Chappie (4/10)


I am consciousness. I am alive. I am Chappie.


Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings—some good, some bad—and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from any one else: he is a robot.

Title Chappie
Director Neill Blomkamp
Director of Photography Trent Opaloch
Runtime 2 h 00 min
Certification R
Release Date 6 March 2015
Tagline I am consciousness. I am alive. I am Chappie.
IMDb Id tt1823672

There is a lot of promise in this movie on paper – directed by Neill Blomkamp, with Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman on board, it may seem like this movie borrows a bit from movies Robocop or even Short Circuit, but it is trying to be quite a different kind of movie.

Robots as law enforcers are the norm in this world, and when the lead engineer (played by Dev Patel) experiments with adding self-learning Artificial Intelligence to one of these robots, ‘Chappie’ is born. As he is stolen by a group of thugs, he ‘grows up’ (ie his AI learns) in a criminal ‘family’, resulting amongst others in conflicting guidance between his basic programming as a law enforcement robot and his criminally influenced and fast-developing AI.

There are a lot of ideas and concepts at work in this movie, and the real story seems to get lost in it. All characters (including Weaver and Jackman) are completely one-dimensional. The storyline of the competing robots developed by Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel doesn’t get any more detail than necessary to have an obvious but superficial ‘vendetta’ play going on. The thugs (played by South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord) don’t manage to be much more than, well, simple thugs, and really they just get too much screen time.

So many ideas and concepts that could be explored; yet it all just remains a terribly shallow affair. It even gets boring… to the extent that I was tempted to not even finish watching it. But I stuck with it, but that didn’t pay off…

So I am becoming a bit of a sceptic of Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi career. District 9, Elysium, and now Chappie, are all action focused sci-fo movies with real potential and a lot of very interesting concepts going on, but these concepts disappointingly don’t get sufficient depth in any of these movies to take them from mediocre to good (let alone great)…

Next up, Blomkamp and Weaver are taking on an Alien Sequel together. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I am not holding my breath… I really hope they prove me wrong.


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