Let’s me preface this by saying that I really really wanted to like this movie. I was very excited about it. I even prepared by writing a post about my favourite movie robots, which you can read here. On top of that, Neill Blomkamp directed Chappie. He also did District 9, which I love! So how could it be bad? I have no clue, but it wasn’t good.
It started off well enough, even though it was almost too reminiscent of District 9. The storyline focuses on a robotics engineer named Deon, who has designed a robot that is being used as police officers in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has aspirations of creating the first true form of artificial intelligence but his superiors aren’t interested in anything more than what they already have. Enter Amerika, Ninja, and Yo-Landi, three gangsters who have decided that they should kidnap Deon and get him to tell them how to turn the robots off so they can commit their felonies in peace. Deon obviously can’t turn all the robots off but he does upload his artificial intelligence program into one of the robots so that the gangsters can use him to commit their crimes. You guessed it, that robot is Chappie.
The first half of this movie had some great moments. It was so endearing to see Chappie learn and try to figure out the world around him. You start to really like the gangsters at certain points, especially Yo-Landi, and you really feel for Deon as he tries to do something great.
The problem with the movie is that it really held our hearts and our attention for while and then instead of deepening our emotional investment, it decided to try and wow us with visual effects (which were pretty spectacular) and it completely forgot about the sentimental storyline that it had built. The second half of the movie completely falls apart and we are left thinking, “What the heck just happened?” The message it was trying to convey about life being special gets completely lost and convoluted.
I also had some problems with the fact that this company builds the most advanced robots in the world and the security at their office is a joke. I’ve seen better security measures employed at Lululemon. I feel like your access card might get revoked if you have been proven to be tampering with the robots. Apparently not. I also had an issue with Hugh Jackman’s character who is trying so desperately to get his robot on the streets that he is willing to sacrifice hundreds of lives. We just don’t see enough of his personal struggle to make this a justifiable choice in our eyes.
I did love the score (obviously… it was done by Hans Zimmer) and, as I mentioned before, it is visually stunning. There were some good moments and a couple funny parts. Overall though, this was a very disappointing movie and I was willing to give it quite a bit of leeway because of my soft spot for robots. Save your money and watch it at home if you see it at all.