Rated 3.0

Given the tendency of technological advances to accelerate over time, the visual effects of Neill Blomkamp (District 9; Elysium) will someday look old-fashioned and ridiculous. Until then, I can't help but be a little dazzled by his films, and a little charmed by his pompous ineptitude—he's a Michael Bay who really, really believes he's a Stanley Kubrick. Blomkamp muse Sharlto Copley provides the motion-capture performance and voice of the titular robot, a South African police android installed with artificial intelligence. Reborn as the childlike Chappie, he is forced to choose between the moral teachings of his creator and the questionable influence of his “parents,” a couple of slimy criminals. Think Short Circuit meets Robocop meets American History X meets 58 other things. It's a scrap heap of undeveloped ideas and conflicting tones and Hugh Jackman mini-mullets, but I was never bored. Insulted, confused, embarrassed, sure … but not bored. D.B.