ReviewWriter: Naseem RandhawaWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"District 9", "A.I. Artificial Intelligence", "Bicentennial Man" The Good, The Bad, and The CHAPPiE:
It's relatively incredible to see what "District 9" director Neill Blomkamp has created with "Chappie", his third feature film, by fusing a peculiar mix of South African ghetto gangster violence and robotics artificial intelligence.
Like all of Blomkamp's stories, "Chappie" is also set in the gritty future (this time in a not too distant 2016) but instead of going the hard sci-fi route of "Elysium", he takes us back to his success proven formula in recalling the rough mean gangster run city of Johannesburg similar to "District 9".
Where there is Blomkamp there is also actor Sharlto Copley, who this time plays the titular CHAPPiE (as it's stylized) that steals the show from the rest of the film's bigger stars. It's amazing to see how fluidly the robot moves (presumably through motion-capture) and fares to express emotions even though its design may not be the conventional cute-sy type for one to easily find adorable. For example, through its subtle head movements and the hunching of its shoulders, CHAPPiE feels less robotic and more human in portraying childlike innocence and eagerness, suggesting that it even has self-esteem!
Written by Blomkamp and his wife, Terri Tatchell, it's barely 5 minutes before audiences get into the thick of action through an early gang confrontation. But the simplistic story really starts with Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) whom finally lands a fittingly decent role in this one.
As the lead engineer of a robotic weapons development firm, Wilson uses a discarded police robot to secretly test out his new human consciousness program, but what he finds in CHAPPie is a childlike robot who just like humans, needs to learn how to talk and form its own consciousness to differentiate right from wrong. When Wilson and his yet to be tested robot gets kidnapped by a trio of thugs, this is where things start to get gain its hilarity, as two of the thugs are made up of the eccentric popular South African rap-rave members of Die Antwoord; Watkin Tudor Jones and Yolandi; as they bring their quirky personalities on screen in full-bloom colour (literally).
Even for those who don't know Die Antwoord, it wouldn't matter as they are substantial as thugs who corrupt the innocent CHAPPie with their evil ways as its 'Mummy' and 'Daddy' against the wishes of its 'Maker', Wilson, who tries defiantly to instill CHAPPie to be good. In comes Wilson's jealous co-worker, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman); an Australian accented, mullet haired, khaki shorts wearing and knee socked; religious man who's not happy with Wilson playing God and creating a new form of life rather than weapons, for their company headed by a Sigourney Weaver in her usual stern role that doesn't take up enough screen-time to talk about.
Two of the film's biggest stars are overshadowed by the robot and the other actors, but perhaps Jackman's decision to play a minimalist villain here was only to warm audiences to his shift in taking up more bad guy roles. (Jackman's next role is as Blackbeard for Warner Bros' "Pan"). Dev Patel however, seems to be gaining his acting chops back since "Slumdog Millionaire" after slumming it for quite a bit after that with dreary and forgettable movie roles.
There are liberal amounts of gunfire and bloody violence, ample swear words strewn across the entire movie with the expected absence of sexual elements. Plenty of the enjoyable scenes of the movie come from watching CHAPPie being trained to become a tough gangster and there are some Grand Theft Auto moments that are not to be missed for great laugh out loud moments.
More like a 'lite' version of "District 9" meets "E.T.", "Chappie" strays away from delving too deep in portraying socio-political issues through metaphorical means. This time, Blomkamp focuses more on the touching moments on what's it like to discover humanity and differentiating right from wrong in the midst of all the vehemence via South Africa's gangster community.Cinema Online, 04 March 2015