The more fiendish dolls possessed by spirits of crazed killers change, the more they remain the same. Old Chucky has been demolished a couple of times already, but he still looks the same: like a Cabbage Patch Kid whose plastic surgery didn't quite work out. Personalitywise, he is still the sort of fast-and-loose doll Barbie's parents have always dreaded she would end up with.
Since Brad Dourif is still providing Chucky's voice by doing a modified Jack Nicholson imitation, he sounds the same too.
This film does offer a little fresh meat—along with the standard run of horror carnage wrought by Chucky in his quest to secure a human body to park his mean spirit in. The boy whose traumatizing toy Chucky became in the 1988 original has now grown up and turned into a 16-year-old, played by Whalin. He has been sent to a military academy after flunking out of a series of foster homes.
The military-academy subplot is a welcome distraction from Chucky's routine bloodletting. It comes complete with hopeless misfits, bullying cadet officers (Travis Fine is impressively tyrannical) and even a love interest for Whalin in the form of a female fellow cadet, Perrey Reeves.
Otherwise, first-time director Jack Bender and writer Don Mancini don't add much to the by now not-so-novel novelty of the effects that turn Chucky from a harmless hunk of plastic into a malicious (and stupidly foulmouthed) little demon.
If he isn't as scary as he used to be, that's the monster biz for you. It's a what-have-you-done-to-us-lately world out there, Chuckster. (R)