Director Neill Blomkamp goes back to the single-city, small-scale sci-fi of District 9, but keeps the super-sized ambition of Elysium in this story of a busted police droid who becomes the world's first sentient robot, thanks to nerd God Dev Patel. The result is frequently messy to the point of being ludicrous, as if Blomkamp can't be asked to fret over mechanics and tone on the way to taking on the Big Issues of family, religion, morality, mortality, and naturally, the essence of humanity. (He certainly didn't spend too much time getting his cast to act.) But dang if he doesn't leave it all up there on the screen as Chappie goes through his super-accelerated sentient robot childhood. It may be too sloppy and indulgent to actually call good, but that still leaves room for words like heartfelt, trippy, personal, and even admirable. With Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, and a fellow named Ninja. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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