Chappie was once a police droid (unit 22), working the mean streets of Johannesburg, until his creator, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), decides to update his software and install consciousness v1.0. Which is great. A machine that thinks and feels is always a juicy idea for a movie in my opinion. And hopefully something that leads to a mature conversation about the value of life, no matter what form it takes.
Unfortunately, Chappie takes on these lofty themes with all the maturity of a loud obnoxious teenager, raised on a diet of crappy rap videos. Clearly favoring stupid scenes of the titular droid learning how to be a bling wearing gangsta, than talk about what it means to be sentient. Or properly explore the nature nurture elements hinted at in the script. In that respect, Chappie was an incredibly frustrating movie going experience. As it clearly aspired to be more than just a mindless robot flick, but never seriously committed to any of its larger themes.
The movie also doesn’t make a lot of sense, and if you know anything about currently available technology, you’ll find yourself questioning everything you see on the screen. For example, this movie is set during a time on Earth when the PlayStation 4 is still a ‘thing.’ But somehow super sophisticated gun-toting police robots are possible, and a person’s consciousness can be stored on a thumb drive. Huh? I don’t think so!
That’s not all. As well as totally missing the opportunity to explore and express the value of intelligent life, the movie also wastes too much time exploring a pointless subplot involving a competing law enforcement droid, created by a ‘mulleted’ Hugh Jackman. Which is basically a ripoff of Robocop’s plot, and the ED209 machine.
Poorly conceived, and poorly developed. Chappie is a great premise buried beneath a loud soundtrack, bad acting, worse dialog, and an alarming number of weird hairdos! It wastes the talents of Dav Patel, Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman, and doesn’t set up an authentic world for this story to take place in. Director Neill Blomkamp landed with a bang back in 2009 with the truly awesome District 9. But has since not been able to show us that he can consistently develop truly innovative science fiction stories. Which has me worried about the currently untitled Alien franchise project he’s set to release in 2017.
This is loud, crass and violent. The visual effects are very good, but you’ll have to go into this with your expectations set to ‘low’. This movie is rated R for language, violence and brief nudity.
The visuals are very decent, so a big screen is going to give you the best experience with this film. At home a HD screening on a nice big TV is recommended. Watching this on a portable screen will not help this film at all – and believe me, it needs as much help as it can get!
Best Moment: << mild spoiler >>
Chappie is convinced by his adopted criminal family that a collection of expensive cars are actually stolen, and he is tasked with getting them back. This results in a fun section in the movie as the robot violently pulls people from their cars while loudly berating them for being bad people.