This, is the first movie, in a damn long time, which it is actually better than its trailer and miscellaneous promotional attempts.
I was mislead into thinking that this is another iRobot flick, discussing about what it means to be ‘alive’ and ‘aware’, or one of those ‘droids gone bad’ situation, but it really isn’t.
I was pleasantly surprised that it was a lot more complex and an emotional mind-fuck.
Unlike most sentient robot movies, Chappie IS the main character of the story. It may have a slightly messy plot (who cares nowadays anyway), there is some really smart and provocative ideas about Chappie’s Artificial Intelligience.
The story is set in present day South Africa, introducing RoboCop style “WORLD’S FIRST ROBOTIC POLICE FORCE” to enforce law and order in the otherwise unruly cop-killing city of Johannesburg.
The robots are invented and manufactured by am arms company which is lead by the headstrong Michelle Bradley, played by the one an only Sy-Fy heroine Sigourney Weaver. The main employees in this story is the cliche geek who is idealistic Deon, played by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame, and the psychotic, trigger-happy Vincent, who is shockingly played by Hugh Jackman, in his first major villain role.
The main character is the delightful Chappie, played by South African actor Sharlto Copley, who was the guy who introduced me to my first South African accent. Chappie is the one and only special robot that was programmed by Deon, who is the dreamer yearning to create robots with human consciousness (and yes, what is consciousness???).
Chappie is like a child. He had to learn everything like humans do, but with exceptional speed of progress. He is of good nature at heart, but is in danger of falling into bad influence, when he is stolen from Deon by a gangsters (with the most style) in preparation for a heist.
It was heart-wrenching to see Chappie torn between the nurturing Deon and the stylish gangsters who try to teach him how to shoot guns and their gangster lean.
But the director, Neill Blomkamp plays artfully on our emotions, making us feel attached to the robot as we watch him grow and be morally conflicted. Eventually, even the gangsters took to a liking to Chappie, and became their badass adoptive parents.
The gangsta adoptive parents are none other than the real-life South African rappers Yolandi Vi$$er and Watkin Tudor-Jones aka NINJA. I liked their gangsta shed the most, because of its bubble-gum punk deco reminiscent of the SIMS games. It was weird, because halfway-through, the movie got me rooting for the bad guys who turned into the good guys. Whereas the ‘good guy’ played by Hugh Jackman, lived long enough to turn into the saboteur and trigger-happy Aussie (weird, cos I thought it was the Americans who were the stereotyped ones). I am also quite disappointed in his character, because I expected more complexity in his character, especially given the acting calibre of Jackman.
Stay tuned to the solution to how humans may have found the key to immortality by our homeboy Chappie.
The biggest highlight of the movie, is the use of a complete Electronic (plus a little Rap) film score for an action film. No surprise here, given the Sy-Fy themes. It gives an illusion of the future.
Catch Chappie in the theatres now, because not only will I pay for it on weekends, I will buy a blue-ray when it is out. It is definitely one movie that will be a classic in years to come.
It is also very obvious that there will be a franchise lurking around soon.
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