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‘Chappie’ review: visionary stupidity



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Very well designed and detailed. Hugh Jackman as antagonist. Copley as Chappie.


Been there, done that. Childish humor. Feels like a District 9 'reboot'. Die Antwoord.

Posted 09/03/2015 by

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Neill Blomkamp surprised the world with his visionary abilities with District 9. Sci-fi is so dependable on a tangible world, and Blomkamp knew how to substantiate that. He even made it to the nominees of The Oscars, including Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. Then followed Elysium, which was as smart as District 9 thematic wise and was way more refined and polished as District 9. But it just didn’t connect like District 9. However, Blomkamp is too much of a visionary to really label is efforts as insufficient. Even though i didn’t feel like that with Elysium, i do feel that with Chappie. The question is; does the good outweigh the bad?

1251623 - Chappie

When Chappie begins it really feels familiar, the documentary style makes it feel very much like District 9. Even though Blomkamp leaves this ‘false’ documentary style very quickly (thankfully), unfortunately this isn’t the only moment where Chappie feels like District 9 recycled. However, even though you expect from a visionary like Blomkamp something new, his settings are so well designed and detailed it’s always kind of enthralling. This is where Blomkamp’s visionarish abilities come in.


Again set in Johannesburg, 2016, robot police forces are a success, the crime rates are lower than ever and thugs keeping their criminal activities low-profile. We meet Scout #22, who has been reckless or unfortunate, and after some altercations on the battlefield, engineer of the Scout program, Deon (Dev Patel), decides to despose of ‘it’. Deon is working on a code in his spare time to make robots to ‘feel’ for themselves. He succeeds, and asks his boss Michelle Bradley (played by under-untilized Sigourney Weaver) if he can test it on scout #22.

She rather continues making money and doesn’t give him any permission, so Deon goes against her will and does it anyway. Chappie is born, fate puts him in a very uncomfortable situation and he is forced to leave him with Ninja and Yolandi (portrayed by the South-African rap formation Die Antwoord). They are not bad but they take away too much focus, and their appearance make Chappie feel like a stereotype. They were also behaving hell-ish on set, so that makes their appearance exchangable. The technology Deon invented makes a human child of Chappie, because he is more human than robot, that results in some awkward childish humor and genre cliches that doesn’t Chappie any good. Hugh Jackman is hilarious as antagonist though.


So Chappie has a lot of conflicts, a lot of elements are really all or nothing. Every very good thing about Chappie has a very bad thing to deal with. Blomkamp did an encore with Chappie, and however he changes it up a little bit with it’s thematics it’s design, it does feel like a flawed encore on District 9. Hans Zimmer delivers a wonderful score, in my opinion, even one of his best yet. Blomkamp is too much of a visionary to strike out and i am really looking forward to his Alien 5, and with Ridley Scott as producer, you know he will not be able to reproduce his conciousness to another vessel.

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Breaking through cinema one movie at a time. Aesthetics above all, Antonioni, Malick & Godard are the G.O.A.T.s. I have a gargantuan soft spot for Vanessa Hudgens. Benoit Debie = THE cinematographer. Don't make war, make art.