While Dev Patel’s characters in both of the current, competing releases, Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, aren’t exactly the central focus of these respective movies they are critical in energizing the two plots which deal respectively with: (1) the challenges faced by humanity when true sentient consciousness emerges in a computer-driven robot and (2) romantic relations of various sorts emerging in the midst of business negotiations of various other sorts in Jaipur, India.
In Chappie the chief day jobs are either making a robotic police force to keep order in crime-ridden 2016 Johannesburg, South Africa or being one of those programmed-to-take-action machines, which our title character was until it (he?) was damaged on the job, stolen from within the manufacturing corporation by the engineer played by Patel so that he could implant a full version of artificial intelligence into this robot, then turned into a pawn within the city’s criminal world as a small-time gang attempts to use Chappie as their means of raising the enormous sum required as repayment by a much bigger-time gangster. There’s plenty of action here for those who don’t care for their sci-fi stories to be too cerebral but there are also important considerations about what constitutes intelligence in any sort of being as well as how we humans intend to contend with the increasingly-sophisticated forms of technology that we’re so intent on creating.
There’s not much to contemplate in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, except possibly why there needed to be a sequel to the first one—pleasant enough in its own right but hardly demanding of another helping—except for the monetary rewards the studio hoped to reap from once again visiting India to chronicle the exploits, business-based and/or romantically-driven, of a group of British ex-patriots now in residence in Jaipur where the young owner of their dwelling (Patel again) is too focused on acquiring a second hotel property to properly pay attention to his upcoming wedding, creating all sorts of complications for his life. Narrative overkill holds back the ultimate potential of this story, although there are some touching moments to be found about the eternal call of romance for both the young and old.
More details on both of these Patel vehicles (with the former providing a better overall ride than the latter) can be found in my detailed review. Comments are welcome here, there, or sent directly to me at email@example.com.
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