My Rating: 4 stars
People seemed to really hate this movie . . . which means that I went into the experience with the gift of low expectations. And, I love when that happens. It always leads to me really enjoying films with mixed reviews. And, I really liked this one. In fact, I’m not really sure why everyone’s feathers got so ruffled. It’s fun, and silly, and even raises some interesting existential questions. I love science fiction, I love Die Antwoord, and I love that cheeky South African accent. What’s not to like about this film?
The story is set in the near future, when robot technology is pretty well established. In fact, the police force has largely been replaced by anthropomorphic, titanium soldiers. And, that’s a benefit, because they are largely bullet proof. That really comes in handy on notoriously dangerous streets of Johannesburg. Human have attempted to avoid the problem of a robot revolution by rigidly controlling the robots’ programming. They aren’t sentient and they can’t make their own decisions. That is, until their developer (Dev Patel) creates a brand new, experimental operating system that may create the spark of consciousness. And that’s how he creates Chappie.
Unfortunately, before Dev can properly train and study this amazing, new, artificial intelligence, the robot is stolen from him by a gang of bank robbers—Die Antwoord and friends. But, Chappie is just learning about the world. His mind is a sponge. This means that during Chappie’s most formative, first days of learning and brain development, he’s picking up some pretty rude material. When Dev finally links back up with his creation, he’s already been molded into a slang-talking, bling-wearing, car-jacking, street tough. It’s a very funny premise.
The movie also features a handful of very interesting casting choices. Of course, I love Die Antwoord. Their antics are hilarious, and their music is infectiously fun. They actually feature much more heavily than I was expecting. They’re almost the main characters. Then there’s Sharlto Copely playing Chappie. I’m not sure whether he just voiced the character, or if he was in a green-screen suit doing the actions, but he is as charismatic as ever. Of course, Sigourney Weaver is well-established as the ball-busting CEO character, as seen in The TV Show, and early on in Working Girl. But, then there’s the interesting choice to cast Hugh Jackman as the primary villain. He’s usually such a happy-go-lucky guy. It’s fun to see him in an evil role. And, all these characters work well together.
My overall conclusion is that I liked this movie. It’s fun and quirky, and explores a couple new ideas. And, I can never see too much of South Africa. Plus, the movie is a little heartwarming too. I really don’t know why critics panned this one as much as they did. Maybe because they were expecting another serious and important movie from Neill Blomkamp, in the same vein of District 9. Expectations can really color your experience. But, I feel comfortable recommending this movie to you guys.