Chappie (2015)

Do you remember the movie Short Circuit? In that movie, a military robot gets hit by lightening and winds up developing human emotions and - ultimately - a soul. It was a good movie only in the same way that the original Red Dawn was a good movie: if you were the right age at the time it came out, it was the best thing ever, but if you make the mistake of going back and re-watching it now, you'll realize how bad it is.

Well, this movie takes the basic formula and replaces the relatable Johnny Five with Chappie, a child-like robot who is easily tricked into doing things because he doesn't know any better. Think of him as the metallic incarnation of Jar Jar Binks; he has about that much personality. They just try to make him cute by having him rush his lines all the time, and it doesn't really work.

Chappie is a lot like the Transformer movies in that I don't really understand who the target audience is. If there wasn't constant violence, swearing, and glorification of crime, this might be a kids movie like Short Circuit was. Instead, we have a movie with adult themes and a childish plot.

Speaking of childish, the characters with their comic book hairstyles and one dimensional personalities are not helping this movie out at all. Yolandi Visser, with her seriously out-there hair, personality, and voice, plays Chappie's "mommy" who cares for him most of the time. They appear to have not wanted to confuse her on set, so they named her character Yolandi, which is her actual name. One of her other contributions (and that of her male counterpart, Ninja) was much of the soundtrack. She has such a high-pitched and annoying voice that it was unmistakable.

The director, Neill Blomkamp, pretty much can't film something that isn't based in South Africa, can he? I only know of three of his films: District 9 (which was okay), Elysium (which was less so), and this movie (which continues the downward trend), and they were all set in South Africa. I'd say that he was trying to get people to visit like Peter Jackson did with New Zealand, but none of the movies makes South Africa look like a place you would want to be... like ever. This movie paints a picture of a lawless state that had to turn to robotic police like Detroit did for Robocop. Does Robocop make you want to visit Detroit?

The one agreeable thing they did in this movie was to give Hugh Jackman a mullet. Now THERE is how an actor can show that he's not taking himself too seriously. You know what else he didn't take seriously? This role, and I don't blame him. He wasn't alone in the people who lined up for a paycheck. Sigourney Weaver showed up to play the character that Jodie Foster played in Elysium. she was the big boss who just wants the company to continue to operate as planned.

Direction was lousy
Effects were good
Acting was okay
Story was paint-by-numbers
Dialog was bad

Bottom Line: A big budget movie with a small budget script.



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