Chappie is the second film by Neill Blomkamp (director) and Terri Tatchell (screenwriter). Their first film is District 9 and Chappie has a lot in common with it. District 9 was excellent and made Blomkamp famous. After that, he directed Elysium, another sci-fi film that I like, but not even close to District 9.
Chappie is a sci-fi film set in the near future. In the Republic of South Africa, more precisely in Johannesburg, the police are losing the fight against criminal gangs. The company Tetravaal (as Blomkamp’s short film is also called, he said that Chappie is based on it) has come up with a solution to this problem. The idea is a completely armored, combat robot Scout, in support of the police force. Their first test was successful, so the police ordered more of them. The scout was designed by Deon (Dev Patel), a brilliant IT engineer with hidden intentions to make the first AI.
Another engineer, Vincent (Hugh Jackman), a former soldier, has a different robot design, a huge and heavily armed monster, but the police do not want to buy it. On the other side of the city, a couple of petty criminals, Ninja and Yolanda, have to find 20 million dollars because they screwed up the delivery of drugs. Otherwise, the head of the Hypo gang will kill them. Coincidentally, these characters will cross paths, and in the middle of that crossroads is the robot Chappie.
Chappie has ups and downs. When you look at its elements, many of them are also seen in District 9 – similar locations, photos, characters and overall atmosphere. Criminals look the same, robbers, dealers and all sorts of figures in a completely devastated suburb. There is also a large corporation, Tetravaal, very similar to MNU from the District. That, as far as I’m concerned, is ok because I love District 9 very much, and those similar elements worked here as well, but I was expecting more from this movie.
The story is interesting. Blomkamp took the concept of a future in which robots are a part of everyday life. He added the idea of AI to that concept, as well as another often used in the last year, two, and that is the idea of transferring the human mind to a computer. He put everything in an interesting and unusual environment full of special and unusual characters. He created two diametrically different worlds of people and gathered them around one thing that could change their lives and help them fulfill their dreams and goals. They will have completely opposite ideas of what to do with that thing, and their interaction is the best part of this film, at least for me.
Technically, the film was shot very well. Special effects and other visual solutions are great, as are the robots. The music is great, which I had no doubt about, because there’s Die Antwoord, a South African rap group whose members Ninja and Yo-Landi are one of the main characters in this film. The cast is very good. It was strange to see Jackman as a villain, but he did a very good job. Patel is also fine. Ninja and Yolanda are great and it was fun to watch them play themselves. Chapia is played by Sharlto Copley who was the lead actor in District 9. I will just say that the choice of Sigourney Weaver, an actress I love very much, was completely unnecessary, but honestly, this little role was completely unnecessary for her.
Chappie is a fun movie to watch. He has a good idea, some very interesting solutions, actions and visual sequences, good cast and great music, but he also has some script shortcomings, and maybe it lasts too long. When I say the flaws in the script, I don’t think the characters got a lot of space to develop, so the whole film suffers from a lack of depth.
If you like fun sci-fi with good action and colorful characters, and if you like Blomkamp’s movie mood, then Chappie is the right movie for you.