Chappie (aka CHAPPiE) (2015)
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Based on Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp
Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser (aka Die Antwoord)
Jose Pablo Cantillo
Running time: 120 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
I’m not sure if anyone has noticed but I’ve been on a real A.I. movie kick the past few months. This is a favorite topic of mine in films so, despite some very negative reviews, I still wanted to see Chappie as I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I really liked Blomkamp’s District 9 but missed out on Elysium (and still haven’t watched it as we all know how well received that one was). I’ve not yet fully read any reviews of Chappie (other than a good one from Writer Loves Movies defending it HERE) but I’ve read just enough to get the general idea: most people hate Chappie almost as much as Elysium while a small minority are defending it. Well, I guess I’m in the minority. I really enjoyed Chappie and think it deserves more credit than it appears to be getting.
Remember that this is a favorite topic of mine within my favorite genre so I’m going to automatically like it more than some will. Plus, the last A.I. movie I saw was the disappointing Autómata. Chappie is a heck of a lot better than that one but certainly isn’t as good as Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year so far, or even Daft Punk’s Electroma (which is awesome. seriously. no one read that review – that movie should be more well known!). Yes, Chappie is basically Short Circuit except that Ally Sheedy & Steve Guttenberg weren’t South African rappers calling everyone “motherfuckers” all the time. Actually, that would’ve been hilarious. Who’s Johnny, motherfuckers?! (Sorry, Mike – I had to make the Short Circuit comparison as everyone is. At least I didn’t mention D.A.R.Y.L. or… Hardware). 😉
I found Chappie interesting in that it actually explores the morality issues involved in creating self-aware artificial intelligence in a slightly different way than other similar films. Okay – this topic has been explored so much now that it’s very hard to be truly unique but even Ex Machina is guilty of not really bringing anything “new” to the table in the A.I. debate. Chappie treats Chappie (the robot) as a child who needs to be nurtured just as a human child would be. There’s talk of consciousness and “souls” (and violence & how to deal with crime, etc, making this not only like Short Circuit but also RoboCop). Overall, there’s probably a bit too much going on as far as all the various morality issues involved in creating advanced crime-fighting A.I. that whatever Blomkamp’s overall point actually is gets lost. The bits with the film’s two biggest stars, Sigourney Weaver & Hugh Jackman, are the weakest parts and I think more focus on the “Chappie as child in its formative years” thing would have been better. These are the most “human” parts of the film and are oddly touching. Chappie (again, the robot) is done very well – he looks great & his character is very well developed to the point that you DO feel for him. He’s no WALL-E but he comes closer to achieving that than I expected (I adore WALL-E). He’s as likeable as Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5 but with much more personality (and swearing). The most important thing to get right, in my opinion, is the character of Chappie himself & I think the film did a very good job there.
I think the thing that may turn some off this film is the use of South African rap duo Die Antwoord (Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser). I’ve known of them somewhat over the years through a couple of their songs & fucked-up videos and find them intriguing. When I heard they’d be in this film, I assumed it would be in smaller roles but they’re really the main stars. If you don’t take to their characters, you probably won’t like the film. Funny thing is, they end up being the best things about it (after Chappie, of course). These two crazy, swearing, “cartoonish” looking criminals end up feeling just as much if not more “human” than Dev Patel as Chappie’s “Maker”, while the film’s big stars (Weaver & Jackman) end up feeling like the cartoon characters. Or maybe that’s the point? I don’t think so… I think Weaver’s & Jackman’s roles are just very poorly written. It’s a shame, really, as it detracts from the more interesting central theme of A.I. consciousness & nurturing its development.
I thought Chappie was a solid sci-fi film and managed to explore the usual A.I. themes we’ve seen in countless other movies in a somewhat unique & quite entertaining way. It’s a weird kind of mish-mash of the heartwarming aspects of Short Circuit & WALL-E with the ultra-violent cartoonish-ness of RoboCop. This may be putting some people off, however, as the film seems a little confused as to what it wants to be. Sigourney Weaver’s & Hugh Jackman’s poorly written “baddies” aside, I enjoyed the over-the-top violent action film aspects but especially liked the more “human” aspects of watching Chappie become self-aware & start to develop his own personality. I know Chappie won’t work for everyone but it worked for me.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Gotta say this may be my favorite tattoo on Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja) 😉
Yes! More love for Chappie. I am also one of the few people to like Elysium, so I can never understand the hate for Blomkamp’s movies. I think they are really intelligent, but never skimp on being an entertaining action.
Yay! Another Chappie fan. : ) I still have yet to read all the Chappie reviews but they didn’t look very positive, which I don’t understand. Guess I better watch Elysium now too! ; )
sounds very interesting. cant wait to see it…eventually 🙂
IT IS! : ) Honestly not sure what you’d make of it, though… I look forward to hearing your thoughts! 🙂
Wait, there’s a SOUTH Africa now??
YES! I was shocked too. I was educated in America. ; )
This looks pretty lame to me but I am sure I’ll still give it a watch someday. I’m not rushing out to the theater to see it or anything.
Tell the truth – that’s your tattoo with someone else’s face superimposed over yours, right?
You look pretty lame!!! (well, yeah – pretty sure you’ll hate this one) ; ) Bwahaha – I’d never taint my skin with a tattoo but that beauty may change my mind! Lol
I AM LAME!!!!!!!
More like CRAPPIE, right??
Don’t forget the lowercase i! CRAPPiE. ; ) Why didn’t I think of “Crappie”?! SHiT!
I think I’ll just wait for it to hit Netflix like I do with just about every film these days :].
Thanks! : ) Well, I’m one of those who does like to watch as much in the theater as I can but I hope you do check this one out on Netflix. And I hope you enjoy it like I did! : )
I rarely watch tv or go to the theaters. Whenever I do watch something it’s football :]. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this because I am curious about it.
I thought Chappie was rubbish but I like it when a film divides opinion! And glad that I’ve now seen the world’s worst tattoo.
lol. Well… I agree with feeling that way about movies that divide opinion! I think any movie like that beats the high number of “meh – that was okay” movies that are out there. There are far too many bland movies being made. And is that tattoo crazy or WHAT?! Lol. Awful…. : )
Great review lady! We are going to watch next weekend purely because of patriotism for Neil Blomkamp 🙂
Thanks, Natasha! Would be really interesting to know what you think of this one. : ) What do you think of Die Antwoord??
I can clear that up for you right now. Tacky, common, disgusting. Icky. Gross. Eeeeeeew. Offensive. No patriotism from any of us for them. No, thank you!
I deny the fact that they are South-African 🙂
Lol! There are a lot of Americans I’d like to disown as well. Hmm… I’d maybe start with Miley Cyrus. And the Kardashians! 🙂
hahaha I can back you on those ones. We should start a country where we can go dump all the embarrassing people and we can live in peace!
That’s an excellent idea! I think it’ll have to be a pretty big country… : )
Lol! Are you saying you’re not a fan, Zoe?? ; )
Had a fun time with this and hardly lost my interest in it. Even if it did get incredibly weird by the end. Nice review.
Thanks! Yeah… I had a really fun time too! Even when it got weird. ; )
I liked Chappie also! Sure, the topic has been explored many times before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Good review!
Thanks! Glad to find another person who enjoyed Chappie. : ) Critics can be WAY too picky sometimes! As far as this topic goes, it’s far from the worst movie out there.
Excellent review. I agree Jackman and Weaver were the weakest parts of the film and it would have benefitted from more on AI development rather than action. That said there’s a lot if substance to this film and I don’t think it deserves the derision it’s been getting. Thanks for the link to my blog too 🙂
You’re welcome! I’m glad to see there are others who appreciate this film. Yeah – there was a lot more to this film than I was expecting due to the negative reviews. Well, I suppose it helped it to end up being a pleasant surprise. : )
Great work lady, but cannot say this is a movie that I have been holding out for. I might watch it just to give Luke his kicks on (potentially) bitching about the accents, but we will see. See above for commentary on Die Antwoord, which is something that has dragged this film back quite significantly for me. I don’t know, even from the trailers, this doesn’t look like something that will appeal to me. Who knows, I might watch this and love the hell out of it.
Lol. Well… I have to admit that I don’t think you’ll “love the hell” out of this one. 😉 It’s ridiculous but I had a lot of fun with it. As I say, though – it’s very much a genre I love. However, seeing as you feel that way about Die Antwoord, I can’t see you enjoying this. I thought they’d have much smaller roles but they’re very much MAIN characters! And he’s made to be totally hateful. Gotta say I have no clue on if the accents are bad – I’m rubbish with accents! 🙂
Hey this sounds a lot like Short Circuit 2! It was about a fast talking robot built by an Indian guy! But at least Chappie actually cast someone Indian.
I fit wasn’t for how much Elysium bored me i’d be all over this. But i trust your reviews so might go see it this weekend 🙂
Lol. I knew someone would bring that up! I’m still shocked to this day that Michelle Pfeiffer actually dated Fisher Stevens… Hey! Did you see Chappie? Don’t hate me if you hated it!!! Lol 😦
Michelle Pfeiffer and Fisher Stevens?!! Makes me think i still have a chance with you!
Don’t be daft – you’re NO Fisher Stevens!!!! 😉
Interesting perspective about Die Antwoord coming across as the more humanistic elements while the big-named stars of Jackman and Weaver seeming more like cartoons. I err more on thinking that everyone in this film were dirty rotten scoundrels and were ALL cartoons, but Yeah if anything the terrible writing for Jackman and Weaver were more obviously cartoons.
It’s nice to see some love for this film, though. Lovely work Miss Mutant. 🙂
Thanks, Tom! I know you weren’t a fan of this one but I can TOTALLY understand why plenty of people won’t be. ; ) It’s an odd one! But it worked for me. More than anything, I just bought into the character of Chappie, which was the most important character for them to get right. 🙂
Oh, this sounds like fun to me!
Thanks! It IS a fun one. A hard one to actually recommend to anyone, though… It’s a “love it or hate it” and I can totally understand why some hate it. 😉
I really liked Area 9 and I’m kind of fascinated by Yolandi and Ninja. My sister and I are going to watch it together. 🙂
Yeah? I really hope you enjoy it! I’d love to know your thoughts after you see it. Don’t expect anything too deep & you should have fun. Chappie is a great character. 🙂
I’ll let you know once we’ve watched it, probably won’t be for a few weeks, though.
Glad you liked the film. Better than I thought it would be. Pleasant surprise 😀
Thanks, Tim! I thought you’d probably be one of the ones to enjoy this. 🙂 Yes – it WAS a pleasant surprise. Especially after so many bad reviews!
Well you know me if it’s got robots and explosions am in 😀
Hehe. Me too! 😉
Great work, lady! I’m kind of on the fence about this one, but I was leaning toward giving it a go. Definitely when it comes out on DVD if nothing else. Is it bad that part of the reason I hesitate is because of the disgusting mullet Hugh Jackman has going on in that…? Bahaha.
No – it’s not bad because he looks freaking ridiculous! 😉 His character is SOOO damn annoying, too. I have to say, Cara – you really might hate this one. I don’t know! It’s a very weird one. Some love it & some hate it but I really liked the character of Chappie & he’s the one who matters most. 🙂 Just expect a fairly shallow but fun movie & you might like it okay!
Looking forward to this one despite the haters. Good work on the write up! 🙂 Thanks!
Thank you! 🙂 Yeah… I can totally see why so many DO hate this one. Would love to know what you make of it! I had a lot of fun with it. It’s not “good”, but I enjoyed it quite a bit : )
FYI Elysium is SHIIIIIIIIT!
Lol! So I hear… 😉 Will still check it out someday when I have nothing better to do, I guess. 🙂
Queue it up for the next Shitfest!
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I think this movie received too much negative feedback for what it offers! I loved quiet a lot too and I think it brought something new to the genre too. It was just… heart-felt, like District 9? That feeling was missing in Elysium (although I felt that there were attempts to create it).
Agreed! Glad to find someone who likes this movie as I liked quite a lot about it. 🙂 It’s not perfect but it’s a lot better than some of the science fiction films out there. And Chappie is a great character. Elysium is certainly missing anything to make it feel special or unique in its genre….
You’re right… Chappie felt very sincere.
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