Movie Review: Chappie

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Stars: Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, Yo-landi Visser, Ninja, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver

Rated R for violence, language, and brief nudity, 120 minutes, Action/Drama/Sci-fi

Compare to: Short Circuit (1986), District 9 (2009)

It’s been a while since a review and I consider it all Hollywood’s fault. Save for Kingsman, nothing has come out this year that really felt like a reason to even bother watching and writing about and I still didn’t do it. And even if Chappie turned out to be horrible, the set up, cast, and writer/director Neill Blomkamp made it intriguing enough to check it out.

Whether or not it’s worth it really does depend on what you’re looking for. A “Lucy” take on robotics? A more violent Short Circuit? However you would define it, Chappie is a spectacle that isn’t easy to look away from. The same could be said for the Transformers movies but this has got a little more substance to it, even if it is all a bit hard to swallow.Deon is responsible for the modern day police force; fully functioning robocops that even look somewhat human. But his secret project is to give one of them consciousness so that it doesn’t need to be programmed but can think for itself. Things are difficult enough for Deon but the introduction of gangsters Yankie, Ninja, and Yolandi (Played by real life rappers Ninja and Yo-landi) make things all the more complicated when they want to use “Chappie” for their own criminal purposes.

Protecting "Mommy."

Protecting “Mommy.”

Neill Blomkamp’s world is a fickle one. On one hand, he wants to give us a Sci-fi drama where even nonhuman characters get their due and the audience can sympathize with whatever plight they may face. But at the same time Blomkamp can’t get out of his head that explosions, screams, and firefights would just fit really well throughout the film, sporadically. While I can’t exactly put my finger on it, the narrative of the film felt choppy and it was as though I got to know some characters really well without ever caring what happened to them because of it.

Chappie himself (played by Sharlto Copley, Blomkamp’s go-to actor) is a technical marvel as you can imagine and is well integrated in his own film. As commonplace as this may be these days, to have CGI characters interacting with real ones, not every film has pulled this off as seamlessly. At times Chappie felt more human than his costars, Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser of the rap duo Die Antwoord. And thanks to their bizarre appearance, the humans in the cast fit less into their respective settings than the robot does.

Really though, the issue with Chappie is that you end up just watching. Just watching and nothing else. At no point did I feel emotionally involved with anybody and I was more just wanting to see what would happen. There are good and bad qualities to this, with the good being that I was never bored with what was on screen.

The bad being that once again, I never cared about anybody. Hugh Jackman is a jerk, Nina and Yolandi are kind of funny but they’re terrible people, Deon is just a nerd that scrambles throughout the story doing nerdy things. Chappie is the most enjoyable to watch but with the childlike mentality he has throughout the entire film, I kept expecting him to, I don’t know, do more. It was like seeing the baby stomp around Vegas in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid only nobody is trying to shrink the baby back down.

Then again, once he finally did do more, we’re given an ending that makes you mentally throw your hands up to say “Sure, why not?” Keeping us entertained is great, but keeping the viewers at arm’s length thematically gives you a take it or leave it feel.

NINJA;Jose Pablo Cantillo

Watching a robot grow into a d-bag isn’t as touching as one might think.

 

Positives: Great acting, action, entertainment value is pretty high, Chappie always makes you wonder what’s going to happen next.

Negatives: A lot of details are left out which create an onscreen world with no repercussions leaves you wanting. Everybody, including Chappie, could die and it would be fine.

Grade: C+

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2 Responses to “Movie Review: Chappie”

  1. Skinny Pete Says:

    I like the director but I’ve just never really wanted to see this movie

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