Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writers: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman
Synopsis: In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
District 9 and Elysium Director Neil Blomkamp presents his next sci-fi film Chappie which follows suit with previous films but fails to live up to the hype. While from a cinematography stance, the film exhibits moments of cinematic brilliance, it fails to find its footing in plot, acting, and character development.
When I say the film fails to find its footing, that is probably the best way to describe the incoherent nature and disarray throughout the film. The overall concept (which is discovered in the end) had the potential to be amazing and tackle the controversy and morality surrounding human spirituality. But despite the subject matter, the journey to get there is long-winded and uneventful.
The film starts out with a brief introduction followed by some fluid, fast-paced action. Every aspect of the opening action sequences are entertaining from the intense gunfire and explosions to the well choreographed battles between man and machine. Unfortunately this action quickly halts as the main motive comes into play when Deon (Dev Patel) solves his formula for programmatically creating Artificial Intelligence.
Many films have attempted the A.I. story of transforming a robot into a sentient being. But where many of these films succeed, Chappie unfortunately fails. It was difficult for me to feel connected to Chappie which hurt his development into the conscious being he was becoming. Much of Chappie’s lack of depth can be blamed on the poorly developed characters surrounding him. His main influences weren’t even credible actors. The popular and eccentric South African rap group Die Antwoord portrayed thuggish gangsters that seemed cartoonish as they educated Chappie on morality.
Chappie’s creator Deon (Dev Patel) has some influence over Chappie but much of his time is spent dealing with his militant rival Vincent (Hugh Jackman). This rivalry goes over the top at times as Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of an ex-soldier is almost like a caricature in itself. His motives for his rivalry with Deon are far beyond egotistical being absent of any sort of logic or reason. While the acting seems terrible at times, I think these actors are victims of poorly scripted dialogue and awkward scene transitions.
Overall Chappie just seems scattered. Throughout the film it seemed like Neil Blomkamp couldn’t decide what direction he wanted to take. He seemed to touch on some interesting concepts but then abruptly moved on to another which felt forced more than enlightening. Outside of a few action sequences, I found myself to be bored throughout much of the film’s entirety. The most disappointing aspect of this film is that it had potential on many levels but just fell apart. I wish that Chappie could have focused more on the journey to the end resolution because that would have been an interesting film. Unfortunately the film has too many insignificant moments to carry any sort of lasting appeal.
Chappie – 4 out of 10
Chappie is scattered and never seems to find its footing.