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Chappie: Blomkamp Delivers Another Flawed Sci-Fi

  • Dev PatelHugh Jackman...
  • 3DAction & Adventure...
  • Neill Blomkamp
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Chappie: Blomkamp Delivers Another Flawed Sci-Fi

Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, of District 9 fame, you could very well describe Chappie as a quirky mash-up of Robocop and Short Circuit. On paper, it’s one of those plots that is so preposterous that it might just work, but a number of underdeveloped ideas and lack of fluidity wane hard onto its charm.

The story is set in a 2016 South Africa where law-enforcing robots – known as Scouts – have replaced the human police on the streets of Johannesburg. The mastermind behind the creation is brilliant robotics engineer, Deon Wilson (Patel) who – under the supervision of his boss and manufacturer, Michelle Bradley (Weaver) – has managed to create a fleet of automated police officers who operate with no human supervision.

Even though the robots have managed to reduce the crime rate to an all-time low – something that doesn’t sit well with Deon’s competitor, Vincent (Jackman) – a small amount of criminal activity that his robots cannot quite reach. Hoping to break new grounds, Deon wants to make his robots more human-like by providing them with Artificial Intelligence. Despite Michelle’s objections, he moves ahead and plans to implant AI into an old robot, though he is kidnapped and made to give up the child-like robot by a gang intent on using him as a weapon of crime.

Blomkamp’s third feature film sees the director continue his rich vein of form in creating an enriched sci-fi world through innovative CGI visuals without encroaching on the film’s human aspect. However, the film also suffers from a lack of cohesiveness and not as the story develops, various plot strands seem to fade away, without coming together in a unified piece of storytelling.

Patel and Jackman share the limelight and both actors manage to carry the film and maintain audience interest in their characters, though Jackman’s inflated Aussie traits are peculiar and occasionally grating.  Weaver, meanwhile, is criminally underused and one of the more peculiar casting choices is the inclusion of Yolandi Visser and ‘Ninja’ Watkin Tudor of South African rave-rap duo, Die Antwoord. Essentially playing versions of themselves, however, the decision has proved to a fruitful one with the twosome’s particular brand of eccentricity adds another dimension to what is a relatively flawed but entertaining film. 

Like This? Try

Elysium (2013), I-Robot (2004), District 9 (2009).

360 Tip

The film is based on a short-film that Blomkamp made in 2004 called Tetra Vaal.

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