Acclaimed director Neil Blomkamp might have been riding high off his last two successes, but his newest piece might take him down a peg or two.
“Chappie” takes place in Johannesburg set in the near future where crime and police deaths have spiraled out of control. To combat this problem, the city has turned to a local defense contracting company, Tetravaal, to create a large force of titanium robot cops called “Scouts”. Its a copy and paste plot from Robocop’s OCP.
The genius behind Tetravaal’s robotic success is Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), he is the creator of the scout robot, but still has larger ambitions to build a robot that has true A.I. (artificial intelligence).
Wilson’s main enemy in the movie (besides himself) is Vincent Moore, a mullet sporting Huge Jackman; who had his own vision of larger scale, militant robots called “The Moose” that would be controlled by humans. More like a drone than a robot.
The reason Wilson is his own worst enemy is that he wants his dream to come true so much that he doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions while he strives to achieve his goals. For instance, he steals a damaged robot to upload his recently perfected A.I.
“Born” with a damaged battery which will only gives five days of life, Chappie quickly runs through all of the different ages of life but never misses a step. Watching Chappie self-realize inside the Hobbesian world of Soweto is both joyful and horrific, particularly his introduction to ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ and the idea that he must get a little red too if he wants to survive.
Voiced by Sharlto Copley, the really power of the movie come from Chappie’s journey through a moralistic dicotamy brought on by his creator and caretakers. The decisions he must make and the lessons he learns from them make the audience feel for this poor being that has had to come to grips with an ever changing and dangerous world in the span of a few days.
Definitely not on par with District 9 or Elysium.
It is rumored that Blomkamp’s next movie is the final chapter in the Aliens saga, let’s hope he is on his “A-game” if the rumors are true.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5