Synopsis – In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
My Take – There are certain films which under perform at the BO & are ripped apart by critics as well, but does that mean the film is bad? Well no! This seems to be the case behind director Neill Blomkamp’s latest project. Set in futuristic South Africa, this film seems like the same chip of the block as his previous stunner District 9 & the disappointing Elysium. If you like Neill Blomkamp’s directing and style you are sure to love this movie! Set in the near future, where the high crime rate in Johannesburg, South Africa calls for the acquisition of a series of armor-plated, artificially intelligent, humanoid robots that serve as the town’s indestructible police force. The robots cannot be hacked and are trained to shoot, arrest, and detain law-breaking citizens. The robot’s designer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), a young and successful engineer, is detested by another engineer by the name of Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), who’s own plan for a robotic police force under the name of “MOOSE” failed when Deon’s robots were brought into the market, due to the enormous size and scope of his own creation. Deon is now working on creating a robot that has a consciousness and can think and feel like a real human being.
One day, Deon is kidnapped by a group of gangsters, Ninja (Ninja), Yolandi (Yolandi Visser), and Yankie (Jose Pablo Cantillo), who want the fictional “remote” for Deon’s robots in order to shut down the robotic police force. When Deon informs them no such device exists, he gives them the prototype of the robot he’s working on, equipped with a sound consciousness and human feelings. The gangsters agree to have Deon make infrequent trips back to their lair so he can train the robot, but the ultimate goal for the thieves is to use the robot to assist in heists and petty crime. The robot is named “Chappie,” and due to it actually having the ability to think and feel, it needs to be taught like a child the very basics of life. The film shows the four attempting to train the robot and the constant game of tug of war Deon plays with the three goons, which keeps pulling Chappie back and forth between a life of good and morality and a life of violence and destruction. Now with three films under his belt not only establishing his affinity for science-fiction but his love for dystopian worlds , director Neill Blomkamp has affirmed with “District 9” and now with this one he has assured us that he can make a science-fiction film with commentary, humor, entertainment, and, most surprisingly of all, a soul. When was the last time we rooted for a robot instead of humans? (Yea I don’t think we root for the Transformers exactly). Blomkamp offers a real emotional core to the film’s characters and character relationships, particularly that of Deon and Chappie. The two form such a strong, sensitive relationship with one another, despite being burdened by such a colossal danger with gang involvement, that the two carry out one of the most tender portrayals of a human’s friendship with a humanoid that was seen long ago in the under rated animated flick Iron Giant. The idea of a robot who was originally programmed for serious community work with no sentient purposes seems to follow the trail left behind by past robot-based films like ‘Wall-E,’ ‘I, Robot,’ and notably 80s comedy ‘Short Circuit.’ Blomkamp film regular, Sharlto Copley certainly delivered such an amazing motion-capture performance as the innocent, yet gifted robot Chappie. Hugh Jackman didn’t disappoint.
His usual character of hardy muscle man fits quite perfectly to the soldier side of Vincent, even though the engineer side didn’t really appear in him. and Sigourney Weaver is likeable in a minor appearance. Dev Patel at 1st seemed like a miscast, but eventually evolves into his own. Ninja, Yolandi Visser & Jose Pablo Cantillo are likeable. Yes! It has its own set of flaws, well which film doesn’t? Many complain that the accents weren’t up to scratch and, kind of annoying; but what they didn’t realize was that that was what made the character (Chappie). It set him apart from the rest of the world. People also didn’t like Hugh Jackman’s character, but I found he was still an engaging character, even though he might seem generic at a glance. Frankly in my opinion, the movie was brilliant, definitely much better than Elysium. Niell managed to involve all the action, drama, comic relief and special effects, but still managed to keep an interesting story and interesting characters with exquisite Blomkamp flare. The film may seem like a hot mess of a film, throwing together silly comedy with grotesque violence, action, suspense, and futuristic drama, but if this is a hot mess it an example of how other disastrous cinematic hot messes should be done. Being that the film revolves around training a robot how to live, survive, and learn the basics of existence, it’s only logical that a film about the sorts be filled with so many different genres, and writer/director Blomkamp (along with co-writer Terri Tatchell) handle almost everything effectively. On the whole, ‘Chappie’ is a funny, entertaining, and surprisingly sentimental movie, while most of the criticisms are targeted towards the one- dimensional characters and illogical character choices are up to some point valid, but Chappie’s character, the CGI, the humor, and the overall aesthetic of the movie more than make up for these shortcomings. Must watch!
Director – Neill Blomkamp
Rated – R
Run Time – 120 minutes