One thing is abundantly clear from Director Neill Blomkamp’s movies.
Human Beings suck.
We’re heartless and self-serving and usually very dangerous. The humans who AREN’T hell-bent on world domination are most often blindly serving some terrible political machine. Blomkamp made his thoughts clear to audiences in the excellent District 9 and then the disappointing Elysium so it’s no surprise that his new hero is a robot.
Chappie is part of a South African robot-police-squad when he is taken away and essentially given a soul. He is like a baby at first and must be taught so the humans around him do so through alternating methods of torture and support. Even the GOOD guy here (Dev Patel) tells Chappie, “I am your Maker. You do what I say,” so it’s hard to determine even HIS intentions. The BAD guys are some of the worst, one-note characters I’ve ever seen on film. The fact that you eventually root for them is almost miraculous. They are played by a South African rap-rave group called Die Antwoord which explains most of the music and onscreen artistic choices.
Hugh Jackman shows up as another evil-human, but this one is sporting a mullet so you know he’s extra bad. He wants to destroy all the police robots to make room for HIS robot and Chappie is #1 on his list. Honestly, Jackman is flat out delicious when he plays a bad guy. One of my favorite scenes is when he blasts the other bad guys from his “Moose” droid because he’s cheering and giggling the whole time.
Sharlto Copley, who apparently has to be in every Blomkamp movie EVER, is the voice of Chappie and he’s what keeps the movie from drowning in ugliness. What starts off as a ridiculous baby-robot scenario turns into something tender and filled with real emotions. We watch Chappie evolve from a simple child to precocious teenager and finally to a sweet and able adult. You can’t help but love him.
The biggest mistake Blomkamp makes with this movie is the R-rating. Kids would have LOVED Chappie and if the profanity and violence had been scaled back to a PG-13, parents would have taken them to see it. Instead, the audience will be filled with those awful grown-up humans that Blomkamp hates so much.
It’s funny that I ended up liking a movie I hated so much in the beginning. Chappie was able to change my mind about 90 minutes into it’s 2-hour run and that’s why I’m giving it a C+. I just hope that Blomkamp gets over some of his human-hatred before taking on the new Alien franchise. If not, looks like the aliens will kill us all!