After being kidnapped by two criminals during birth, Chappie becomes the adopted son in a strange and dysfunctional family. Chappie is preternaturally gifted, one of a kind, a prodigy. He also happens to be a robot.
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Three films into his oeuvre and I can't shake the sense that Neill Blomkamp makes movies about ideas rather than people. "Chappie" is lovingly designed within an inch of its life - here you'll find shades of Verhoeven's "Robocop" and the anime "Appleseed" by way of Johannesburg - but the characters lack autonomy, the script merely moving them along the necessary track in order to set up an ultra-violent climax.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Parts Robocop, Short Circuit and District 9, Chappie starts off interestingly enough but the first hour gets sort of stale quickly. Despite some lapses in logic the last act is worthwhile and the ending goes where I didn't expect it to. Probably the weakest on Blomkamp's resume. Sigourney Weaver doesn't have much to work with and Hugh Jackman comes off like an asshole version of Steve Irwin.
If the film had been inspired as its last 20 minutes this could have been something special to behold. Instead for the better part of two hours we have a weird mix of 'Wall-E', 'Robocop' and bloody Jar Jar Binks. Technically well made with some incredible motion capture tech on show but dramatically very weak and misconceived save the dynamite ending. Blomkamp seems to be getting weaker feature to feature.
After the horrid reviews, I expected a dud - but it goes to show that critics are often nothing more than jaded, and certainly not storytellers. Despite the spotty acting (I suspect Blomkamp focuses more on visuals than performances) there was a warm heart beating underneath a dazzling sci-fi shell. One of the most entertaining films to tackle the existential issues of AI in quite some time, and was wholly enjoyable.
Truly stunned how much I enjoyed this. Be aware, it's a messy, scattershot film, mixing about five different genres, but each one gets their moment to shine and it wraps up quite effectively. When you think about all Chappie has to learn, and relate it to growing up, learning, and experiencing a barrage of different influences, it's only natural for this film to have a lot of genres/ideas. Damn fine filmmaking too.