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The Sometimes Sappy Chappie was Crappy

The Sometimes Sappy <em>Chappie</em> was Crappy


On the one hand, “Chappie” is a dysfunctional yet sappy family film, and on the other hand, it’s a crappy tech-riddled action movie that ultimately fails to find its identity.

If you are a fan of “District 9” or “Elysium” then you’ll likely be able to find some sort of cinematic salvation in Neill Blomkamp’s most recent feature-length release, “Chappie.” On the other hand, if the aforementioned movies do not particularly appeal to your palate, then it’s likely that you’ll find “Chappie” to be a bit more crappy than its predecessors.



The film starts off much like “District 9” with Blomkamp’s go-to collage of simulated newscasts designed to give the audience a look into a not so distant future setting. As we go from gratuitously grandiose ultra-violent moments in the ghetto to the cleaner more sterile setting of the corporation, I can’t help but think that this film is very similar to Blomkamp’s other films. It’s almost like he keeps making the same movie with slight thematic variations, but that is something to hash out in another post.


Visually speaking the film is mildly appealing, but counter to his more effective “District 9,” Blomkamp swaps out the CGI insect-like aliens for CGI robots that look and move a great deal like the insect-like aliens. His heavy handed approach to action leaves little to be desired after the first half of the film.


It’s a shame to see so many great talents wasted with this forced and poorly scripted dialogue. Blomkamp puts so much into adding visual nuance that the film’s core identity suffers.


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Copley in “Elysium” (left) and “District 9” (right)

Amidst ensemble of static characters, the Sharlto Copley voiced Chappie shows signs of character development. The problem becomes the believability of Chappie’s transcendence from a blank slate to a higher consciousness, as Copley jumps from a childlike tone to that of an oddball South African Neo-Gangsta. What is intended to come across as an endearing Robot forging towards greater consciousness instead comes across as a slap happy Chappie, ultimately failing to find a suitable middle ground between over-stated philosophy and crude humor. This is a true dis-service to Copley, who was awarded a much more polished role in both “District 9” and “Elysium.”


5c5781da1-1Hugh Jackman’s most memorable moments are of his ‘designer’ mullet and when he gets lost in his own eyes during a prolonged gaze into the mirror. His prize robot is a retired bad guy from the original “Robocop,” with about as much functionality as it has screen time (very little). On top of that, Jackman’s character goes from a slightly impatient ex-military flailing robot peddler to an urban terrorist for no reason.


Sigourney Weaver’s CEO character is seriously weak, her dialogue and role in the film were erroneous at best. The handful of scenes she was in doubled the number of horrendously generic lines she awkwardly interjected. On a brighter note, Dev Patel gives the most genuine performance as a genius drone engineer, who frustrated with corporate limitations, goes rogue and pushes ethical boundaries to create the first sentient robot.


die-antwoord-call-drake-outThe second best performance goes to the outlandish Die Antwoord who, although hardly deviating from their real-life personas, managed to believably blend into Blomkamp’s hyper-violent and idiotic neo-gangster vision of a future Johannesburg.


Entertainment Value

I was bored to tears about 30 minutes into the film. The action sequences were abrupt and the films overall composition was jarring, if not at times disorienting. I feel like Blomkamp has added a plethora of unique elements to the film, but did not allow the time for one, let alone all, of those cinematic seeds to blossom.


Some of the more interesting themes touched upon in the film, such as those dealing with consciousness and the age old argument of nature versus nurture, were overshadowed by Blomkamp’s gratuitous insertion of random acts of violence. I would have much rather seen a more natural progression of events over this cacophony of special effects and sudden camera movements.



Chappie_trailer_shows_off_the_robotIt could be described as an adult version of short circuit with a hearty serving of violence, or maybe an amalgamation of Frankenstein and the Haley Joel Osmet led “A.I.” Either way, this is not a movie I would be quick to watch again. With that being said, if it happens to come on TV while I’m lounging on the couch one random night in the future I probably won’t switch the channel.


The sometimes sappy
  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability


If you are a fan of "District 9" or "Elysium" then you'll likely be able to find some sort of cinematic salvation in Neill Blomkamp's most recent feature-length release, "Chappie." On the other hand, if the aforementioned movies do not particularly appeal to your palate, then it's likely that you'll find "Chappie" to be a bit more crappy than its predecessors.

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About The Author


Since his wee lad-dom, Pooya has been a sommelier of cinema. It was likely some acting bug, fallen from the dust riddled ruby curtains of an enchanted old stage that did it. Those cinematic scarabs must have burrowed deep into his brain, irreversibly altering his mind, turning the poor boy down a dismal path. From his earliest years the strange boy would aimlessly wander the aisles of countless video rental stores, amassing his trivial knowledge with vigor. These actions befuddled the boy’s parents, who still would lovingly oblige his unusual attraction to the motion picture. Often seeking refuge in the cushioned seating of his local movie theater, the odd adolescent would immerse himself in the scripted and effects riddled realities unfolding on the screen before him. During his collegiate years, he was twice spotted on stage performing bizarre theatrical rituals before awe-struck audiences. When he departed from academia, he left behind his youth in exchange for a labor routine, but the strange young man never lost his long-cultivated love of film. Recently, Pooya was approached by to join their budding team of entertainment bloggers. After hours of coaxing and an undisclosed number of honey jars, he accepted their offer. Finally he had come full circle. Finally, at, he was home.

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