Neil Blomkamp continues his love for everything out of the ordinary in a human world as he takes on machinery with intelligence with his third cinematic installment, Chappie. With the director currently under the spotlight with his new movie as well as being announced as the director for the new Alien film, I highly anticipated something special from this. With the triumphant District 9 becoming a career kickstarter for Blomkamp, it was followed by the under-par Elysium. Chappie popped in my head to hope that it would be an improvement from Elysium, so I went to see it with my popcorn and Tango Ice Blast at my side ready to prepare myself for something I anticipated to be an epic.
Crime is contained and disposed as it becomes hectic and adversity is destroying the beautiful country of South Africa. The police force start using, that I can happily say, “Robocops”, with no resemblence to the film with the same name other than their purpose. This film does concentrate on one of the robots, Scout 22, an accident prone bot that is going straight to the scrap heap. His creator creates a program that can make Artificial Intelligence think and feel like humans, with the only side effects by theory is that once this program is newly installed, it’s like giving birth to a new child, so Scout 22 is used as a technological breakthrough to study his child-like beginnings. It’s not as simple as that though. However, some gangsters in an abandoned warehouse want to get rid of these cop bots once and for all, so they kidnap the creator of them and try to convince him to switch them off.
Just like District 9, there was a documentry feel to the introduction of Chappie. The introduction is the only part of Chappie that features interview segments for the film, it’s not throughout the film. However, unlike District 9, this segment seems utterly pointless for Chappie as it seems to be an attempt to bring some nostalgia from the Blomkamp films. As Blomkamp nods towards District 9, I was looking in the other direction.
As Chappie was in the other direction, it’s hard to not compare the ideas of Robocop and Short Circuit, but Blomkamp does have his unique take on his films. They all do have similarities with each other, but personally I think that’s a good thing as he has his own universe to play with. The casting is hit and miss in this film, Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel are absolutely brilliant in their roles and I couldn’t think of any other people to fill their roles so perfectly. Both play mechancial geniuses, with Patel (Deon) being the good guy and Jackman (Vincent) playing the bad guy.
Lonandi and Ninja (Die Antwoord) however take quite a while to get used to. I do like Die Antwoord, and I really wanted to like them more than I did, but it took a while to connect. They play as gangsters and act like idiots, their acting is nowhere up to par with the likes of Hugh Jackman, but they do add some quriky appeal to the film. The cute coloured weaponry, the explicit graffiti and also their music in the background of some of their warehouse scenes do add something strangely appealing, it’s also a cheeky way to advertise a band as well! Their music along with Hans Zimmer’s score is an unusual mix, kind of like adding sugar to gravy. Sigourney Weaver’s role promises a lot but doesn’t deliever near the end. She’s fantastic and nails the role spot on, only for her character to dissolve in a strangely quiet fashion.
The greatest aspect of not only Chappie, but all of Neil Blomkamp’s films is the animation. It’s beautiful and crisp, and makes Chappie’s image perfect. All of the carnage and destruction are beautifully executed, with the police scout movements and all the fight scenes, I still prefer these films to the swamped plots of the Transformers movies. With the Moose’s predictable appearance and also the communication of the scouts with each other and themselves are all made very precisely and accurately.
Chappie is a fantastic example of exploring the world through innocence and guilt and illustrates a child growing up with such a dark reality. The cop bot is oblivious to every bad thank to Ninja’s criminal brainwashing. Chappie keeps the audience engaged with comedy, tradegy and mental evolution, he explores his intelligence from throwing shurikens to creating conciousness through the power of an army of PS4’s. This film has similarities to Ex Machina in that respect, it’s also influenced by other films I’ve mentioned, but aren’t most films showing their influences? Blomkamp creates a great film that overlooks the annoyances it has. It’s a vicious package of mixed emotions and gripping fights that’s accompanied with charm and tradegy.