Friday, February 26, 2016

Chappie on DVD

[DVD Chappie]

I really enjoyed the hyper-realistic, gritty aliens-on-earth film District 9, directed by Neil Blomkamp, a few years ago, and was excited to see that he had created another new film last year in the form of Chappie. In this new film, Chappie is a damaged military police robot, which has been uploaded with a self-aware artificial intelligence, making it a living mechnical lifeform. The South African world of Chappie is gritty, filthy, and ruinous, peopled by violent gangs, an overwhelmed police force, and powerful corporations.
The main plot features a robotics scientist breaking protocol to steal a damaged robot to test out his AI software. However, he and his science project are co-opted by a trio of small-time crooks who need his “police robot” to help them pull off a big crime job, or they’ll get killed by the local criminal scene’s biggest player. Meanwhile, at the company that manufactures the police robots, another scientist/engineer wants to be able to test his even-more-powerful military robot, but has to prove that the line of robots Chappie came from is ineffective. Combine some violent criminal behavior, some corporate espionage and intrigue, and an oddly-sweet story of the brand new Chappie Artificial Intelligence being “born” and learning about its world, and you’ve got a crazy, mixed-up science fiction film. The set design and special effects — particularly the robotics work to bring Chappie to life, are incredible. Actor Sharlto Copley (who also starred in Blomkamp’s District 9) was filmed in a motion capture suit for the robotic character of Chappie, and also provides the voice — he created a quirky character, that I really grew to care about by the end of the film. Other stand-out cast members include Hugh Jackman (playing a villain for once!), Sigourney Weaver, Dev Patel, and a pair of punk/new-wave musicians, Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser (who play “Ninja” and “Yo-Landi” — the small-time criminals who end up becoming surrogate parents to the newly-created Chappie intelligence). I didn’t think I was going to enjoy Ninja and Yo-Landi’s performances at first, but by the end of the film, I found them to be excellent.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try District 9, also directed by Blomkamp.] [Also available in traditional print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Chappie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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