TL;DR – This is in many respects a flawed film, but I could not help but love it.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Chappie is a film with a lot of faults and I know it is a film that a lot of people dislike, but I just can’t help but like it. The basic premise of the film is that in an attempt to reduce the crime rate in Johannesburg the police purchased a fleet of policing robots ‘scouts’ from an American company Tetravall. However, the robots programmer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) has discovered something more, true AI before everything goes pear shaped.
For me the most compelling aspect of this film is Chappie (Sharlto Cantillo), his is the story of someone who had the potential to be literally anything but circumstances arise where is raised by some truly terrible people. As such there are a lot of really interesting issue raised by this film, the automation of our lives, the damage caused by the violence of hyper-masculinity, what it is to be human, what it is to be a parent. There is some truly magnificent work, both on the part of the actor (Cantillo) and on the part of the animators that really bring Chappie to life. Also, there is a really interesting art style and colour palette used in a number of the sets.
But I must say not everything in the film works, Sigourney Weaver while not bad is truly underutilised as Tetravall’s chief Michel Bradley, you could have had any other actress in that role given how generic it was, I mean you got Sigourney Weaver in your film use her. I am pretty sure Hugh Jackman was trying to play Vincent Moore (a competing robot designer) as someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, but it just does not work, instead what we get is someone who moves even further along from a stereotype into the realm of caricature. Ninja and Yo-landi who are a Zef rap-rave crew play the characters Ninja and Yo-landi. Look they’re not bad, and in fact they threw themselves into the role but they’re inexperience shows in places which wouldn’t be a major problem if not for the fact that most of the film rests on them. Also, I just get the feeling that Neill Blomkamp really excels at showing the unpleasant side of Johannesburg but I’m not sure if this truly is a fair representation.
In the end, this is a morality tale and if you don’t like them, then you are probably not going to like this film, but you will get an interesting story, and of course you will get to see robots fighting each other so there is also that.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed By – Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay by – Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
Based on – Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp
Starring – Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, Ninja, Yo-landi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo and Brandon Auret
Rating – Australia: MA 15+; Canada: 14A; Ireland: 15A; NZ: R13; UK: 15; USA: R