South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp’s (District 9 and Elysium) third time around with the robot card is a disappointment.
In 2009, District 9 blew audiences away and brought all of the elements of a classic sci-fi to the table. Director Blomkamp’s imagination and visual splendor made an impressive mark in Hollywood. This sensational social commentary was thoroughly smart and original. Blomkamp had succeeded in his underlining message and action packed pulp fest. Next, came the more messy Elysium in 2013.
While it had the social commentary as District 9, still, it was a bit of a comeback for director Blomkamp. The blunt action scenes and jargon of a storyline threw this film for a loop, but Matt Damon’s performance kept the film somewhat in place. For the third time around, Blomkamp’s sci-fi continuum feels depleted and poor Chappie didn't even have a starting chance. We return to Johannesburg, where we meet scientist Deon (Dev Patel) who upgrades a damaged police robot. Deon reboots the droid with an artificial intelligence and human feelings. Chappie (voiced by a veteran Sharlto Copley) is like a child and has to learn to adapt now in the new world.
Unfortunately, two gangbangers (played by Watkin Tudor Jones and Yolandi Visser of the South African zef rap-rave group Die Antwoord) kidnap Deon and Chappie and decide to keep his precious machine. From there, Jones A.K.A. Ninja and Visser help raise Chappie on the street life and program him to shoot, steal cars, street talk, wear bling and act gangsta. Chappie has big ideas, but squanders over them and Blomkamp has finally exhausted his expertise on the action scenes.
As for the cast, Sigourney Weaver’s talent is wasted and Huge Jackman sports one of the worst haircuts in recent memory. At times Chappie is charming and funny, but in others is tedious and completely incoherent. Copley was the only privilege while watching this film by giving Sir Chappie an extra burst of excitement. Sadly, that is not enough to save this film itself. So is Chappie friend or foe? Regardless, Chappie ends up being Sappie.
Chappie is rated R (Restricted). For violence, language and brief nudity.
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