Chappie full movie review - A brilliantly convoluted rip-off of I, Robot (2004) meets Robocop (1987)
Reviewed July 26th, 2015, 1st viewing (BR rental)
The film presents a novel concept that we have seen done before in such variations as I, Robot and Robocop, and only remains 'unique' on one particular front. It is misleading in both its 'original' premise and exceptional cast, only serving to fail where it promised to lead. Most everything professed to be unique and innovative is quite overtly copied or modified from a prior sci-fi film in the same vein, namely Robocop (1987) and I, Robot (2004), a feat particularly distressing coming from Neill Blomkamp (writer/director) after producing such original pieces as District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013). The worst part is that the filmmakers did so with little evidence of shame or remorse for their indiscretion.
I am a bit perplexed as to the exact purpose of such character writing, with none of them following hard-fast archetypes?a choice that can be both good and bad. Deon Wilson (played by Dev Patel) is the Lead Researcher at Tetravaal, the company supplying the local police force with the new drone robots, referred to as Scouts. In addition to this breakthrough, he is working to create artificial intelligence. His rival, Vincent (Hugh Jackman), an ex-military type with a much-larger military-grade robot operated by a helmet, is so hell-bent on seeing his creation lead the police force, he somehow has clearance to access the program that runs the Scouts even though its an entirely different project that he neither possesses the expertise or prior experience to deal with. He effectively sabotages the Scouts, and requests the CEO (Sigourney Weaver) initiate his program as a countermeasure.
The proverbial 'baddies' in the film are broken off into two factions, both not-so-coincidentally resembling early 90s-era cyberpunks akin to that of (you guessed it!)?Robocop (1987). The first is comprised of Ninja, Yolandi, and Amerika, and the second is an entire gang led by Hippo, some razor-cut guy punk whose English sounds more like gibberish, so much so that it has to be captioned (another feigned attempt at humor I suppose?).
Ninja's group decide the only way they can get out from under Hippo's boot is to kidnap Deon and force him to shut down all the Scouts with a 'remote' they in all their wisdom decide he must have since all technology works with remotes? When Deon informs them it's not possible, the only thing that saves him is their discovery of his rejected robot in the van. When pressed, he decides to reveal to these thugs who were two seconds from murdering him all the intel they need to know regarding what he needs to do to test the A.I. program and the only way the drones can have their software modified. See anything wrong with this picture??
Naturally, the plot holes abound, unraveling from start to finish. Tetravaal's unique unhackable design implemented for the Scouts is a nothing more than ONE unique key USB drive kept under 'lock-and-key' that apparently most members of the staff have access to? Furthermore, all common sense and logic beg the question?why exactly would an artificial intelligence be created as a 'blank slate' that had to be taught everything including language? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of artificial INTELLIGENCE? And then we're supposed to believe that he's taught language, how to drive, combat skills, et al, in the course of a few days?
To add insult to injury, this revolutionary company that has created the world's most advanced robots and is on the verge of discovering sentient life apparently has the worst security protocols in history, allowing employees to come and go with their advanced tech and weapons as they please. And then when they find out Deon ran off the with USB key, he merely gets a phone call from security advising him to return it by night's end?! It's no wonder the company wound up in the tank. To add insult to injury, later on when they discover someone disabled all the Scouts remotely IN HOUSE, the police enter Tetravaal en force, and instead of locking the place down to interrogate anyone on the premises at that time of night, they just let Vincent walk right on by. I found myself struggling to wrap my brain around how criminals that had evaded a robotic police force could be so stupid, allowing their kidnap victim to leave after almost murdering him and stealing tech. On top of that, we're to believe that the man who just successfully created artificial intelligence would leave his 'newborn' creation in the hands of those thugs to teach it??
The script itself seemed to pander to a certain core audience, leaving the majority of us with functional brains to feel belittled and under-appreciated. Despite the plethora of issues, the film brilliantly succeeded in some regard, allowing the audience to feel for Chappie as he was literally thrown into the cruel world. Both the practical and special effects were amazing, allowing you to view Chappie as a living being. The score was instrumental in lending gravity to the emotional scenes, however they were quickly forgotten by the horrid techno-punk tracks thrown into the mix at random, again feeling like a cheap ploy to market to the 16-25 age bracket.
I cannot quite fathom how the brilliant mind that produced District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013) could have concocted such a conglomeration of an artistic failure. I am wholly convinced this film's rating/positive reviews have been sustained by fans of the director, turning a blind eye to the obvious issues in remembrance of his previous work. Another user correctly described this as 'beautifully stupid'. Surely nonsensical and disappointment do not begin to cover it.
My only conclusion is that the people who rated this 8/9/10s have already had their consciousness uploaded to their Chevy Volts and left their toasters to do the thinking?
3.5 out of 10.0