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In the near future, crime is patrolled by a 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.
Sharlto Copley – Chappie (voice and motion capture)
Dev Patel – Deon Wilson
Yolandi Visser – Yolandi
Ninja – Ninja
Hugh Jackman – Vincent
Sigourney Weaver – Michelle Bradley
With its mechanical robotics and ‘shifting’ of human souls into machine, Chappie is a pure blend (or should that be mix-up?) of Transformers and Transcendence. Those viewers craving a bit of slick robot action won’t be disappointed; this movie delivers the goods pretty much non-stop. From the opening scene the nuts and bolts are flying. First off, there’s the introduction of the city-dwelling metal help known as the Tetravaal robots. We find ourselves in the near-future, where these tough machines are ‘the norm’ and support to the usual police. Chappie himself comes along when Deon successfully manages to upload conscious into a model which has been written off due to being faulty. Although a fascinating breakthrough is made, the scenario takes place whilst Deon is being held in the rough digs of two gangsters who have kidnapped him – making the situation exciting if somewhat gritty.
So. Chappie (named by Yolandi after she refers to him as a “happy chappie” – original) springs to life, and at first the robot is quite cute. He is like a young child; cowering behind a wall but then slowly approaching Deon and Yolandi as they beckon him toward them. Impressive graphics here – I don’t know what exactly or how much was used, but this robot was very good. Slick and bendy, he moved with crystal clear precision in a very animated style. I actually sat smiling at him moving around – impressive stuff, but then I’m not surprised the main effort went into Chappie himself because the rest of the movie – as a whole – was complete shit.
The trailer gives the impression that this movie is an intriguing look at A.I. and robotic consciousness, when in actual fact, it realy is nothing I haven’t seen before. As I said, it borrows elements from Transformers and Transcendence, and there’s even a bit of Short Circuit in there somewhere (how many of you remember that one?!). Perhaps it’s not the best time to release Chappie, what with Ex-Machina recently wowing certain audiences – because it follows the same path; big discovery about a machine the character didn’t think he’d find, someone else trying to intervene, etc. I fear the whole concept is running dry now.
In a nutshell, Chappie is kicked into life and taught how to be human by Deon and Yolandi (a very unlikely partnership). However, rival work colleague Vincent (Jackman) gets wind of the experiment and gets involved by powering up his own gigantic robot warrior and attacks them in their hideout. That is quite literally it. That’s your lot. The plot is incredibly simple, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. The director tips neither side of the scale here with failing to provide consistency – but then keeping it simple. It was just a bit of a shame no elements of this movie really won me over, just the robot himself. There was one scene which had me smiling constantly though..
During their ‘alone time’ Yolandi and Chappie really hit it off. One particular scene was lovely.
The two of them lay propped up in Yolandi’s bed as she reads him a bedtime story from a book. And the way they interact really is like mother and child. Chappie sits asking questions about what certain things mean, Yolandi calmly explains them. The slightly tense atmosphere between the pair is shattered as bonding takes place and she falls perfectly into place as his nurterer. His mother. This heartwarming scene felt miles away from the overall mood of the movie. It was lovely, had me smiling as I felt all gooey.
Of course my only moan is that Chappie – from moment of creation – adopted a South African accent. I don’t want to offend South Africans here, but the accent fucking grates on me – BIG TIME. Even Yolandi (assuming the accent is that of the actual actress) literally sounds like an alien from outer space. Words such as ‘different’ are pronounced “duffrint” in a voice which sounds like it’s broken. Putting. Words. Next. To. Each. Other. Instead of keeping sentences flowing like normal. And there we are – Chappie has the same accent (obviously voiced by a member of the cast / crew), which I could almost glaze over due to him being a robot anyway.
It was quite funny though – the main bad guy gangster ‘Hippo’ who comes after Yolandi and Ninja has such an awful accent that subtitles are shown on screen, even though he speaks in English. His accent is that bad, I assumed the producers thought most viewers wouldn’t have a fucking clue what he was talking about. What a cast!
As the movie nears its end, a massive battle kicks off between Vincent, Hippo, the two gangsters Yolandi and Ninja, and Chappie. Oh, and with Deon thrown into the middle of it. Before this event takes place, there is a brief scene where Yolandi stands in full view of the camera – dressed in a t-shirt with the slogan ‘CHAPPIE’ on it, complete with an image of a robot. I wondered where she got it. Being a homeless gangster, there’s no way she had time to pop to a clothing printers and have it done – surely?
So it’s nothing major, but if baffled me for a few seconds. See if you can spot it.
Chappie was alright. A rubbish story made better by a cute robot. Overall, the concept of this movie held little substance due to its ability to fade nicely into the background and come across as – well – quite irrelevant. On the technical side, Chappie himself was a nice piece of entertainment. Good machinery / graphics used here and his naive personality in general was just adorable. Don’t waste your money going to see this one, it’s nothing spectacular. Just wait for the rental.