by Tony Medley
runtime 112 minutes.
for children 12+.
I have to admit that
this film surprised the heck out of me. I thought it was going to be one
of those Terminator type of action films about robots who could
do just about anything and are horrible.
This ainít that. Oh,
there are lots of robots who do amazing things. And the robots look
astoundingly real. And there is a lot of mayhem.
But this is about a
South African police force that has robotized its force. The bad guys
donít like this. Deon (Dev Patel, the same guy who puts together the
Exotic Marigold Hotel in India) is an artificial intelligence scientist
who is trying to get the robots to be less, well, robotic and more human
with the ability to reason and feel. In short, he wants to give the
robots a human sensitivity. So he creates Chappie from an old beaten up
robot. And the sensitive, confused Chappie is definitely the star of the
To tell anything about
the story other than that would be to diminish its pleasure in seeing it
without knowing whatís going to happen, so thatís all Iím going to say
about the story, except that there are some very bad guys, especially
Vincent (Hugh Jackman), who is a fellow employee of Deonís but is trying
to worm his way into the confidence of boss Michelle Bradley (Sigourney
Weaver) so he can use his super-robot.
Also appearing as bad guys
who interrelate with Chappie are South African rappers Ninja and
Yo-Landl Visser who appear as characters using their real names.
Whatís really movie
magic is the way Chappie was created by the filmmakers. The role was
played by Sharito Copley (and I think he deserves an Oscarģ nomination
even though we never see him). He acted the role in all the scenes
filmed with the other actors. But he wore a special lycra outfit that
allowed technicians in post-production to use performance capture
techniques to paint him out and the robot in mimicking Copleyís actual
movements. The result is so realistic it's magical.
a unique take on the action/robot genre by director Neill Blomkamp, who
is no stranger to this type of film (District 9). Heís going down
a different path here and it looks like a good one. Whether or not he
intended it, the film seemed to have serious sub-themes about
sensitivity to personal identity and the ability to take control of
one's own existence.
Regardless, this is a movie that has a lot of action but is still
appealing and humorous at the same time, especially if you don't take it