Chappie is the 3rd film directed by District 9 director Neill Blomkamp and takes place in a futuristic Johannesburg where Scout police droids are used to help lower the crime rate but their creator Deon (Dev Patel) dreams of something more for his creation, a dream that could make his robot come alive like a human being.
I'm always a sucker for a new Science Fiction film and as a result I held out hope for Chappie to deliver the goods and also for Neill Blomkamp who made a strong debut with District 9 but fell from those great heights with Elysium in 2013 (this isn't new BTW, our own Geoffrey Wright fell from the grace Romper Stomper gave him with Metal Skin) so could Chappie prove he really is alive or should it be sent to the scrapheap?
Well sadly this is strongly a case of the latter as I hated sitting through this film and hated almost everything about this film for primarily 2 key reasons:
- The first key reason for this is that so much of this film rests on you caring for people that are essentially criminals played by hip hop artists Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser and you see them at the start of the film up to no good while the police droids come on the scene and start shooting at them but then Blomkamp decides to make these people the heart of this movie and I just kept thinking "I don't care about these people, I hate watching them and why again must I feel forced to sympathise with criminals, smegging hell" and on top of that the hip hop artists are annoying in their roles to watch especially Yo-Landi who has a very high pitch voice which is not easy to listen to after a while.
- The second key reason is that the whole film plays out like a copy of Robocop I mean you have the lawless city, the rival scientists with their own competing projects, the sentient being that becomes its own living soul as the film goes on and the attempts by the company to shut him down and I'm sorry but Neill Blomkamp is not Paul Verhoeven and this film is nowhere as compelling or funny or heartfelt as the original Robocop film is.
Oh and as for the central performances by Patel, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver they're all wasted in their roles and all 3 of them deserve better especially Patel and Jackman, hopefully Jackman gets to show us the Wild side of Wolverine in X-Men Apocalypse next year.
But I have to talk about Blomkamp himself now and it just staggers me beyond all belief that this man has fallen so far so fast first with Elysium and now with Chappie after showing such promise with District 9 which did have a good story, good action and characters worth caring about in the Prawn race and to think 20th Century Fox has hired this man to revive the Alien franchise based purely on his conceptual artwork for what it might look like, frankly Fox should be hiring Bryan Singer instead given how well he rebooted X-Men with Days of Future Past last year but alas things are what they are.
And yet I wanted to like this film much like I wanted to like the recent Jupiter Ascending as I wanted a good Sci-Fi film to like before the onslaught of Superhero and Animated films come our way and especially before the new Star Wars film hits cinemas in December but alas the Sci-Fi fanbase has trusted the Force and for the most part they stayed away from both of these films all the while deciding to wait for Star Wars based primarily I think on the strength of the teaser trailer from late last year.
And so that was Chappie a film I hated sitting through and it breaks my heart to say it, .5 out of 5.