Monday 27 July 2015

Chappie: Mini Review...

What's it about?
In a crime-ridden near-future Johannesburg high tech police robots are put on the streets to clean things up. However, their creator has dreams of developing a truly sentient artificial intelligence, and opts to test his newly developed code on 'bot #22, which has been destined for scrap. Unluckily for him, he's kidnapped by a gang of criminals in-hoc to a crime lord for a hefty sum - and they want to use his skills and his sentient robot to facilitate their final heist.
Who would I recognise in it?
Sharlto Copley (voice and MoCap), Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Die Antwoord, and others.
"Short Circuit" meets "RoboCop" by way of "District 9" ... did you dig those flicks? If you did, chances are you'll dig this too. Far better for a new film to take significant cues from earlier films and apply its own little something to it, than for movie fans to suffer yet another inferior remake. Numerous parallels can be drawn between "Chappie" and "RoboCop" in particular, but this is still unmistakably a Neill Blomkamp film - he even takes a few cues from his break out film "District 9"...

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There's an anarchic-but-sweet tone to the film as Chappie wrestles with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world he inhabits. Chappie is a little crazy, switching from cutesy discovery to bullet-spraying violence to existential sci-fi, but its successes far outstrip its troubles. Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman are both left with relatively one-dimensional supporting characters, but more care is afforded to the band of criminals who 'adopt' Chappie. They are like three different shades of moral grey, all at conflict with each other, with motherly nurturing doing battle with streetwise survival. While a little lacking in the explosively inventive action that helped make "District 9" fun as well as intelligent, Sharlto Copley's performance as the titular 'bot steals the whole show (the CGI thoroughly convinces, too). There's a few rough edges to it, and the antagonists need developing, but Chappie is a considerable step up after the clunky, plot-holey, politically simplified "Elysium". Good.

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