Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), this wonderful gritty depiction of a robot trying to make sense of the world around him, takes us on a journey of self-discovery and the harsh reality of the human condition. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa in the near future, robotics has taken over the security and police force to tackle the rapidly increasing crime wave in the city. These sophisticated and effective robotic, dubbed ‘Scouts’, have no fear and no emotion in order to handle any situation that is deemed criminal. The company Tetrovaal spearheads the mass production of these technologically advance robotics for the police. Deon Wilson is the creator of the Scouts. Played by Dev Patel, he gives Deon a personality of a wildly enthusiastic genius trying to improve his invention. But unfortunately there are some people who block his ambitions of moving forward to create a fully operational artificial intelligence with a soul. Sigourney Weaver plays the CEO of Tetravaal, Michelle Bradley, who is one of them. She is afraid of the backlash and consequences if we give the robots a mind of their own. Vincent Moore is another character who wants Deon’s creation to fail so that his own invention, the Moose, can thrive in the battle of urban police work. Hugh Jackman who plays Vincent gives him a personality that resembles a brooding, bullish, whiny brat that doesn’t play well with others. He looks like my old gym teacher back in high school. He sports a tight mullet, and wears shirts that are two sizes too small.
When Deon gets turn down by the CEO, Michelle, from going forward with giving the Scouts sentient life, he takes it upon himself to do it anyway. Chappie is born from a busted old Scout. Sharlto Chopley who voices Chappie uses motion capture technology to give him an extremely life-like human quality. It is amazing watching him on screen. Chappie encounters a group of local criminals that want to use him to help them pull several criminal acts. Because his A.I. is a learning computer, he learns how to talk, walk, and shoot like a criminal. Some of the scenes with him and these criminals are pretty hilarious. These criminals, Ninja, Yolandi, and Amerika give this film a sense of surrealism, and wackiness. The female character, Yolandi gives Chappie the love and nurture it needs to feel compassion. She is the heart and soul of this ragtag band of criminals. Ninja is the hardcore badass [email protected]#$$ of the group and needs to do whatever it takes to keep them alive. Amerika is just the muscle, but he also begins to warm up to Chappie. Their way of talking is somewhat weird to listen to because the accent is South Afrikana, but I like their personality and how they treat Chappie. Even though they are criminals, you feel for them because they have to do some questionable things to survive.
Hugh Jackman’s character, Vincent, is a driven son of a bitch. His ruthlessness towards anybody who gets in his way is down right nasty. I always saw Hugh’s characters like Wolverine as the antihero, but in this film he takes his sunny brooding reputation and throws it down the toilet when you see him as Vincent. His performance is not stellar, but it does the trick in defining him as the villain of the film. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in more adversarial roles in the future.
The performance from the cast captures the essence of human arrogance, flaws, and creativity. This film teaches us that even though we have the capacity and ability to create life, where do we draw the line? Are we ready for artificial intelligence? This movie takes various parts from the old classics like Frankenstein, A.I., Blade Runner, and even Star Trek:TNG to tickle our curiosity and deal with whatever the consequences may be.
This film has many traits to become a classic. It has action, heart, humor, and a message for our future. I love this film. I love the fact that it is done with grit, vulgarity, and a sense of humor. The action sequences are a little extreme, but that is okay. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The special effects with Chappie and the motion capture technology are phenomenal and should be nominated for an Oscar. I give this film three and a half out of five movie stubs.