This didn’t make me a happy chappie.
BUT it wasn’t all bad.
Chappie is basically a What If film.
What if Johnny Five was alive and hanging around in a South African ghetto with Die Antwoord?
Your reaction to that statement will probably be the one you have when you see it.
For me, it was a return to form (of sorts) for Neill Blomkamp.
After the drab affair that was Elysium, I feared the worst for Blomkamp. Especially after rewarding us with such a promising debut and sleeper hit, District 9.
I’m still waiting for them to return, Mr Blomkamp!
So what’s it all about? In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie (Sharlto Copley) is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
Hardly original. BUT for the first 30 minutes, I was switched on and hooked.
The inevitable talking head documentary intro that Blomkamp has grown accustomed to was unnecessary.
The quick introduction of the police bots and “Who’s Who?” kept things moving. Getting you straight into the thick of it.
The bots just reminded me of Robocop. Even their voices sounded like Peter Weller as they apprehended suspects. Granted, these upgrades were a lot more mobile.
The animation and special effects during the action sequences were fantastic.
BUT it’s not long before we’re introduced to a group of irritating street thugs and one unlucky police bot.
Die Antwoord? Where have you heard that name? They are responsible for the hit or travesty that was Enter The Ninja. Here’s a crash course for you.
It was a big risk to give a music act two of the more meatier roles. I respect Blomkamp for choosing South African talent BUT surely there were other contenders?
Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja didn’t do a bad job. It just didn’t help that one couldn’t act and the other’s character was so deluded and irritating, you were praying for Hugh’s Moose to crush him. (Wait, what? Steady now! I’ll get to that reference in two paragraphs).
The maternal moments between Chappie and Visser were done well but when it came to delivering any real lines with conviction, she fell short.
Ninja was such an unlikeable character. His deluded gangster ego was laughable. I’m sure that was Blomkamp’s intention but he was just so irritating. If he wasn’t yelling at Chappie, he was beating up Dev Patel.
Brandon Auret’s crime lord Hippo (A few animal names being thrown about) was ridiculous. It didn’t help that he was subtitled throughout the film. Even worse when you could understand every word the bloke was saying.
He played the nutter well enough. I think there was only one thug that deserved subtitling and that was because he was actually dipping in and out of English.
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank) was good as the appropriately titled character American.
The idea that a sentient robot is being raised by surrogate parents in the form of a trio of dysfunctional street thugs is hilarious.
It certainly had some funny moments. BUT also some shocking ones. His lessons on the world were interesting and well executed. However, if you were expecting something more serious and intense, you may be left wanting.
Blomkamp uses recurring stalwart Copley to provide his vocal gravitas to the mechanical messiah. And he is brilliant.
Chappie’s design looked great and his expressions were incredible. It was just the little things that made it for me. The little matrix dots that form eyes on Chappie’s visors, his mismatching ears made up of various parts, the irritating bling around his neck.
I liked that he had to learn like he was a child. His cowering behind walls, watching He-Man and being read story books were nice little touches.
Dev Patel played the part of Chappie’s maker Deon well. It was just annoying when his character seemed to keep disappearing for good chunks of the film. Merely popping up to reiterate exposition or when everything seemed to kick off.
Sigourney Weaver isn’t looking too shabby at 65 and she played the corporate drone as well as she could. BUT all she did was pout and moan at either Deon or Vincent. A waste of a talented actress.
Bar one cracking line delivered with Weaver’s conviction (Burn it to ASH!), you realise by the closing credits that her character was pointless.
Hugh Jackman, uh, well. He did his best. BUT his character was such a tool (Putting it mildly) that I couldn’t take him seriously.
All he did was monologue. Providing a running commentary of everything he was doing while donning the Steve Irwin look. “Shall I execute this program? Yes, I will. What is he doing? Where is he going? I’m going to follow him”.
Alright, mate. Inside voice, yeah?
He was so comical. It was cringeworthy. I was more afraid of his robo counterpart. The Moose. It was ED-209. Only it could fly and shoot missiles. So stairs won’t be a problem any more.
It’s racy, action packed, funny and the closing moments certainly surprised and disappointed at the same time.
In typical Blomkamp fashion, the ending leaves things a little . . .
District fans will know where I’m heading with this. If you don’t, I’m not going to spoil it. Some clever little twists certainly surprised me BUT it still came to an abrupt end.
The problem that Elysium had was that it was too serious. Chappie was too comical and at times for the wrong reasons. District 9 had that balance perfectly.
This hasn’t put me off the rumoured Alien reboot that Blomkamp is supposed to be directing.
If you’re expecting super serious bot on bot action, I recommend Terminator or Robocop. But if you’ve read my review and are still intrigued, then give it a go. It ain’t all bad.