FILM REVIEW: CHAPPIE (15)
SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: SHARLTO COPLEY, DEV PATEL, HUGH JACKMAN, NINJA, YOLANDI VISSER, JOSE PABLO CANTILLO, BRANDON AURET & SIGOURNEY WEAVER
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS
DIRECTOR: NEILL BLOMKAMP
Oh, things change quickly in the world of film.
Despite some interesting ideas, Chappie doesn’t really mesh together to form a coherent filmReview by Gavin Miller
One minute you’re the ‘Golden Boy’ with a highly-acclaimed breakthrough release like District 9, which then gives you enough grace with producers after your next film (Elysium) underwhelms – but what if you third film bombs?
That’s exactly what has happened with Neill Blomkamp’s third near-future sci-fi thriller Chappie – and that comes just a week after he was given the Alien 5 gig (Sigourney Weaver actually stars in this). Yep, this has opened poorly Stateside – despite a very interesting trailer – and it’s not hard to see why.
Blomkamp undoubtedly has a keen eye for sci-fi with an engaging visual style and some intriguing ideas, but just like with Elysium (which is actually better than this), this simply isn’t a patch on District 9, and shows that narratively the South African director has some noticeable shortcomings – highlighted by the talents of Weaver, Hugh Jackman and Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel being sorely underutilised.
Tonally the film is all-over-the-place and ends up being a cross between Robocop and Short Circuit – without being as good as either of them – and despite an encouraging premise ends up a bit of a mess.
Fortunately District 9’s lead Sharlto Copley is the best thing about it, as he stars as the title character – an android with a conscience called Chappie – via his voice talent and the superb use of motion-capture animatronics, and it’s this character you’ll root for the most, particularly when he gets bullied.
With crime patrolled by a robotic police force on the streets of South African city Johannesburg – supplied by arms company CEO Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) –inventor Deon Wilson (Patel) is still looking to go beyond this and produce the first robot with an artificial intelligence, and steals a battered android to run tests on it.
But he gets kidnapped by a group of drug pushers – which includes the passable South African rap-rave duo of Ninja and Yolandi Visser – who have a large debt to pay, and order Wilson to program this robot (which becomes Chappie) for their own criminal means.
In the meantime, disgruntled ex-soldier and military employee Vincent Moore (Jackman) has found his own ED-209-alike robotic menace called the ‘Moose’ sidelined – and connivingly uses Wilson’s new creation as a way to bring his own invention to the fore.
But despite some interesting ideas, Chappie doesn’t really mesh together to form a coherent film, and – despite Copley’s best efforts – ends up as a major disappointment, even though the ending just about provides a passable pay-off. Fortunately Blomkamp has shown enough promise to potentially make something special with the Alien franchise – but he shouldn’t be a happy Chappie with this underachievement.