If you were to see Chappie knowing nothing about it but what you saw in the first trailer, you would be surprised. What seems like a movie that was aimed at pre teens was truly shown in its second trailer: an R rated sci-fi adventure. The result is truly disastrous.
The movie seemed intriguing to me, in that it was directed by Neill Blomkamp. While I never saw his last film, Elysium (with Matt Damon), I was a big fan of District 9. That film I still feel is one of the best Sci-Fi flicks of the 21st Century (I would argue it is even better than Avatar, which came out in the same year). That movie even felt like I was playing a sweet first person shooter video game.
However, I need to talk about Chappie. Set in the very near future of Johannesburg (the same place as District 9), the movie starts out with interviews like District 9. I felt a little let down, as if Blomkamp did not strive for originality. Basically, crime in the city has been reduced a lot due to Robot Police Officers. They were made by Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), who wants to know if a robot could have a conscience (despite this great technology, Wilson’s home seems to have been invaded by the 1980s). As he discovers the secret, he is kidnapped by thugs (two of whom are called there real life names, Ninja and Yolandi). They need money to pay off a gangster (Brando Auret, who needs subtitles, although I could understand him without them). Wilson tries to help by making Chappie from spare parts of a broken police robot.
It is here that I mention perhaps my biggest (of many) problems. Characters like Chappie are made for us to like them and eventually love them (maybe even go “Awe” over). The character of Chappie seems to be FORCED upon us to like him. It is one thing to say “Here is our character, we hope you learn to love him.” It is quiet another to say “LOVE OUR CHARACTER! NOW!”
These characters are hard to love. Am I supposed to like Chappie and laugh when Ninja is teaching him to be a “gangsta”, or be repulsed? This whole movie seems like it was submitted as a first draft.
The film also stars Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore, an employee of the company that makes the robots. He is upset that his boss (Sigourney Weaver) picked Wilson’s design over his. There are two reasons for this. The first is because he calls it the “Moose”. The second is, when you see this thing on screen, you will notice that no human being would ever authorize it past the blue print stage.
Parents, there is one scene of nudity, but it is not sexual and so brief I almost did not notice (it is on a TV in the background and lasts half a second at most). The swearing is another matter: it was all over. There is violence, some graphic, but mainly, it is the swearing. I would say High School is ok.
I was sitting next to a father who brought his son who could not have been more than 6 or 7. I guess I can’t blame him if he brought his son because they saw the first trailer. Still, I felt even worse than I knew this kid was not only seeing an R rated movie, but a movie that was not nourishing to him or anyone in the audience of any age.
As the movie progressed, I thought of a word to best describe the film. Here is a hint to the word: it rhymes with Chappie.
Overall: 1 Star *