Review: Chappie (2015)

Jo'burg, you have a problem

When someone mentions the term ‘sci-fi’ it causes one to picture such films as Star Wars and Blade Runner among many others. But occasionally there is the exception to the preconceived ideas of a regular science fiction film.

Anyone familiar with the work of Neil Blokamp will know that his is a stylised change to that of the regular codes and conventions of the genre, Chappie being the new addition to his repertoire.

His previous two instalments, in what I like to think of as a ‘spiritual trilogy’, have both been a large success. District 9 and Elysium are by far two of my favourite films in terms of entertainment and their stylish cinematography. Fortunately, Chappie did not disappoint in the slightest.

Without giving too much away I will give you a brief rundown of the plot. It is set in a dystopian, futuristic Johannesburg (not too unlike the others in the trilogy), where crime has hit an all time high and the majority of the police force has now been replaced by robots, or ‘Scouts’ as they are known. The ‘Tetravaal’ company manufactures these mechanical beings in order to keep the city and its regular citizens safe. Creator and designer of these Scouts, Dion (played by a truly fantastic Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire and Skins fame), is the fresh-faced genius who has finally seen all his years of work pay off. But with the ambition to create a sentient being, a robot with conscious thought, his dreams soon become a bitter reality.

After finally creating a programme that will allow a Scout to have a fully formed consciousness, it’s not long before his creation falls into the hands of the wrong people. A trio of criminals kidnaps Dion and his beloved automaton with hopes of using it to aide in their future criminal endeavors. But as soon as they boot the robot up it is apparent that its consciousness is something that will be a gradual build. Starting with the personality like that of a child, Chappie starts to learn and progress over the course of the film. As time goes on, Chappie’s personality starts to form on what he witnesses from those surrounding him (cue hilarious gangster colloquialisms, fist-bumps and much more).

As the story unfolds you truly start to feel levels of emotion and attachment to this automaton, something that is rarely imagined, watching the character progress from an innocent being into something much more.

With an amazing cast also including the likes of Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Les Miserables) and Sigourney Weaver (that Alien film?) as well as the talented Sharlto Copely (District 9, Elysium, Oldboy) this film essentially has all the workings of a blockbuster.

Overall, you cannot look any further if you are after an entertaining, character-driven sci-fi action movie. Full of laughs, amazing set pieces and some truly breathtaking cinematography, Chappie is well worth the ticket.

Discussion feed
  • Finally watched this at the weekend and am completely conflicted about it. I love District 9 and think Elysium is very good as well but as much as I liked Chappie...I didn't love it. It also seems a bit lost about what it is...especially with the inclusion of the band Die Antwoord playing a big role throughout. It is however, a very unique take on the whole "AI" story.

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