Copley and co-stars Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver.)

Unfinished Business


Take a ragtag trio, send them to an unfamiliar land, and what have you got? Unfinished Busines, which critics say is a startlingly unfunny and undisciplined comedy that strands its sharp cast in a lackadaisical narrative. Vaughn stars as a small business owner who treks to Berlin with his two underlings (Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson) to close an important deal. But our heroes get sidetracked by a variety of distractions, and hilarity (allegedly) ensues. The pundits say Unfinished Business attempts to combine gross-out gags and farcical scenarios with heartfelt sentiment, and comes up empty on nearly all counts. (Check out Dave Franco’s Five Favorite Films here.)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Like The Avengers for the senior set, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel featured a murderer’s row of super-powered British acting talent. Most of the gang is back for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and critics say that’s the main reason to recommend this predictable trifle — though its gorgeous setting is a close second. This time out, hotel managers Muriel (Maggie Smith) and Kapoor (Dev Patel) are looking to expand the business, while an American novelist (Richard Gere) takes up residence and various other occupants fall in and out of love. The pundits say The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is cinematic comfort food — less substantial than its predecessor, but warm and appetizing nonetheless. (Watch our video interview with Dench here, and check out our countdown of her best-reviewed movies here.)

What’s On TV:

Critics say that raw, emotional portrayals of diverse characters in dire pain mashed up with chilling narratives and a gutsy attitude make American Crime (Certified Fresh at 100 percent) a must-see.

The pundits say season two of Broadchurch (87 percent) builds on its predecessor’s intrigue, with the added bonus of new characters who mesh well with the existing cast.

While stocked with impressive talent, CSI: Cyber (39 percent) fails to add anything truly new to the franchise, settling for a slightly modernized twist on the same typical crimefighting scenarios.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Buzzard, a dark comedy about a slacker who perpetrates a series of low-level cons, is at 95 percent.
  • An Honest Liar, a documentary portrait of magician and skeptic James “The Amazing” Randi, is at 91 percent.
  • Faults, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Leland Orser in a thriller about a troubled man who attempts to deprogram a cult member, is at 87 percent.
  • The Aussie import These Final Hours, a dramedy about a wild party on the eve of the apocalypse, is at 84 percent.
  • Deli Man, a documentary about an innovative delicatessen in Houston, is at 80 percent.
  • Merchants Of Doubt, a documentary about corporate-funded pundits who inject themselves into public debates as dispassionate experts, is at 79 percent.
  • Two Men In Town, starring Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel in a drama about an ex-con who’s hounded by a small-town sheriff, is at 56 percent.
  • Road Hard, starring Adam Carolla as a stand-up comedian attempting to jumpstart both his career and his personal life, is at 33 percent.
  • October Gale, starring Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman in a thriller about a grieving woman and a man with a gunshot wound under siege in a remote cabin, is at 27 percent.
  • Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jim Sturgess in a drama based on the true story of the brazen kidnapping of a brewery heir, is at 21 percent.
  • Rufus, a drama about a lonely teenage vampire looking for love, is at 17 percent.

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