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Chappie: Every Robolancer’s Dream

Credits to imdb.com

While most of you were talking about the new Apple watch or waiting for OS X Yosemite to finish downloading, Deon Wilson, played by the ambitious Dev Patel was building the world’s first artificially intelligent robot.

This recycled plot of artificial intelligence is the focal point of Neill Blomkamp’s third and latest sci-fi thriller, Chappie, starring a child-like Hugh Jackman, an embarrassingly underutilized Sigourney Weaver and two new faces to the American big screen, Yolandi Visser and Ninja from the South African rap group, Die Antwoord.

Sigourney Weaver plays the leader of a major weapons corporation for which engineers Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) and Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) work. When Deon’s robot police design is more of a success than Vincent’s, it drives Vincent into a life of jealousy and desperation. While Vincent is on path to ruin Deon, Deon illegally uses one of the robots to try out his new artificial intelligence program and thus: Chappie was born.

The motivations in the film are weak and the plot progression is laughable which makes the characters appear one-dimensional and does not give the audience any reason to care about what happens to them. The production design, color and set are all amazing and fun to watch, but the pacing of the plot is faster than the droids in the film and does not give the events the proper time to gain meaning; which simply leaves the viewer without any emotional attachment to the scenes. Robots and explosions are always entertaining (except in the abysmalTransformers series), but Chappie’s style and visual flair cannot make up for the huge narrative flaws and overall lack of depth.

There was a cautious anticipation for Chappie due to the writer, director and producer, Neill Blomkamp, who surprised everyone with the memorable District 9, but fell flat with his sophomore slump, Elysium. He is back working with a smaller budget of only $49 million compared to the $115 million budget of Elysium and with Chappie’s 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, it looks like Blomkamp is not moving the right direction. His amateurish mistakes and shortcomings could be forgiven if it were his directorial debut; but being his third major film and having the resources he had, it is inexcusable.

The same criticisms for Elysium can be copy and pasted for Chappie in that the film lost any valuable social commentary that was in District 9 and replaced it with forced humor and flair. In the post Oscar depression and pre-summer blockbuster season, Chappie is without much competition, but avoid it if you are looking for anything more than two hours of visual stimulation.

Sean Flaville (274)
Film Critique

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