Chappie – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

chappieChappie – 2.5/5 – Potential; it is a word that is used many times over in the film industry.  When you hear about a certain film projects being made, there is always a chance it can be great.  It doesn’t matter what the story or genre is, who is directing or acting.  With the ideas of Artificial Intelligence and how it affects society, this film had a lot of potential.  For all the attempts made throughout the story to make this film great; it just falls flat on its face.  With so much bloat within the context of the film, Chappie never achieves what it set out to do within the ideas it introduced.

Premise:  In the near future; one scientist experiment with AI will present the question; what is robotic and what is human.

There are many well known names in this film mixed with some new comers.   For the main cast, you have:

Sharlto Copley as Chappie

Dev Patel as Deon Wilson

Ninja as Ninja

Yo-Landi Visser as Yolandi

Jose Cantillo as Yankie

Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore

Sigourney Weaver as Michelle Bradley

On the positive note first; when the film does shed a glimmer of hope, the main casts do hold their ground and make the film watchable.  That is the entire positive thought I can say because for majority of this film; the main cast are basically borderline within their characters.  Each of the main cast gives wooden performances within their cliché line delivery.   For how great a job some of the well known actors/actresses on this list are known for, they play one-dimensional archetypes when it comes to a sci-fi film.  Patel never breaks the traditional ‘inventor/scientist’ role; Jackman stages the linearity of the ‘evil/militant’ villain, and Weaver just plays a ‘aloof’ business woman.  These three stand out because they are known for their great acting jobs in other films.  For the rest of the cast, they are serviceable for what they are given to do in this film.  I do not fault the rest of the cast for the terrible script; but at the same time they could have given some ‘humanity’ to their roles.   This would of helped add some emotional overtures to the bland direction and script.

With the direction of this film; it’s a mixture between thematically draw and convoluted storytelling.   On the surface (and throughout the film in certain moments) there is the ideal presented to the audience; what is artificial intelligence and how would it affect society.  What actually happens is the director takes us down many different paths that play under this theme, expanding the umbrella without giving a true focal point.  There is a lot of misdirection because of the added additional elements of politic/social commentary, technology/human interaction, gangster/territorial drama and ideals of consciousness.  That lack of cohesion gives you fragments of terrible set pieces; momentary hope, and emotion-less interactions between the AI ‘Chappie’ and the humans.  I am not really going to go into a deep description.  Everything expressed about the general three acts will be explained as followed:

First act: Political commentary intro, the two ‘developers’ at the company ideals of robots, fateful (plot driven) interactions between the gangster trio and Deon Wilson

Second act: Chappie is built, rest of the themes introduced; misdirection of focus, tone, and themes.

Third act: Foreshadowing plot devices introduced; predictable action-oriented climax; cop out epilogue from foreshadowing elements.

In the end you come to realize this film rip-offs a lot of elements that made the original RoboCop films great in the 1980s.  The main difference (and its obvious) is that the film never stays focused on its true introduction (like RoboCop), and tries to do way too much with unwanted and sometimes unneeded material.  With a lack of story, you can see the glaring plight within the terrible script and lack of vision.

For all the negative impact from the shallow acting and terrible direction; the one thing the film does well is the visuals.  From the practical effects within the gunfights and the robotic elements; to the overall scope of Johannesburg; you feel the grit within the ironic ideals of the film.  That grit helps you ground the bloated experience, and cause certain moments in the film to stand out in great form.  The score has no real effect on the film; but it is noted that there is music that plays throughout.

Chappie is the quintessential film that starts off (and looks) great, but falls flat on so many levels.  No matter if it is the acting, direction, script and overall lack of focus, you just feel let down from beginning to end.  If it wasn’t for the visual appeal, this film would have gotten a lower rating.  If you’re a fan of sci-fi film; this is a matinee at best.  For most; just skip this at the theater.

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