So far for me Neill Blomkamp has directed 2 fantastic sci-fi movies, District 9 which was met with much praise immediately demanded attention for the new director. His second film, Elysium, whilst it was met with a lot of criticism and disappointment, even from Blomkamp himself, I thought it was a great movie. Naturally I was intrigued by his latest effort, Chappie, his third film in the directing chair boasted an impressive cast and a lot of potential.
Chappie is a good movie, however for me I have to admit it is Blomkamp’s weakest offering so far. Don’t misunderstand me though as Chappie is not a bad film simply a few elements hold it back from ever achieving what Blomkamp’s last two films did for me. I want to discuss these elements first as there was a lot of good in the film. Unfortunately two of the major characters in the film were really poorly written, Ninja and Yolandi. These two characters were so inconsistent and their presence always felt awkward. These characters were meant to be criminals or gangsters but I thought they were very unconvincing – both of the actors are part of a rave-rap group called Die Antwoord and Chappie was their acting debut. The problem doesn’t even lie with their average performances but instead in the badly written characters which really was a shame because they featured in so many of the scenes in this film. Later in the film there are several scenes which should have been epic/emotional however because these characters are involved the film fails to convey the desired effects. Following on from this I really didn’t think the idea to make Chappie a ‘gangster’ robot was a good one, sure a few cheap laughs were achieved but as the film progressed it just seemed silly – those chains or ‘blings’ as Chappie would say were just the icing on the cake to this poor element of the film.
That element aside and Chappie was actually a really great film. Blomkamp again managed to get the viewers thinking about issues in todays world through a science-fiction setting. In the past he focused on the divide between rich and poor but here the audience is allowed to reflect on the delicate procedure of raising a child and how society treats law enforcement and outsiders. I loved this aspect of the film as it gave the film substance, this isn’t just a dumb sci-fi flick as much as the ‘gangster’ element makes you think it is. The rest of the cast do a good job, Dev Patel is a breath of fresh air compared to the newcomers and is utterly believable as the young creator of these robots. Hugh Jackman is solid here too, doing what he does best, looking angry. Unfortunately as has been the case for a while now Sigourney Weaver is given little to do so makes next to no impact apart from her great screen presence. Although with so much going on it would have been hard to develop her story or character any more than it was. The action in the film is great too, there isn’t a great deal of it but the bookends of the films are the action highlights leaving you with a good impression of what you have just watched. The ending is bold in true Blomkamp fashion however should have ended just a tiny bit before it actually did. This isn’t too much of an issue though and as with his last two films I still admire Blomkamp’s story telling and his ambition, its exciting – it’s just a shame that he didn’t quite hit the mark with this film.
Chappie is a deep science-fiction film that if you give your full attention will allow you to reflect on issues we face in todays world. The big names in the cast deliver and interact well together however a couple of poorly written characters and a scripting decision really bog down the film in silliness and awkwardness. Hopefully Chappie will be remembered for its cool ideas, good performances and nice action but something tells me the negative elements may stay in the forefront of people’s minds more.
BIGGEST FLAW – Two poorly written characters featuring far too much in the film
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – It’s ability to make you think about bigger issues than the film itself
Rating – 7.5/10