‘Chappie’ movie review
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
From Neill Blomkamp, director of District 9 and Elysium, comes Chappie, the story of the world’s first sentient artificial intelligence robot and the implications and misfortunes of his life.
The movie is set in 2016 in South Africa, where the world’s first police force of 100 robots has been implemented. Down-on-their-luck gangsters Ninja and Yolandi (played by musicians of the same names from Die Antwoord) kidnap Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), inventor of the robots and a new form of sentient artificial intelligence. They’ve also accidentally kidnapped his A.I. robot Chappie (Sharlto Copley), who quickly develops and learns the emotions of crime, love, and thug life.
The performances and character arcs are moving, captivating, and make the audience think. However, the number of plot arcs, unresolved questions, and complicated concepts, brought the quality down considerably. It almost seemed to have no true message or lesson, with the philosophy and technology questions being thrown at the audience too fast. It all ultimately leads to a badly paced, confusing ending that doesn’t address some of the most prominent parts of the film, such as the flash-forward at the very beginning.
After seeing Chappie, I found out Blomkamp envisioned the movie as the first part of a trilogy. This makes all the unresolved things somewhat more forgivable, but does not excuse having a story feel incomplete or hastily wrapped. The characters are given sendoffs that are clearly supposed to be endings, yet not satisfying ones.
By far the best part of the movie is the performances. Almost every character was fun to watch and acted with interest. Die Antwoord are basically playing criminal versions of themselves, but they’re entertaining and serve a great contrast from Chappie’s nerdy, law-abiding creator. They have a companion known as Yankie (Jose Pablo Cantillo), who serves no purpose to advance the story other than being another gangster to steal cars or shoot people.
Even the soundtrack seems convoluted. It features several songs from Die Antwoord that make the movie seem bizarre, contrasted, or even funny, in a story and scenes that are not meant to be funny. It almost seems like the band only agreed to do this movie if it was as self-promoting as possible. Ninja is even wearing a Die Antwoord T-shirt in one scene.
Fans of science fiction—particularly the kind that deals with questions of artificial intelligence and the future—will probably find themselves disappointed with the concepts presented. Instead Chappie is a movie that delivers lots of gunshots, explosions, and robots. The characters are good, the style is alright, but the plot leaves us with too many questions about the story during and after.