CHAPPIE Film Review

-Chappie (2015) is a film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) & his wife, Terri Tatchell. It stars Blomkamp's go to actor, Sharlto Copley (whose accent is really hard for me to follow some days) along with Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, and RoboCops voice! (I'll explain later.). It also stars Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser, members of a South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer"), who are fans of Blomkamp's work.

"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. "

The story takes place in Blomkamp's favorite location, Johannesburg, in the near future where the police have reduced the high crime rates by using police robots made by the Tetravaal Company, designed by the engineer Deon Wilson (Patel).

One of Tetravaal's employees, a former military man, Vincent Moore (Jackman) is envious of Deon, since he has developed his own idea/project called Moose, (which looks A LOT like another bad robot from another movie we won't mention too much here.) but neither Tetravaal nor the police department is interested in Moore's idea because it still needs a human operator and it seems over the top destructive.

Deon has just developed an artificial intelligence but the Tetravaal's CEO Michelle Bradley (Weaver) asks him to abort the project. Deon decides to srteal... I mean bring a damaged unit, that was scheduled to be scrapped home to test his A.I. program, despite being told to drop it.

But in the process of his kidnapping the scrap heap of a robot, Deon himself gets kidnapped by a bunch of aspiring gangsters, Ninja, Yo-Landi and Amerika, who want this robot, whom they name Chappie, to help them stop the robot cops. They force Deon to program it to heist banks with them and they call it Chappie. But the AI is designed to learn from the ground up and Chappie acts like a child or a terribly frightened dog and needs to be trained to learn and grow.

All the while, Vincent follows Deon aruond and plots an evil scheme to activate his own robot, Moose, and the third act is focused on defeating that evil, and wrapping up a few emotional themes from the film.

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Chappie was rated 6.8/10 by IMDb users and got a 32% from Rotten Tomatoes, which is not surprising, considering what I just watched.

The film was an interesting movie to sit through. It starts out pretty fast showing us the robot police force at work, and here was my first distraction. The police force, when issuing commands to the public and bad guys, sure did sound an awful lot like RoboCop's Peter Weller's voice. And Moose looked like one of the bad guy bots from RoboCop too, the ED-209. So there were those distractions. Peter Weller's IMDb page shows no reference to Chappie, but says that the cop unit voices are indeed Weller's RoboCop voice. BUT I don't see that referenced anywhere else on the web, but it sure did sound just like it.

Did you Know? What is interesting is that this isn't the first time we've seen the Tetravaal company name. We've seen it before in District 9 on a wall when in the MNU laboratories to steal the fuel.

With that said, even though the story may have been about what life is, no matter how it looks, I think we lose the focus on that story and focus on the moments in the movie and the big, overall scheme of the story. I wasn't totally sucked in.

It wasn't a bad story experience but then we got the "Jump the Shark" crap that kicked in near the end of the third act. It ran the story off the rails and took the wind out of the sails of the theme of life itself. It's here that I have to toss out some end-game spoilers for Chappie.

I really do because this may serve as a warning on what to expect by the end of this film that pulled the wind right out from under the story.

Chappie Spoilers

So Chappie is trying to save himself because the body that was damaged that he was put into was dying. He nabs a new body, snags a telemetry helmet designed to be worn by humans, and ends up using it himself. Because, you know, a robot head works exactly like a human head and brain. Right?

But wait... after that hoped-for leap of faith asked of from the viewer, there's more.

Deon gets shot, so what the hell. Chappie tries to save his creator by using the helmet to install his consciousness into another robot body. And Deon seems OK with it.

Aaand it doesn't stop there. The gangster girl who was going soft on Chappie got shot up too. So guess what? Yep! Chappie uploads her brain onto the web and into a robot making factory and a random head wakes up, for us to believe this was her.

OMG, it's a party, who else can we shove into a robot body??? THE girl waking up in a robot was the closing scene of the movie.

Do you remember the Syfy Channel series, Battlestar Gallactica? Great series that was ruined with the last few episodes of the series where they were pulling desperate ideas out of their asses to finish it off. Those last few eps soured me on buying the BD series. Along the same lines, I do NOT get what Blomkamp's plans or hopes were with these set of brain transferring events, but it took the wind out of my opinion of the film. And yet again, we see the primary character evolve into something else by the end of the film. Huh. Then again, this title was originally designed to be a trilogy, but that plan got scrapped, so the cliffhanger ending was a waste.

First and last impressions are critical when you meet anyone, or, in this case, watch something on TV. Like when you watch NASCAR and when the finish is exciting, you feel pretty excited about the whole thing and when it's a boring finish, well, you feel the entire show was boring.

Chappie starts off distracting us with RoboCop voices, then ends with a real stretch for the viewer to digest that insults the story from the middle act. This kills both the first and last impressions.

Depending on what you focus on, Chappie either sucked or was somewhat entertaining. It's up to you. For me, it was a poorly developed surprise from Blomkamp who is usually good at wrapping up his stories and delivering his theme.
"Humanity's last hope isn't human," and it wasn't this film either!

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