Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, ANd Views Are My Game!
Imagine if a 9-year-old Michael Bay read Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, and then decided to make a movie out of it using the camera he got for his birthday. Except, instead of setting it in Italy, and having it be about a talking marionette who wants to become a real boy, he had it take place in Johannesburg, and made it about robot jack-rabbits and White gangster-wannabes trying to pull a heist. If you can imagine the resulting picture, then you’ll have a fairly good idea of what to expect with Chappie, the latest film from South African director Neil Blomkamp.
Now, before I discuss this picture any further, I just want to make a few things ABUNDANTLY clear to you all.
1. This is NOT a good movie.
2. You should NOT waste your money on it.
& 3. I’d give it an overall rating of 5 OUT OF 10.
There! Now that that’s all said and done, I think I can proceed.
Anyway, Chappie has been advertised as many things–a touching drama about an outsider wanting to be accepted, a searing indictment of increasingly militaristic police forces, a meditation on what it means to be alive and have consciousness —none of which it is. what it is, in reality, is a loud, violent, poorly-acted, special-effects-laden thriller that moves at break-neck speed, and has absolutely no character development. Now, to be fair, it is rather difficult to have character development in a 2 hour movie, which has no less than 6 protagonists, all of whom have an equal amount of screen time. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy watching a group of cardboard cutouts awkwardly stumble from one action set piece to another. But what’s even more frustrating than this is the fact that this film actually has a fairly good premise, and some pretty interesting ideas. What would it be like if a robot could think and feel? What if we could download our personalities and consciences onto a computer? How would the public react if order was maintained by an entirely non-human police force? Alas, all of these ideas are either overlooked or barely touched upon in this movie. To give you all a better idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll try to explain the plot.
In the year 2016, the government of Johannesburg, in an attempt to combat the rising crime rate, hires the weapons manufacturer Tetra Vaal to create an entirely robotic police force. For some reason, these robots end up looking like mechanical versions of Bugs Bunny, but that’s not important. What is important is that the creator of these robots, Deon–played by Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel–dreams of building a machine that can think and feel. Deciding to test if such a thing is even possible, he takes a robot that’s been slated for demolition back to his house to experiment on it. However, before he can get there, he is kidnapped and robbed by three petty criminals–Ninja, Yolandi, and America. (And yes, before you ask, those are their actual names.) Anyway, these White African Wiggers have abducted Deon because they’ve become in debt to a gangster, who looks like John Travolta’s character in Battlefield Earth, and they now need a robot to help them pull off this crazy heist that will, supposedly, put them in the clear. However, they don’t know how to operate machines, and so they need Deon to create a robot that will do whatever they say. (This is ironic because, after making such a big point of showing how technologically challenged they are, the movie later has them re-building and repairing robots, and doing complicated things on computers like it’s nobody’s business. Continuity? Nah! That’s for dummies!) Anyway, Deon repairs the robot in his car, and thus gives birth to the world’s first thinking machine, whom Yolandi later names Chappie. What follows is a good hour of shouting, hitting, shooting, car theft, street riots, and all around randomness as everybody tries to yank him in a different direction. And as if all this weren’t confusing enough, we’ve also got Hugh Jackman playing a generically evil military contractor, who’s upset because his psychically-controlled tank robot didn’t get chosen by the Johannesburg Police Department. For some reason, this makes him want to kidnap Chappie and cut off his arm. (They never really explain why he does this, but you learn to stop questioning this film after a while.)
Anyway, in the end, the movie climaxes with a giant gun fight in the middle of Jo-Burg’s ghettos, where nearly all the major characters get shot. In another film, you might feel sad at seeing so many people die, but, as I said before, there are too many characters in this movie, and you don’t ever get a feel for who they are. You understand their motivations, to be sure–Deon wants to build a new type of robot, the Criminals want to pay off the gangster, Hugh Jackman wants to show off his machine–but you never learn anything else about them. You don’t know where they come from. You don’t know what they like or dislike. You therefore don’t feel anything when one of them gets axed off. And no, before you ask, the special effects aren’t good enough to cover up the movie’s weaker plot elements. This is just a dumb sci-fi movie that squandered its potential with rushed pacing and idiotic action. Unless you’d like to watch a robotic Roger Rabbit team up with South Africa’s version of Vanilla Ice to steal some cars, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, go see this film! It’ll be an absolute waste of your time!