CHAPPIE [2015]

chappie-australian-poster

Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Written by Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Die Antwoord

Apart from being a two-hour long advert for a South African rap-group, this is an extremely confused movie that is a rollercoaster in (almost) all the wrong ways. It is obvious that Blomkamp/Tatchell share some strong political opinions, not to mention what feels like a certain disdain towards humanity – and I can’t blame them if I am honest – as Bill Hicks once said: “We’re a virus with shoes”. Or perhaps he just doesn’t like his home country that much. Either way, this bleak outlook, apart from the (awful) comic relief provided mostly by said rap-group (and at least three horribly lame montages of Chappie becoming more ‘gangster’, which could have been poignant scenes if he was learning almost anything else), makes for a political lecture of a film with many lofty ideas that it unfortunately does not execute with much finesse. Yes, the world is becoming more oppressed, and a film about robots taking up that role of oppression is exactly the moral lesson Blomkamp decided we needed. It of course is plausible, but also relentlessly pessimistic. Excessive use of slow-motion and rapid-fire different camera angles during action scenes almost completely remove the impact from these set-pieces and the impact of the films ideas, but the film certainly has a rather thoughtful conclusion that is believable and, despite the thin characters, somewhat emotionally resonant.

chappie-10b

Given these views, Chappie was an extremely frustrating watch for me. There are undeniably some great elements here, such as the robot acting like a person, forming relationships, having opinions and the ability to express them… The people gradually treat it more and more like a person than a robot. This element of the film reminded me of the new Apes franchise in how they depict distinctly human scenarios within the groups of apes. AI also had a massive influence on this obviously, when the robot is childlike it almost felt like a slight ripoff of AI. But Chappie has an interesting character arc, and due to the extremely shallow human characters, Chappie is by far the most interesting character of the film and the only one whose personality-progression means something. Hugh Jackman is the only interesting human character to be found.. But he is not a big part of the story, and his motives even less-so. A good idea then: have a rap-group take up most of the movie – who needs Hugh Jackman? This South African rap-group Die Antwoord are in almost every scene, teaching Chappie how to be ‘gangster’. I am honestly cringing just writing those words, not just because as a concept it hurts my brain, but also because Die Antwoord are not actors and their presence on-screen was beyond irritating and was beyond grating. Plain horrid and completely unnecessary are adjectives that come to mind. Their treatment of Chappie  obviously is representing bad parenting and the concept of conditioning, but it funnily enough actually says very little about artificial intelligence, and certainly nothing new. The same can be said for the entire movie. Funny thing is I actually really like their music.

chappie-1

Hugh Jackman’s character was a rather transparent and obvious take on drone warfare – but not only does Jackman overact (going from what he was given I am guessing, as he is a better actor than this), as mentioned his characters’ motives are sparse to put it kindly. The only reason we see for his maniacal, psychotic temperament is office politics and business competition. Yes, he and the fellow designer who created Chappie are different, essentially competitors working in the same office. But further from this? The reasons for his increasingly bizarre behaviour are unknown. Initially it seems his character brings a somewhat interesting variation on Artificial Intelligence. At closer inspection though, it is simply an extremely obvious comment on how shitty we humans are. Yeah, we get it already Neill. Try something new could ya? No need to hammer the point down our throats mate, film after film. Of course there is never a hint of the two working together, as that just wouldn’t make for a good narrative, and that would depict humans in a positive light. In reality though it would have made the most sense within the story, and again there is no real reason given for why the two don’t work together. Their different ideas and personalities could, perhaps, have made for a better movie if they had have collaborated. The almost complete lack of heart and emotion in this office and in most scenes without Chappie makes these people seem quite soulless. This perhaps was intentional, but it leads to some very bland characters who are hard to care about.

chappie-dev-patel-hugh-jackman

Chappie is packed with good ideas and themes relevant to today’s political climate, but is unfortunately lacking in execution due to a variety of reasons, most signifigantly the lack of depth in the characters and their motives, not to mention some truly awful editing. Very much worth a watch, though I would wait for a rental, as the film doesn’t look good enough to warrant the big screen treatment. The film is filled with great ideas and concepts, though unfortunately maybe one or three too many. Additionally most of these themes are thrown aside for the final action-filled act, however they are all relevant to modern society and the film must be commended for this creative social commentary, even if it is abandoned almost entirely by the end of the film. Unfortunately because these ideas reside within a slightly clumsy film that isn’t well shot, it feels confused as to what exactly it wants to be, leading to an uneven watch in regards to the pace and flow of the narrative, and the entire film in general.

2.5/5

12 Comments on “CHAPPIE [2015]

  1. Your review pretty much falls in line with most, kind of middle of the road. I still want to see the film as I enjoyed his previous efforts, but home video is good enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah its not as essential as District 9, which did a much better job of getting his ideas across. For me, this was a step to the side after Elysium, rather than a step up, which is dissapointing, but all the relevant social and political themes make it definetely worth a watch. Very creative

      Liked by 1 person

    • Telltale, you’re taste is kind of like mine. You like good movies. Yet you also like bad movies that have a lot of good in them. With that said, I think you’d have a blast watching this. I sure as hell did haha.

      Although, I can’t disagree with a lot of what you say, Jordan! I really liked Elysium despite the mostly negative reception and I still walked out entertained by this. For me, the main problem is Die Antwood. Without their involvement, I feel like Chappie could been a whole LOT better haha.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Looks like we belong in the same camp of critics who just had their ass chapped by Chappie’s dumbness. I was also irritated by many of the characters here, but I think just moreso in Blomkamp’s complete lack of faith in the human race, which you duly pointed out in the early part of this review. Nice work bud

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hehehe, chapped by Chappie. Heh, and he was only dumb because he was captured by morons, or ‘gangsters’, and they are unbearable to watch. If he was learning something meaningful I’d have liked this a lot more. But no, gangsters and bling are the in-thing right?

    And yeah, the total lack of faith in humanity means the movie feels like a lecture, stating over and over:

    OI HUMANS! ALL OF YA! STOP BEING CUNTS YEAH?

    Like

  4. Hi Jordan! I’m really glad I skipped this one. Had an inkling it’d be pretty crappie and turns out I was right. I was disappointed w/ Elysium though I had been a fan of D-9, heh sounds like Blomkamp is a one hit wonder so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ruth! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Yeah, I’m with you on all counts. I liked D-9, didn’t like Elysium much, but I was expecting something interesting. It didn’t fail in that department, but it failed virtually everywehre else haha. But its wealth of good ideas can’t be tossed aside COMPLETELY imo

      Like

    • Haha I’m with you on Jackman! I normally rate him too but wow, what happened?! And yeah, the Chappie character itself was awesome! It was that rap group that got on my nerves hehe

      Like

  5. You make some valid points, but I was completely engrossed by it. Just loved a lot about it, Die Antwoord was great, Chappie was fun (and amazingly animated) and even didn’t mind the illogical moments (like the gun being pulled in a workplace without anything done about it)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fair call 🙂 It certainly had heaps going for it but the rap group bugged me too much! Chappie did look great too, tho I’m kinda unsure why mo-cap tech was used.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

  6. Pingback: EX MACHINA [2015] | epileptic moondancer

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