I want to give you a bit of a “review” of’ CHAPPiE, but I don’t want to give much away’. Why? Because I have been fortunate enough to walk into the last three Neil Blomkamp movies with very little preparation, aside from a trailer or two-and it made the experience exponentially more satisfying. I was blown away the first time that I saw District 9, slightly underwhelmed by Elysium, but blown away again by CHAPPiE. So, I am about to give you a very narrow summary of the movie. If you want to preserve your movie knowledge virginity as well, skip the next two paragraphs.
Basically, Chappie takes place in a crime infested, slightly futuristic Johannesburg. Tetra Vaal is a robotics company who has released a line of police robots invented by young scientist and engineer Deon (played by Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame). The robots are keeping crime at bay very successfully, but fellow engineer Vincent Moore (played by Hugh Jackman, of Hugh Jackman fame) and his massive military grade robot “Moose” are left living in their shadow. Vincent becomes aware that Deon has been playing with artificial intelligence technology in one of the company’s robots, and tries to strategize a way to jeopardize the police robotics program, and Deon’s A.I efforts.
Meanwhile, Deon finds himself in trouble with a group of local gangsters, played by Yo-Landi and Ninja of ‘Die Antwoord’ (yeah, you heard right) and Jose Pablo Cantillo (Walking Dead) who want him to program a robot to help them pull off a high stakes heist. Utilizing his recent breakthrough in artificial technology while trying to save his life, he creates ‘CHAPPiE’ (voiced by Blomkamp staple actor, Sharlto Copley), who grows from the mind of a child, to a street thug, to an alarmingly intelligent being. Oh, and there was only a LITTLE bit of Sony’s signature product placement. However, there was a lot of Die Antwoord playing in the background. Despite not being a fan myself, it didn’t bother me to hear it throughout the movie.
If you decided to skip those last couple of paragraphs, all that you need to know is: go see this movie. It was surprisingly emotional, gritty in its realism, original and-in my humble opinion-very memorable.Sure, there are flaws. The acting was surprisingly good, whatever CGI went into creating CHAPPiE was very well done and the story was really gripping. Believable or not, this is definitely a movie that I will remember.
I found myself drawing an immediate comparison to the Johnny Depp flick ‘Transcendence’ that came out last year, but there is really no comparison. Though both movies show how startling artificial intelligence and sentient consciousness has the potential to be, CHAPPiE manages to keep its effects and progression at a believable level. It may be a more playful and immature look at the subject, but that is what I enjoyed about it. It did not take itself too seriously, and much like ‘District 9’ it was not afraid to mix in strange and imperfect characters with non-human elements that you could emotionally attach yourself to-alongside a bit of guerilla style action violence.
Like I said, originality is certainly not lacking in this film. I had moments of emotional confusion and was genuinely taken aback by how the story and the development of CHAPPiE’s personality was handled. Blomkamp has definitely made a fan out of me all over again. Don’t listen to the critics on this one. Go see it and make up your own mind.
If you see CHAPPiE this weekend, head over to the Buddy Critic Facebook page and tell us what you thought!