Fans of Neil Blomkamp rejoice, another tale has arisen to slap us in the face about the pessimistic place the world is. This time his vision is in the form of a robot, who obtains artificial intelligence that will, as always, revolutionize the world. While we all know the usual consequences of this motion, you never know what twists Blomkamp’s movies will have. Thus for this movie called Chappie, the trailers may have you…
Expect: A dark, cynical tale about how humans suck, action, and something weird will happen.
What you get:
Blomkamp has an obsession with darker films, as seen in District 9 and Elysium. Chappie from the start brings out that darkness, plopping us in the middle of civil unrest and death as war breaks out between thugs and the robotic police force. For nearly two hours, this darkness continues to grow as we are subjugated to heavy dialog that begins to question the roles and responsibilities of humans. Why is this dark you ask? Because Blomkamp chooses to address the negative side of things, often emphasizing the less attractive qualities of greed, anger, jealousy, and arrogance to a fault. We get it humans suck, how many times do you have to deliver the same message? His efforts to further analyze the flaws of humanity are further exaggerated by panoramic shots of shacks and grime filled buildings, as well as curse laden dialog. I indeed did feel some of the message, but the movie went too far on some of the characters that I grew annoyed or laughed at the ridiculous direction the film took. Some of the scenes were a bit too much for me at times, especially the bouts of torture or slander that Chappie, the one ray of hope in this movie, had to endure. His innocence was supposed to offset the darkness, but Blomkamp and crew quickly washed that away and left me more depressed than anything.
I think the darkness was further enhanced by the impressive editing the team did on the movie. In particular Chappie was animated beautifully, his detail and movements flowing without flaw. The robot is human all on his own, and shows the gullible side of our selves, in particular when we are children aiming to please. Throw in the gut wrenching orchestra work and the sadness and dismay of the plot continues to unfold and leave you a little morbid at being humans. His message is clear we need to take action, but come on a little more happiness could have gone a long way.
Action wise the movie follows the same formula his previous installments have. The movie starts out with pedal to the medal shootout excitement to help establish how Chappie comes to be. However the adrenaline quickly ebbs as the ethical discussions begin and we are left to sit through about an hour and half of dialogue before the next bout of fighting begins. The end game is not quite as exhilarating though, the epic shoot out turning more bloodbath and bang as our cast of characters are tortured. Again darkness seems to be the calling of this tale, and the action is not spared of the honed, ruthless edge of blood and death. The scenes are also melodramatic as well, the actors falling in cascades of slow motion screaming and running. I wasn’t impressed with the promise the trailers held, but again you never know with Blomkamp.
As for the weird factor… well the entire movie is pretty much weird. The artificial intelligence angle has been played a bunch of times, but this one is a bit weird in terms of Chappie thinking the humans are its parents. Another twist was discussing the nature of consciousness and its involvement in making us human. You’ll find this is centered once again around death, and is relayed to what a soul is. Such concepts may be a little too much for some audience members, and I admit leads to some very “interesting” albeit philosophical paths. You will find that the ending is very similar to some other big blockbuster plots. I can say that the ending provides some light at the end of the dark tunnel, but it also leaves it on an ambiguous note as well, most likely to open for another potential sequel.
I can say Chappie is a very well produced movie, with fantastic special effects, animation, and a reassessment of humanity. Yet the cynical approach to this movie left me depressed, which when combined with the morbid dialog bored me at times. This film is definitely an artistic, with much symbology and passion captured on screen, but I still look for more entertainment in my movies. So who can I recommend this movie to? I will definitely recommend this film to fans of District 9 and Elysium, as well as those who like a dark approach to their science fiction movies. In addition if you like having a philosophical blow out during a movie, again I recommend this. Otherwise, skip this film and wait for next weekend’s releases as they hold more promise.
My scores for this movie are: