Chappie

"Good"

Chappie Review


This is a terrific small film about artificial intelligence wrapped within a much bigger, less involving action blockbuster. When he's grappling with issues of existence and consciousness, filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has a lot of fascinating things to say. But he also seems unable to resist tipping everything into contrived chaos, adding an unconvincing villain and lots of violent gun battles. It's an awkward mix that might please action movie fans more than those who like to engage their brains.

It's set after 2016, when the Johannesburg police deployed a team of Scout robots to bring order to the gang-ruled streets. This has been a bonanza for the tech company Tetravaal, run by hard-nosed CEO Michelle (Sigourney Weaver), who chose the Scout model, designed by the nerdy Deon (Dev Patel), over a more military-style behemoth called Moose, designed by trigger-happy Vincent (Hugh Jackman). Meanwhile, a low-life trio of offbeat, high-energy thugs (Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser and Jose Pablo Cantillo) decide to crack into the Scout's control system, so they kidnap Deon, inadvertently getting their hands on his newest prototype, the first truly sentient robot. When he's switched on, Chappie (Copley) has a sensitive soul and learns rather too quickly from his captors.

With films like District 9 and Elysium, Blomkamp showed an ability to seamlessly integrate technology with a rough and real story, and the effects work here is remarkable mainly because we never see how they're done. The robots look utterly natural mixing with humans, and Copley's performance is so astonishing that Chappie quickly becomes a hugely sympathetic character, uncannily taking on the traits of the people around him. It also helps that the film's script continually puts Chappie into situations that force us to feel his emotions and, most importantly, his powerful sense of self-preservation. Yes, he wants to live!

Sometimes these sequences feel a bit pushy, randomly inserted into the film simply to manipulate the audience. This is also the reason the film needs a bad guy who pushes everyone into an all-out war. As the action scenes get bigger, the characters become less important, because Vincent's nefarious plan is neither clever nor interesting. And all of the shooting very nearly drowns out the much more interesting character-based exploration of what it means to have a soul. Because it's not just this robot who has a right to live: the moronic criminals do too. And that's a much more provocative question, which the film's whopping finale simply doesn't have time to explore.


Chappie Trailer

 



Chappie

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th March 2015

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Media Rights Capital

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chappie, as Deon, Brandon Auret as Hippo, Eugene Khumbanyiwa as King, Anri du Toit as Yolandi Visser, Watkin Tudor Jones as Ninja, as Vincent, as Yankie, Kevin Otto as CNN Reporter, as The Procurement Officer

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