Low on budget, and meaning

March 6, 2015 7:42 AM

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Low on budget, and meaning

Here's a job Neill Blomkamp will never have: making ads for the South African tourism industry. In the director's 2009 feature debut, District 9, Johannesburg is a place of barbed-wire shantytowns, sooty skies, violent divides between classes and races (and an alien race). After turning Los Angeles into a similarly dystopian hellhole in 2013's Elysium, Blomkamp is back on his old stomping grounds in Chappie, a not-very-futuristic (it's 2016) shoot-'em-up about a robot police force, artificial intelligence, and the jams big movie stars find themselves in when they value a paycheck over a script.

Those stars are Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver. The former, wearing a dorky haircut and a look of nutty menace, plays an engineer whose designs for a human-controlled robot enforcer - the Moose - have been passed over for a more nimble troop of computer-driven machines named Scouts. He is disgrun...

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