Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Chappie (opening today), simply put, is crappy. It is the Robocop/Short Circuit cross-over that no one was asking for or wanted.
In the near-future, an army of robot police have been created by young scientist Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), who works for a large Monsanto-type weapons conglomerate, ran by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver, collecting a paycheck). These robots have helped tremendously in the fight against crime, and it is explained that they are impossible to hack into.
So guess what happens. A rejected police robot is about to be scrapped, but Dr. Wilson is eager to try out his new artificial intelligence program that he just invented, one that would be the first of its kind because it would allow a robot to think like a human, or better (scarier) yet, be far more advanced than a human brain. Since Bradley disapproves of his new software (who cares if a robot can learn to paint or interpret art?), Dr. Wilson sneaks the rejected droid out of the lab in order to conduct experiments on it and load it up with his new AI. But on his way home, he is hijacked by a punk-rock rebel crew of criminals, Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and real-life South African punk-rockers Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja, both of whom go by these real names in the film.
Wilson is forced to explain his intentions and his robot to the crew, who force him to get the robot up and running so that they can use him to commit a big heist. Thus, Chappie is born.
The way the technology works, Chappie begins like an infant and then learns, at a far quicker rate than humans, mostly so because we need him to get up to speed during the course of the movie. Yolandi becomes his "Mommy" and Ninja his "Daddy" while Dr. Wilson is known as "Maker." Elsewhere, a jealous co-worker of Dr. Wilson, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman, collecting a paycheck) continues to push his mega-military robot "Moose," which he says has the advantage over any AI robot because it is remotely controlled by a human mind. Moose looks like a copyright violation of "Robocop 2" from Robocop 2. And you can tell Jackman will be the villain based solely on his bad haircut.
In the earlier stages of Chappie, it appeared we were going to get an allegorical sci-fi movie that spoke to some larger-than-life issues or universal themes. It definitely suggests a few early on, before quickly devolving into one of the more pointless action shoot-em-ups I've seen in quite some time. Chappie's baby-talk grows annoying and although the film really tries to work at making you care about this robot, it loses sight of the rest of Chappie's human counterparts. Weaver and Jackman are both grossly misused and under-developed, and although interesting enough to look at, "Mommy" and "Daddy" are unable to carry any emotional weight. Only Patel appears to be trying, but his one-note character is not all that interesting, nor do his motives make much sense.
Worse yet, any social or human relevance the story and plot establishes evaporates quite quickly. Before you know it, we are watching super-slow-motion action sequences between characters we don't care about. Just when you think you've seen enough ridiculousness, it gets even more crazy, coming together for a conclusion that is not only laughable, but borderline insulting to anyone whose brain operates with real intelligence and reason.
Movies like this try to make us question topics like "man vs. machine," but Chappie doesn't stay the course. It raises some serious themes, then discards them quickly in favor of mindless action. For a film so obsessed with thought and the capabilities of the human mind, Chappie is just mindless. And not the fun kind.
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Run Time: 2 hours, Rated R
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Yo-Landi Visser, Ninja
Co-Written & Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium)
Opens locally on Friday, March 6, 2015
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