Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman
Release Date: March 6th, 2015
Chappie is a strange film. I’m not referring to its subject matter (which is quirky, look to say the least) but to the way the script’s level of intelligence rises and falls throughout the film’s 120-minute running time.
If you focus too much on the details and some of the character’s decisions (especially the decisions that the robotics designer makes) it’s hard to see the film’s intellectual strength. But if you look at the movie’s ideas, unhealthy it’s hard to deny that strength.
This is, viagra 40mg above all, a film about the future. It may be set in the near future but the plot’s focus on technological advancement makes it feel very contemporary. Because electronic devices are counted on more and more every day, it seems plausible that a city would accept an all-robotic police force. In the film, it’s a South African city that accepts the idea and the CEO of the publicly-traded company that develops them (played by an under-utilized Sigourney Weaver) is all too serve the community.
She wants to make a profit, the city’s political officials want it to be safer, and using an all-robotic police force keeps police officers away from injury. It seems like a solid solution until, of course, there’s a glitch in the system.
To his great credit, director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp doesn’t use the same glitch that other movies have so often utilized. The robots don’t simply go off the grid and start attacking humans. Here, it’s engineering genius Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) who goes off the grid by creating a robot that develops real relationships and beliefs like humans do (much is made of the robot’s childlike impulses when he starts functioning).
Deon is starting to teach his new robot when two thieves (played by musician Yo-landi Visser and the rapper Ninja) kidnap him hoping to shut down the robotic police force. Their plan changes when they discover Deon’s invention– the robot they nickname Chappie and hope to use as their accomplice.
Chappie’s growth and the underlying themes about parenthood (his parental influences change his philosophy of right and wrong) and the dangers of technological advancement are clear here. Instead of obvious pandering to the audiences, the director tries to offer something different by showing the development of Chappie under the tutelage of the thieves who kidnapped him. Some of the “robot uses slang” humor is overdone but as a whole, the comedic idea of a technological wonder surrounded by dimwitted dirt-bags worked for me.
That being said, there are a few character decisions here that make no sense and that undercut the story’s potential. Deon’s character, for one, is supposed to be an incredible genius (and that’s undeniable, considering his work) but he continually makes terrible decisions. He inexplicably starts trusting the thugs who kidnapped him and who are trying to use Chappie for their own purposes. When they let him go but keep Chappie, Deon keeps visiting them as if he doesn’t know what they are capable of. He never even tells the authorities or his boss about the criminals.
It’s here that Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), a military professional who distrusts the robots, comes into play. He wants to destroy Deon’s work to advance his own technological ideas and he discovers Deon’s invention.
There’s a great triangle here of conflicted personalities (the CEO, the technological genius and the military man) but the script (written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell) doesn’t really engage in that debate. The film puts the differing viewpoints out there but never fully develops them. With that wasted potential in mind and the fact that the film goes twenty minutes longer than necessary, it’s definitely hard to love Chappie. I did appreciate its core ideas though, in spite of the characters that kept getting in the way.
Review by: John Hanlon