Neil Blomkamp's career has, so far, been a lot like Tim Burton's, except played out over just three films rather than three decades. Both begin life as blockbuster auteurs offering idiosyncratic spins on old traditions: Burton presents a suburbia-infused take on the macabre, Blomkamp re-vamps sci-fi with a junkyard style. But, in both cases, their greatest strength quickly becomes their fatal weakness as they entrench themselves so rigidly in the style that worked first time round. Burton's was a slow decline from the likes of Edward Scissorhands down to recent flops like Dark Shadows, while Blomkamp blew everyone away with District 9 but followed it up with two exercises in deja vu and diminishing returns.
Chappie ticks over perfectly well and Chappie himself is an impressive creation, even if his child-like newcomer shtick has been old since E.T. It's simply watchable, never becoming either entirely offputting or genuinely entertaining.