Well fanboys and fangirls I’m happy to report that CHAPPiE wasn’t completely crappy! Despite having a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes the latest science fiction yarn by Neil Blomkamp showed promise, even though it did fall into the boundless nightmare that is plot predictability.
What’s key to understand about this latest effort is that the director wants you to suspend disbelief as he takes you on yet another science fiction journey based in South Africa. Behold the beauty and might that is the futuristic reality of Johannesburg 2016! Here we see a city that’s been salvaged and saved thanks to the world’s first robotic police force. But sadly its creator (Dev Patel) wants more then just tin-can warriors while a former solider turned technician (Hugh Jackman) vies for something else altogether.
To be honest the parts and pieces of this puzzle equal out to a rather plain whole but the performance by Sharlto Copley makes the endeavor worthwhile. Think about it, everything hinged on the believability of this actor’s talent as he embraced an entity that was born and forced to grow at a rapid rate. Whether our sentient artificial intelligence dealt with feelings of mortality or the realization of his consciousness, the man behind the machine sold it. And he did so to the point that our hero came to life in unexpected ways, as emotional investment in Chappie was not only earned but justified.
It would be nice if that’s where the review came to an end but we still have to discuss the glaring problems in the script. It calls for several characters to play a pivotal role but never earn their worth, while sidelining important conversations in favor of unnecessary bouts of humor. What this movie could have been is ultimately held back by antics that should have been suppressed in order to embrace more profound exploration. And, for me, that fact right there makes the ultimate presentation of it that much more disappointing.
Honestly, the flick would have been better off without Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo), Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser) and Ninja. We’re forced into the criminal underworld while the meat and potatoes of the narrative is born from competing ideals and questions of humanity. In the end the road this bout of science fiction chose to embrace is questionable at best, as the final product lacked focus on the elements that actually mattered. Ultimately these factors lead to an off-balance arc which occasionally mentioned quandaries that have plagued mankind for centuries. And don’t get me started on the criminally underused Sigourney Weaver! She barely got the chance to do anything in the flick and that right there frustrated me to no end.
CHAPPiE is not an ideal entry for this director’s résumé but it’s a step up from Elysium! Be warned: it’s more then a bit predictable as it carries a handful of ideas that could have possibly earned a chance to win you over. But still as it currently is I just can’t recommend the finished feature.