Chappie (Movie Review)

I shouldn’t see this scene and think “meh”. I really shouldn’t.

Leave it to me to devote an entire post to a grandiose announcement of things to come, and then post nothing but filler for a week. Ah, well, what’re you gonna do?

On Friday, I went to see Chappie, the third movie from Neill Blomkamp, and number 10 on my “Most Anticipated of 2015” list. Keep my high expectations in mind as I proceed to demolish this movie.


Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

Produced by: Simon Kinberg

Written by: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

Based on: Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp (Short film)

Genre: Science fiction

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yolandi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman

Music by: Hans Zimmer

Plot: Johannesburg, South Africa of the near future. Crime is out of control and the police are in over their heads.

In direct contrast to the Johannesburg we know and love today.

Thankfully, weapons manufacturers come to the rescue, as they are known to do, as a corporation named Tetravaal invents the world’s first-ever robotic police force, which absolutely demolishes most of the city’s crime (And yet, criminals still do pretty much whatever they want and Tetravaal workers can be kidnapped right outside the factory. Huh). However, the designer of the robots (Dev Patel) wants to experiment with new Artificial Intelligence software that would allow the robots to feel emotions and have opinions. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he installs the software into a damaged robot (Voiced by Sharlto Copley). Unfortunately, this robot (Dubbed “Chappie”) falls into the hands of some local scumbags (Ninja, Yolandi Visser and Jose Pablo Cantillo) and the childlike Johnny 5/Bugs Bunny hybrid’s future is out into serious jeopardy.

Neill Blomkamp is a name that has been getting more and more recognition within the geek community as the director of the contemporary sci-fi classic that is District 9 and Elysium, one of the most thoroughly okay movies that I’ve ever seen. as well as the director of the upcoming fifth installment in the Alien franchise. Blomkamp’s gritty direction is surprisingly well-suited for the high concept science fiction that he specializes in, and there are moments throughout Chappie where his skill shines through. The CGI and special effects are terrific, especially the effects for Chappie and the other robots, who look breathtakingly lifelike, which I suppose is to be expected from the guy who did the aliens in District 9.

Fooking prawn!!!

When there are action scenes, Blomkamp directs them very well, which, in hindsight, kinda strikes me as a frustrating tease, but c’est la vie.

There are a couple performances that stand out among the rest (More on that later). Dev Patel is very solid as Chappie’s creator, making me wonder once again why in the hell he doesn’t get more work (He even managed to be mostly functional in The Last Airbender, a feat that deserves much praise on its own), but the real standout is Sharlto Copley as the voice and motion capture for the title character. Among all the forgettable or downright detestable characters in this mess of a movie, the one enjoyable, energetic constant is Chappie, who I know would be a joy to watch under the right circumstances.

As much as I did kind of hate this film, I can’t really fault it for existing, if that makes any sense at all. I mentioned in my “Most Anticipated” list that I thought that Chappie kinda looks like a Steven Spielberg movie, which, I admit, had me pretty excited. I really liked the idea of seeing this childlike robot grow up in a rough part of Jo-burg, learning about people and human nature in general. Not only did I not get that, I’m not particularly sure how to describe what I got any other way except “A robot hanging out with a bunch of unlikable scumbags for two hours. Shenanigans ensue.”

If the movie had stuck to the education of Chappie, which had proven early on in the film to be a strong suit, it would have been a whole hell of a lot more entertaining than the actual end result, which didn’t amount to much more than Chappie learning about the joys of petty crime and macho posturing under the tutelage of a hip-hop/rave duo. Ugh.

Speaking of said hip-hop/rave duo, they’re called Die Antwoord (“The Answer” in Afrikaans) and they’re composed of Ninja and Yolandi (Who play the characters of Ninja and Yolandi. Cryptic, I know) and, as you may expect from two people who haven’t acted prior to this movie, they aren’t very good, although they don’t embarrass themselves and they do try, I’ll give them that.

They were better than Jodie Foster in Elysium, believe it or not.

Die Antwoord’s music plays quite frequently throughout the film and is,along with Hans Zimmer’s score, another strong point of the film (Keep in mind, this is coming from somebody who has spent a large portion of his life claiming that rave music is literally worse than Hitler), though the frequency that their music is played can feel like shameless self-promotion a lot of the time (Especially when the characters actually wear Die Antwoord merchandise). Eh, at least it’s not as blatantly obvious as the product placement for PlayStation 4 that occurs at one point. Not to cast the first stone, but you don’t see Nintendo pulling that shit.

Well, not anymore, at least.

Aside from Patel and Copley, none of the actors are particularly good, but a lot of the blame for that should probably be laid at the feet of the writing. Besides Chappie, these characters are garbage. Dev Patel’s character isn’t interesting, Ninja and Yolandi (The characters, obviously, not the actual people) are unlikable scumbags (Though they can apparently do a complete personality 180 at the drop of a hat), America (Ninja and Yolandi’s companion, played ably by Jose Pablo Cantillo) is a completely useless character, Sigourney Weaver is wasted on a generic, amoral corporate character, and Hugh Jackman- Alright, let me just go on a little bit about Hugh Jackman’s character.

I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan and, as far as performances go, this one isn’t the worst, but this character is absolute dogshit. There’s nothing interesting about him at all and the only flimsy reason for his existence is to move the plot along whilst fitting every single generic villain trope possible. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, no personality other than “angry” and “Australian”, and you wonder why he’s in law enforcement if he’s willing to kill hundreds of innocents just so his fucking ED-209 clone gets authorized by Sigourney Weaver. There’s nothing substantial or entertaining about him, and it’s a travesty that an Oscar-nominated actor could be wasted on such an empty character.

Subtlety has never really been Neill Blomkamp’s strong point. If District 9 was about as subtle an apartheid allegory as a sledgehammer to the face, Elysium was about as subtle a commentary on inequality as a blow from that hammer that King Dedede uses in Super Smash Bros. 

Yeah, that one.

But as blunt as those two movies were about their respective agendas, at least Blomkamp found a somewhat inventive way to get his message across. Chappie tries to delve not so much into political issues, but into philosophical and moral ones, and in the process, I think it becomes a little too subtle, to the point where it loses sight of what it wanted to say in the first place. At one point, the film does try to say something about the duplicity and nastiness of human nature, and, it’s alright, whatever, but it seems out of place. Put it this way: I should never have to say that The Fifth Element did it better. The Fifth Element did a similar message in a much more better and entertaining way.

The Fifth Element: Great movie, or greatest movie?

I feel like it could’ve worked a lot better if, again, they had just made a movie about Chappie learning to be human, and not so much, y’know, what the movie turned out to be.

Overall: Chappie could’ve been great, and, when it’s potential shines through it’s pretty solid, but those moments are few and far between, and in the meantime, what we’re left with is mostly crap.

Rating: 4.5/10

“Well, you can bite me, fuck-mother.”

Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Godammit, do I ever love lists!!!

So, it’s that time of the year again. The time when we groggily emerge from our holiday hangovers and start getting back to the drudgery that constitutes our everyday lives, be it through working at a dead-end job, slaving away at school, or being a parent. The fact that, with January now here to stay for a bit, we don’t have much movies to escape to, doesn’t help either.

Unless you’re really looking forward to seeing Jennifer Lopez in The Boy Next Door.

But, tumultuous first months of the year aside, there are still a lot of movies to look forward to in 2015. The following are the ones that I’m looking forward to the most (And, by extension, the ones you should be looking forward to the most).  Just a heads-up, any movie that did not have some form of North American release in 2014 is not included on this list. With that out of the way…

10. Chappie

If the robot dies, I’m going to be a total fucking wreck.

Neill Blomkamp is one of the more promising sci-fi directors working today, having released the great apartheid commentary that was District 9, which ended up overcoming its August release date and sci-fi label en route to a Best Picture nomination, and Elysium, which… Was a comedown, for sure, but it wasn’t bad, despite Jodie Foster’s best efforts.

English? French? South African? Hell if I know.

 Chappie definitely looks to be a touch more… Spielbergian than his other movies, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it means that the movie ends up feeling more like E.T. and less like A.I. The movie is based on a short film directed by Blomkamp named Tetra Vaalis written by Blomkamp and his wife, Terri Tatchell, and boasts an impressive, eclectic cast, comprising Wolverine, Ripley, Slumdog Millionaire, two members of the South African rave group Die Antwood, and frequent Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley as the eponymous robot. It seems to have everything going for it so far. Here’s hoping District 9 wasn’t just a fluke. I, for one, have hope.

9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2

What? You expected Divergent?

A lot of people didn’t like the first Mockingjay movie. I am not one of them, although I did feel like it suffered from being split in half. Hopefully, all the tense build-up in the first movie leads up to something, because if it doesn’t, man is that ever going to make a lot of the pacing problems in the first movie less forgivable.

It’s probably gonna be better than Divergent 2 or whatever. At least we can all agree on that.

Fact: I’ve never read a book in the Divergent series, and I haven’t watched the first movie, so don’t mind my snarkiness, I’m just being a dick.

8. Jurassic World

The face of highly-intelligent, avian-descended, scientifically inaccurate terror.


7. Spectre


“Now there’s a name to die for.”

Fun fact: The first James Bond movie I ever watched was Quantum of Solace. Yeah. Even then I knew that shit sucked. But then I watched Skyfall and Goldfinger, so I think that cancels it out, at least mostly.

So, why am I excited for this movie, despite not being a huge James Bond fan? Well, Christoph Waltz, mostly, but also Cristoph Waltz. However, one must not forget about Christoph Waltz, Christoph Waltz and Christoph Waltz. And don’t even get me started on Christoph Waltz.

6. The Peanuts Movie

Pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebe goodpleasebegood…

Huh. Two Pixar movies coming out this year, and the animated movie I’m most looking forward to is a movie from Blue Sky Studios.

Need I say more?

I grew up with the comic strip and the old cartoons, so I really hope that this movie can do justice to Charles Schulz’s legacy, and the trailers were pretty awesome, contemporary pop song notwithstanding. Then again, the only good movie that Blue Sky Studios has ever made is Ice Age way the hell back in 2002, so forgive me if I’m still a little nervous.

5. Ant-Man

View image on Twitter

Pre-Guardians of the GalaxyAnt-Man!? What the fuck. Marvel’s running out of ideas, this is fucking bullshit!!!” Post-Guardians: “Ant-Man? Seems legit.”

No Edgar Wright? No problem!

Okay, in all seriousness, the problems behind the production of Ant-Man are a little worrying, and the trailer wasn’t as mind-blowing as… Another one, but at this point, I think that Marvel’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

4. The Revenant

Combined Oscar wins: 0. Combined Oscar wins in a perfect world: All of them.

For my money, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman was the best movie of this past year. The same director with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy doing his bidding? I’m getting manic just thinking about it, and we’re only at number four.

3. The Hateful Eight

I can already feel my bloodlust overwhelming me.

Quentin Tarantino is my favourite director and screenwriter, so if I was manic for The Revenant, you can bet your ass that I’m balls-to-the-wall insane with application for this movie.

2. Avengers: Age of Ultron

I’ve got no strings to hold me down… From seeing this movie!!! Play me off, Johnny!!!

You may have heard of it.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I know, shocking right?

Wow. It’s 2015, and we’re going to get a new Star Wars movie. Who’da thunk it?

With my luck, it’s going to end up even worse than the Phantom Menace.