South-African director Neil Blomkamp is once again out to give us a thought-provoking, near-future, philosophical sci-fi movie. Will it work as well as District 9 or Elysium? Well… Yeah?
From the moment I saw the trailer for Chappie, I was not sure what to think. I loved District 9 and enjoyed Elysium but this movie looked weird. A movie about a baby AI robot being raised by a group of people who look like they were attacked by highlighters. I wasn’t really sure what this movie was going for. This in fact seems to be one of the major criticisms of Chappie, it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. Did it want to be an interesting philosophical story about the soul and self? Is it a sci-fi film about the creation of AI and humanities fear to embrace it? Is it an analysis of nature / nurture, what happens when a blank slate is simultaneously introduced to good and bad stimuli? Yes, on all counts and that is kind of a problem.
Chappie is an unfocused movie that tries to do too many things and, therefore, misses most of them.
That being said, I enjoyed Chappie. Why? Mainly because of the performance of Sharlo Copley who did the voice and motion-capture for the robot Chappie. Chappie was incredibly sympathetic. When he is being abused and manipulated, you get angry. When he is doing well and maturing, you are happy for him; he is truly the best thing about this movie. The trouble with this movie is that all other characters are either uninspired (Sigourne Weaver), cartoonishly evil (Hugh Jackman) or annoying and completely unsympathetic (Ninja & America’s). That is not a recipe for success. Though I will say, there were some scenes where Dev Patel and Yo-Landi from Die Antwoord interacted with Chappie that were very sweet and were able to pull me through the rough patches.
In the end, I would not recommend Chappie to many people. I enjoyed it, but I like Neil Blombkamp’s style and vision and so I’m able to look over the plot inconsistencies and psuedo-science this movie pushes. The moments of action were thrilling and entertaining. There were some interesting ideas about the soul and consciousness that I wish were explored deeper. The trouble with Chappie is it attempts to be to many things and therefore fails at being anything. That being said, I will eventually buy this on Blu-Ray, I realize I’m in the minority there but I’m okay with that.
Did you see Chappie? What did you think? Does it deserve the 28% it received from Critics on Rotten Tomatoes? Let us know in the comments below.
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