Release Date: March 6, 2015
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Brandon Auret, Johnny Selema, Anderson Cooper, Maurice Carpede, Jason Cope, Kevin Otto, Chris Shields, Bill Marchant, Jason Cope, Kevin Otto, Chris Shields
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 120 Minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Alpha Core, Genre Films
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Country: USA, Mexico
Director Neil Blomkamp surprised the world with his science fiction tale District 9, but did the exact opposite by following up with Elysium (which I happened to love). So he was 50-50 coming into Chappie. The premise seemed like it had a familiar flavor. The story seemed relevant, depicting mankind’s race toward the advancement of artificial intelligence. It appeared to be a visual gem that most couldn’t wait to add to their Blu-ray/DVD collection. Did it live up to all the high expectations?
I don’t think it measured up to even the lower ones. Neil Blomkamp stated he felt Elysium failed because it was based on an “idea” rather than a complex story, but it feels like he entirely forgot about both with Chappie. This film is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve seen since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and we all know what kind of mess that turned out to be. There was no one to cheer for, the trailers were misleading, and it contains one of the worst endings to a movie I can describe.
One thing Mr. Blomkamp does well is world-building. Whether present day, the near future, or the distant future, you believe the world you’re in, and it always seems tangible. So from the start, you’re sucked in, excited, and ready for a great ride. Chappie as well doesn’t waste time with bland introductions, and gets right to the point of the world issue and the growing police force. I was convinced we had a winner on our hands, and I was already contemplating all the positives so far and how I could put them into words.
Then Chappie, our main hero, showed up. Now I loved Chappie’s character — thinking he was the cutest thing in the world — and his childlike innocence warmed my heart. On the flip side, I hate what they actually did with the character by his surrounding parties, then acted as if we’re supposed to accept it.
What drew me in from the trailers was that we were told that a sentient robot creature will come to life, learn as a human does, and then may be able to teach a life lesson from his aspect of life. We had a great supporting actor — Chappie’s creator — who appeared capable of filling those shoes.
But this isn’t what we get. Instead, that supporting actor is briefly in the film, and Chappie is taken over by gangsters that don’t even care about brushing their teeth. Majority of the film is focused on them and how they plan on pulling off heists, then use Chappie as the means to accomplish these remedial goals.
I wanted to see Chappie become a hero, or at least attempt to be one, but we don’t see any instance of that. We spend two hours’ screen time watching babysitting thugs who don’t deserve any more than they have, and who are trying to instill some horrible habits in the main character who we’re supposed to love.
Most other characters are just as shallow. Absolutely no one is likeable, including Chappie’s creator. The brief moments he’s on the screen, I get frustrated because he won’t even take up or defend himself at work. I’m not a snitch, but if a GUN is pointed at me at work by another employee, I’m calling the cops or at least human resources. This is one example of the many WTF moments that take place in Chappie, which gets to you to the point of trying to sneak and look at the time on your phone under your shirt because you don’t give a flying fart about what’s going to happen next.
I can honestly say that I didn’t. The third act barely served a purpose and was just based off an idea of acceptance, which is ridiculous. One character finally got his wish to play with one of his new robot toys, but it was just an excuse to say there’s action in the film, and to sell tickets. Selling tickets through lying about high-quality entertainment is despicable, though.
The ending that they came up with was the definition of poor and forced. It is great when logic is kept simple, but not in this case. The fact that a 911 call or a hospital visit can save a human’s life is completely overlooked; adapting to technology is considered more important. I would spoil it here, but if one decides to see Chappie, I want them to be as surprised as I was.
The only positive thing I can say about Chappie is the way it looked. The cinematography and graphics were spot on. In not one frame was I able to tell whether an effect was CGI or practical. That just goes to show Neil Blomkamp’s talent in direction.
However, direction may be his only talent, because after this piece of garbage, I’m not confident he should be writing his own stories for the rest of his life. The fact that he or anyone involved in this story thought it would be passable to a competent audience gives me a headache. It wakes me out of my sleep, making me toss and turn. A film shouldn’t do that, especially to someone with decent help. I was driven to see if I was crazy and thought I was the only living soul who hated this film. I was relieved to get the opinions of others when waiting outside the auditorium after the credits hit, satisfied to know that all of us shared the same opinion.