Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Film Review: "Chappie" (2015).

From the first trailer, the last lines uttered "I'm consciousness. I'm alive. I'm Chappie" is what Chappie presents in this science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell and based on Blomkamp's 2004 short film Tetra Vaal. The film is set in the near future, where crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

The creation of Chappie began when Blomkamp along with his wife Terri Tatchell, who also co-wrote District 9 (2009) wrote the screenplay during the Post Production phase of Elysium (2013). Filming began at the end of October 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa and was completed in February 2014. Re-shoots took place in British Columbia, Canada in April 2014. The name of the weapons company in the film - Tetravaal - is a reference to Blomkamp's 2004 short film of the same name, which centers on a police robot in Johannesburg with a similar design to Chappie. Blomkamp has said that Chappie is "basically based" on Tetra Vaal. Blomkamp also employed a robot with a similar design in his 2005 short Tempbot, and both Tempbot and his 2006 short/advertisement Yellow deal with a thinking and learning robot which tries to assimilate into society.

The film stars Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, and Watkin Tudor Jones and Yolandi Visser of the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord. The cast gave strong performances though some lacked likability with their respective characters and lacked development and screen time. The first goes to the film's unlikely actors Ninja and Yolandi, though they gave a stable first performances, they however played characters that hogged the spotlight from the rest of the cast and were just ultimately not relatable nor likable. The controversial South African rap-rave duo were both cast due to Blomkamp being a fan of their work and the duo are both fans of Blomkamp's work. Ninja has a District 9 tattoo on his inner lip. Ninja purportedly behaved very poorly on the set, allegedly leading to a complete breakdown of his relationship with the director. The second point goes to Jackman and Weaver, whose characters had so much potential but ultimately suffered because of underdevelopment and lack of screen time. Jackman, in particular, delivered a terrific performance as the film's antagonist. Lastly, who can forget the performance given by Copley as the film's title character. He delivered his best performance yet and rivals Andy Serkis' mo-cap performances.

After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Chappie, along with Elysium, is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp. The film suffers from a misguiding cast and a ridiculous story that only a child-like machine could conjure up. But on its own terms, it delivers just enough Blomkamp-esque visuals to satisfy.

Simon says Chappie receives:

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