Unless you’re desperate for a District 9 sequel that you would settle for anything, Chappie, is a complete waste of time with its stupid screenplay, one note characters, and a forgettable mascot.
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. 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. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind. [Sony Pictures Entertainment]
Sadly, Blomkamp is now following the footsteps of the Wachowskis and Shymalan – one trick ponies whose works slowly devolve into recycled junk.
Chappie is a derivative of District 9, with the same aesthetics and location. Instead of a biped bug, you have a robot with artificial intelligence.
There are already plenty of films about robots with consciousness and Chappie doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
It doesn’t help that Chappie himself is unappealing. While Sharlto Copley’s voice imbues him with a bit of an identity, Chappie’s design prevents him from being relatable. Any supposed emotion is undetectable and usually comes off through hyperactive bursts that becomes annoying after awhile.
Dev Patel is okay as the straight-laced geek, but the character has nothing more to offer him. The trio of lowlife criminals are disposable. Sigourney Weaver is left to bark orders behind a desk. Hugh Jackman is a maniac who also has a mullet and carries a gun in the office in case it isn’t obvious enough.
That by the way, is one just a many stupid things in this film.
In fairness to Blomkamp, his familiar premise does have potential. Deon’s dream of creating artificial intelligence to provide sentience and consciousness, is a good contrast to Vincent’s principle that robots should be controlled by human beings.
Unfortunately, the film spends more time with the trio of lowlife criminals. It is amusing when Chappie gets a crash course on Thug 101, but it looks more like a kid being turned into white trash.
Much like in horror movies, contrivances, cliches and lack of common sense move the story.
You would think that a security firm would have tight security and criminals who have nothing to lose would just kill a guy who works for said company who supplies armed robots to the police. But not in Chappie, which has Transformers level of screenplay logic.
Characters can do whatever they want to create plot points and motivations suddenly go out of the window to delay the buildup.
All the while Chappie tries to figure out the world while he gets torn between three hackneyed subplots – created by a geek who wants him to live a humane life, trained by criminals who wants him to be a #1 motherfucker gangster, and hunted by some crazy maniac who wants to use him for his own agenda.
Basically what you have is a jumbled mess that drags on for two hours. The climax is borrowed from RoboCop with more explosives and the ending is as contrived as everything else.
Blomkamp has a knack for coming up with sci-fi films that have political subtext and social commentary but much like the Wachowskis, the execution leaves much to be desired. Hopefully the Aliens reboot wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
My Rating: 3/10