By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) returns with his latest low budget sci-fi action film, Chappie and like District 9, the film is based on a short film by Blomkamp released in 2004, Tetra Vaal. I’ve never seen Blomkamp’s original short, but as a movie, I thought it was a decent flick, unlike District 9 and Elysium, Chappie had a very different concept and at first it looked a bit more wide eyed and cute, judging by its trailers.
I got part of that correct, Chappie doesn’t have as much bloody violence as District 9, but the film is still oriented towards older audiences, with its language, violence, situations, and even some robot cruelty, so parents, don’t take your little ones to watch this movie, don’t be fooled by its posters and ads.
The film is set in Johannesburg (Sounds familiar? Well, guess what, there’s no aliens or giant UFOs this time!), in the near future where the law is enforced by a mechanized police force, and now the human citizens are fighting back the robotic officers. When a police droid named Chappie (voiced by Sharlto Copley-District 9, Elysium, The A-Team) is stolen by a group of South African criminals planning a heist to get money, and is given new programming by his maker, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel-Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) allowing him to obtain artificial intelligence and can learn to think and act like a human.
The gang and maker raise Chappie like a human child, teaching him how to read books, paint, and how to use certain objects like watches, dolls, and weaponry. But when an evil competitor to Deon, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman-X-Men franchise, Les Miserables, Real Steel) and the chief of the police force, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver-Alien franchise, Avatar, Paul) learn about Chappie, Michelle orders Vincent to destroy him because of the possible damage he might cause to the human race.
So Chappie must protect his family from Vincent’s high-tech toy, The Moose, a computer controlled mech that resembles the ED-209 from RoboCop before he runs out of battery power and loses his life.
Overall, Chappie is a very solid and amusing third film for director, Neill Blomkamp, it still manages to capture the low budget charm of District 9 and Elysium and still deliver something inventive and new. Although if you’re expecting another film exactly like District 9, you’re not gonna get it, it’s not as violent or graphic as that movie, much like Elysium and Looper.
Honestly there’s not that much bloody violence in it at all, it’s in there but it’s not the focus, it’s focused more on the robot and humans and how they’re going to survive in the world because Neill Blomkamp really loves putting everyone into the slums.
Chappie is a very likeable and gullible character but he’s also a very engaging character and you want to see him learn how to be a human without actually becoming human (You know, I just noticed there’s a splash of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in this movie, but don’t worry there’s no Blue Fairy or CG Robin Williams professor!). Sharlto Copley does a wonderful job bringing Chappie to life and he manages to make the character both dramatic and funny throughout the entire film.
So far, it sounds like Neill Blomkamp is off to a decent start in his filmmaking career, he made three visually impressive sci-fi films with little money and they really paid off. Once the film ended, I honestly want him to do a Chappie sequel, along with a District 9 sequel.
If you enjoyed Blomkamp’s previous work, you’ll probably enjoy Chappie, but if you want something edgier and not quite so adorable looking, I’d say go back to watching District 9 or wait for Neill Blomkamp’s Alien sequel/reboot.