This was the official website for the 2015 film, Chappie.
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Rating: R (for violence, language and brief nudity)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp
Written By:Terri Tatchell, Neill Blomkamp
In Theaters: Mar 6, 2015 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Jun 16, 2015
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
(From IMDb) In Johannesburg, the police department reduced the high rating of criminality using robots from the Tetravaal Company, designed by the engineer Deon Wilson. The former military Vincent Moore is envious of Deon, since he has developed another project called Moose, but neither Tetravaal nor the police department is interested. Deon has just developed an Artificial Intelligence but the Tetravaal's CEO Michelle Bradley asks him to abort the project. Deon decides to bring the damaged Robot 22 that was sent to be crushed to test his A.I. However he is kidnapped by the criminals Ninja, Yo-Landi and Amerika that want him to stop the robot cops. When they see the damaged robot in the van, they force Deon to program it to heist banks with them and they call it Chappie. However, Chappie acts like a child and need to be trained to learn and grow. Meanwhile Vincent follows Deon and plots an evil scheme to activate his robot.
Published on Nov 5, 2014
CRITICS 32% | AUDIENCE56%
Critics Consensus: Chappie boasts more of the big ideas and visual panache that director Neill Blomkamp has become known for -- and, sadly, more of the narrative shortcomings.
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.
Johnny Five meets ‘Robocop’ in Neill Blomkamp’s ‘District 9’
BY: Sonny Bunch
March 6, 2015 5:00 am
I’ve argued before that critics should know their blind spots. So I should acknowledge one of mine before we get started with this review.
I’m a total sucker for Short Circuit 2.
Not the original adventure of Johnny Five, the war-fighting robot that achieves sentience after a lightning strike (or whatever), but the sequel, which moved the action to New York City and saw gangs and mobsters take advantage of the childlike droid. The scene in which Johnny Five is beaten with crowbars by a group of criminals he thought were his friends was, likely, the most traumatic thing I saw growing up. I was a sheltered child.
So when I say Chappie reminds me of Short Circuit 2 by way of Robocop and District 9, you have to understand that I mean it in the nicest sense possible. Neill Blomkamp’s latest movie is alternately charming and exciting if occasionally—well, okay, constantly—more than a little bit hokey.
Set in the near future, Blomkamp envisions a Johannesburg that is overrun by automatic-weapon-wielding gangs. The police are powerless to stop their assault, so the city has turned to a private company to create a robot that can sweep the streets of crime.
The film opens with an extended demonstration of the prowess of these "scouts": Fearless, immune to small arms fire, and a crack-shot, the robot charges into danger with human handlers just a few steps behind.
Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) is the programmer of these remarkable machines. But he’s not done innovating. He wants permission to pursue his dream of infusing one of the scouts with an artificial intelligence program that he has been working on. Imagine, he tells his boss Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver), a robot that can decide whether or not it likes art, a robot that can write poetry.
Bradley laughs in his face. Giving a weapon system an urge to write poetry is not good for business. Nor, frankly, a terribly wise move, given the cinematic history of autonomous, self-aware killing machines.
But Deon won’t give up. He steals a unit designated for scrap, only to get hijacked by a trio of thugs who kidnap him in order to show him how they are able to turn off the scouts ahead of a planned heist.
Instead of an off-switch, the gangsters have stumbled onto something better: At their command, Deon uploads his program—consciousness.dat, conveniently—into one of the robots.
The result is Chappie (voiced and articulated by Sharlto Copley). Like a cross between a four-year-old boy and a cute dog, Chappie quickly comes to think of Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser) and Ninja (Ninja) as his mother and father, respectively. The third member of their crew, Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo) is his best friend. Deon is his maker.
What follows is an extended lesson in the cruelty of humanity—its hatred for the other, its impulse for destruction, and its degradation of the innocent. Chappie is beaten and tormented before being partially dismembered by one of Deon’s devoutly religious coworkers (Hugh Jackman), who believes that Chappie is not only an abomination but also a threat to his business.
But Chappie also learns about love. Yolandi deeply cares for the robot, his childlike behavior sparking her maternal sensibilities. Ninja starts the film off as the world’s worst dad—the second act of Chappie is probably best understood as a parable for the nightmares of child abuse—but ends up as a doting father (of sorts).
Blomkamp’s vision of Johannesburg is nightmarish, a holdover from his previous film set in South Africa’s largest city. Given Blomkamp’s family’s history— they fled South Africa as the nation spiraled into violence after the end of apartheid—that’s not terribly surprising.
Like District 9, the Johannesburg of Chappie seems ready to burst at any moment, a hell-scape of criminals and warlords looking for any excuse to go wilding. This movie isn’t a parable about the evils of violating the civil rights of criminals or a comment on a culture suffused with fear, like Robocop. It’s about a society on the edge, one in which robots are the only thing holding back barely restrained anarchy.
But it’s also about love and family and the mysteries of consciousness and the predations of humanity. And, yes, about a cute, if at times cloying, robot.
By the way, did you notice the product placements in the movie. My wife and I make a contest out of who can spot the most. One of the more obvious placements was the commercial mop buckets shown in several scenes. It's pretty hard to miss these bright yellow babies. Whether the wringer mop bucket is manufactured by Rubbermaid, Libman, or Genuine Joe they are all that distinctive yellow. I saw a Rubbermaid WaveBrake Mopping Trolley with side press wringer which I think is the biggest model. The cleaning folks at the hotel where I work have several. There were also smaller Rubbermaid, I think, mop bucket/wringer combos as well. If you haven't seen the movie yet or are planning to see it again, look for the yellow buckets!
Humans Are Terrible in Chappie, and That's the Point
July 19, 2016
Katie Kilkenny The Atlantic Top Critic
It's this time-old message of humanity, adapted to fit with today's technologies, that transcends the overpowering, at times clunky, cinematic vessel.
Neill Blomkamp's sci-fi, coming-of-age film plays up the flatness of its flesh-and-blood characters to focus on the soul of its young robot hero.
Early on in its development, things didn’t look so good for Chappie, and not just because of its horrendous title. The director Neill Blomkamp’s adventurous decision to hire the South African, cult-hit rave duo Die Antwoord as actors didn’t appear to be paying off: Strife between the rappers and the cast and crew resulted in the group’s frontman, Ninja, being written out of a scene, a frustrated interview with a fellow cast member, and, reportedly, an incident with Dev Patel and a space cake. The styles of the first two trailers were so diametrically opposed to one another that it was hard to tell whether the titular robot’s journey was supposed to be a heartwarming fable in the vein of Pinocchio or a brutal action-adventure à la Robocop. The fate of the robot, though, was the least of everyone’s worries when the spots highlighted a manically one-dimensional, apparently technophobic Hugh Jackman sporting a mullet.
Now that Chappie has been released, it should be noted that all of these early fears have been realized. Hugh Jackman really does play a cardboard monster. Dev Patel actually acts and speaks like Die Antwoord’s Ninja fed him drugged sweets the entire production. And Ninja himself is so unlikeable that his entrance into nearly every scene is preceded by a disclaimer of his general unpleasantness by another character, and a visible cringe from every sentient being in the frame. Jackman’s mullet, tinged with a mustard-gold color on top that is nowhere to be found in nature, really is that horrific.
But the ineptitude of the human performances in Chappie is by design. In Blomkamp’s latest, the mortals and their particular quirks take a backseat to the titular robot, who is the first, according to the film’s eminently contemporary tale, to possess consciousness. Charged with raising the precocious, emotional robot like a child, Chappie's human guardians fail him every which way. But their repeated let-downs are only fitting for a story about the universal experience of growing up, even for one that replaces flesh and bone with titanium, and a fully active brain with a computer chip. Coming of age is messy, painful, and cartoonishly difficult—Chappie’s artistic choice to makes its humans caricatures only strengthens its argument for the transcendence of humanity all the way into cold steel.
Like so many other classic stories about childhood and trauma—Matilda, The Little Princess, almost anything out of Charles Dickens—Chappie grows up in a harsh environment dominated by foster parents who are ill-suited to the responsibility of raising a child. In 2016 in Johannesburg, a weapons manufacturer called Tetra Vaal Industries has successfully equipped the city with the world’s first all-robot police force. Newsreel footage shows that the world is generally content with this development: Crime has plummeted, and the titanium-clad robots ably shield human bodies from harm. Yet their creator, an idealistic young engineer named Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), is eager to make his artificially-intelligent creations fully intelligent. He devises a program to instill consciousness in his robots, and when his bottom line-fixated boss, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver), forbids him from installing the software, he secretly programs a damaged, child-like droid.
Chappie is more about the unjust rule of law in the household than on the streets.
His grand, idealistic plans to rear Chappie on a steady diet of poetry go sour when a group of South African gangsters (Ninja and Yolandi as Die Antwoord, plus Jose Pablo Cantillo) kidnap Patel and forcibly adopt Chappie. In a rushed bit of narrative lead-up and one prolonged, exquisite action sequence between the group and the South African police, the film explains how the gang owe a local mob leader $20 million. The group lands upon the brilliant idea that Patel might have a “remote control” for turning the droids off during a grand heist; when he says that's impossible, they take Chappie for their personal bodyguard instead.
Blomkamp’s first feature-length movie, the Oscar-nominated District 9, implicated several levels of bureaucracy in perpetrating crimes of xenophobia and speciesism. Though the android-cop premise is ripe for a further exploration of profiling, Chappie is more about the unjust rule of law in the household than on the streets, but it's an angle that's just as brutal. Wilson wants to raise Chappie to read and paint; Ninja insists he learn how to walk with swagger, swear, and shoot. The disparities in their educational messaging, moreover, have some severe consequences: Wilson makes Chappie promise he will realize his full potential and never shoot a gun; Ninja convinces him that throwing switchblades into people’s necks just puts them to sleep. The simplistic extremes in styles turn these older characters into caricatures, but what child doesn’t remember growing up in terms of dizzying highs and emotionally gutting catastrophes? The lack of subtlety is the element that makes the story so painfully familiar.
Chappie ultimately draws a line between what constitutes the use and abuse of technology.
Unsurprisingly for a film about the engineering of feeling, Blomkamp and his production team overdo it on stylization. The home that Chappie grows up in is a garage furnished in graffiti, bling, and moldering domestic appliances, an aesthetic inspired by the rave trappings of Die Antwoord's NSFW music videos and zef style. The cinematography, too, looks at times like it was ripped straight from a rap video, particularly in Chappie’s angsty teenage phase, when he’s trying to hang with the guys while also hung up on the morals that his Master instilled in his young mind. Hans Zimmer’s score is metallic, synthetic, insanely loud, and eminently danceable. The violence is grotesque, particularly when viewed through the lens of the young robot, who learns what it’s like to be hit, to be insulted, to feel left out. These slights sting keenly, even if it’s only bolts and joints that are spilling, not blood—though there’s plenty of that to go around.
The sensory overload might be too much for some, but Chappie ultimately draws a line between what constitutes the use and abuse of technology, a prescription that it generally follows. The primary villain in the movie is Wilson’s rival engineer at work, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), who has devised an alternate vision for the police force in the form of a drone-like droid that can be controlled remotely by a human called The Moose. For a robotic engineer, Moore is an exceptionally unthinking villain: His plot involves shutting down the android police force to set his Moose on the loose. When apprised of Chappie’s existence, his great ambition is to dismember the robot like a seasoned Luddite torturer. Moore pushes the limits of what constitutes acceptable villainery: Jackman, muscles bulging, Grinch-grinning, mullet mercifully stashed away in the Moose’s neurotransmitter when he demonstrates the firepower of his pet project, embodies the humanist polar opposite of Wilson’s compassionate respect for humanity. He’s a joystick-happy sadist who prefers his technology stone-cold, and preferably equipped with the capability to launch multiple bombs at once.
But it’s in these extraordinarily brutal sequences of one man’s warped, sickening virtual reality that Chappie makes its forward-thinking pitch—that there’s more humanity to be found in reproducing consciousness and bestowing individuality into titanium bodies than in controlling them. It’s this time-old message of humanity, adapted to fit with today’s technologies, that transcends the overpowering, at times clunky, cinematic vessel.
Al S Super Reviewer
An instant classic. Director, Neil Blomkamp hits his mark the third time around with another brilliant sci-fi film that will truly compel you and blow you away. A true artist of the genre that just improves with every film. A spectacular and brilliant work of art. Like District 9 and Elysium you wil love this movie. Its powerful, exhilarating, heartfelt and action-packed. The special effects and the action are superb. A visually dazzling and deeply moving experience. Sharlto Copley is brilliant as Chappie, capturing his true child-like innocence and evolves beautifully as the film develops. Dev Patel is fantastic. High Jackman is terrific.
**** Paul D
May 25, 2016
I gave this a second viewing and I have to say, I still really like it. Not sure what it is about me that makes me disagree with mostly everyone about this movie, but it entertained me. Die Antwood was still the weakest link of the film, but they didn't ruin it for me. Oh well...I wish it made more money because I would have loved to see where the story could have gone from here. It will never happen though. Such a shame.
*** ½ Joshua D
May 21, 2016
Could have used a rewrite, but c'mon. Underrated.
* ½ Rob C
May 21, 2016
Neil Blomkamp is quite the rising star in science fiction; after making the brilliant District 9, the director has gained a solid cult following. His newest film however is quite the misfire, dragging him away from the heights of the best science fiction visionaries in the film industry.
Set once again in Johannesburg, Chappie is the tale of Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), a young inventor who creates the first artificial consciousness. He plants it inside a broken down police robot and after a few run-ins with local gangs, aims to teach the childlike Chappie (Sharlto Copley) the difference between right and wrong. Despite taking place in a similar universe to District 9, Chappie is barely recognisable as something to be associated with the sleeper hit that came before; gone are the thought-provoking themes and creative scenarios that defined Blomkamp's debut. In their place is a poorly devised mix of painfully annoying learning scenes juxtaposed against a scant few action scenes ripped straight from Blomkamp's previous efforts. While the scenes with Chappie and the gangsters are irritating, the action sequences don't have an original bone in their body. The mech sequence towards the end of the film is especially guilty of this, borrowing liberally from Robocop. I can see how the film was trying to make the audience care for Chappie and his innocence, but with such one-note dialogue and excessive clichés you'll have a hard time caring throughout the film.
Characters were kept strong but simple in Blomkamp's other films so surely we can expect that trend to continue in District 9? Rather than progress forward with characterisation, Chappie instead devolves its cast into one of two categories; paper-thin or frustratingly clichéd. Patel really isn't very interesting as Deon Wilson as the film never bothers to examine the ethics of artificial intelligence in any real way. The relationship between him and Chappie isn't very good either, failing to create a proper bond between the two. I can sum up the antagonists of Chappie in three simple words; "They want money", there's simply no blunter way of putting it. Underdeveloped villains were already a minor issue in District 9, but here it's even worse; I've never seen gangster characters as clichéd as those played by rapping duo Die Antwoord in Chappie. Hugh Jackman is similarly miscast as Deon's rival Vincent Moore, designer of the MOOSE mech; he's the same old villain who wants to undermine his co-workers for his own personal gain with no depth or complexity whatsoever. As for Sigourney Weaver, her role is a laughable one, regulated to a soulless CEO who is just as miniscule as Samuel L. Jackson in the 2014 Robocop remake. The characters of Chappie really don't have anything going for them, making it impossible for the film to put across any kind of whimsical or heartfelt tone.
The one thing Chappie can cling to for support is its visuals; Blomkamp's gritty and dusty setting is once again an engaging backdrop, even if the action that takes place this around isn't worth getting invested in. There's plenty of run-down settings which highlight the criminal presence in the area and the motion capture effects on Chappie himself are very well done and believable. While the visual effects on the titular robot are just as detailed as the prawns that came before, the editing is fairly basic by comparison. The guerrilla, pseudo-realistic style of filmmaking featured in Blomkamp's previous films can never make an impression here because it is quickly shoved to the side after the film's opening moments. The sound design is loud and pulse-pounding which certainly works well to matching the hard hitting futuristic weapons but truth be told, this cannot serve a substitute for unoriginal action sequences. Chappie's technical presentation mostly sticks with what works but it does little to make up for its numerous shortcomings.
Chappie is an enormous step backwards from District 9 in every way imaginable; I expected so much better from Neil Blomkamp. There's nothing thoughtful, little that's engaging and the film as a whole is just clumsily put together. It's a rather suspicious case of how creative control can bring down a cinematic vision if placed in the wrong hands. My advice? Watch Blomkamp's vastly superior works and steer clear of this lazy imitation.
** Brad S
May 19, 2016
I admire Blomkamp and wanted to like this, but it's just not very good. The story is week and hiring a South African rap band to star doesn't help as they are awful actors. Hugh Jackman is a star filled with charm and is wasted here and Weaver has a thankless role. Skip it.
*** Bruno D
May 18, 2016
This is a pretty entertaining science fiction, dystopian future movie. Chappie is a really lovable character even when the movie has 2 musicians who cants really act but are entertaining and funny anyways. The movie has a forgettable and down right generic as it gets bad guy thats been done to death. One of the greatest actresses in the history of cinema as well as the most iconic and poster child for female badass heroes, Sigourney Weaver was completely wasted in this movie and didn't do much if anything. Im glad she's with Blomkamp since I think she fits perfect for the movies he envisions but give her a starting role or more to do next time. Overall an entertaining movie.
** ½ Frank C
May 15, 2016
I thought this was a really cool story and it was done brilliant. ..director Neil Blonkamp did a great job with this and Hugh Jackman as the main antagonist was a really cool change for him.
May 14, 2016
could be better but interesting enough, though hardly an epic. the possibilities it depicts can be eye-opening to many
*** David P
May 13, 2016
I love the idea in the beginning and the visuals are great, but man All of the characters are so annoying. I wanted to like this movie when I first heard about it, and it started out very intriguing, the it just got weird. It moved really slowly through the middle section followed by a rushed ending. Man I hated Hugh Jackman talking the audience through the story, even if it is just part of his character, and the group of gangstas, my gosh I felt nothing for them throughout the movie. I have hope still for Neil Blomkamp, his ideas are always there and his visuals are amazing, but he needs help elsewhere in the studio to make his ideas work and truly come to life.
***½ Chris B
March 20, 2016
Not really what I was expecting at all. I thought that the film would be more about the big stars but really it was about the robot and the relationship he has with the lesser known actors. Some good laughs and it's amazing how Blomkamp makes you feel for Chappie when he is being beaten up. The downside was that Chappie developed a bit quickly time wise, I understand he is meant to be more intelligent than a human but he still picks up language he would never have heard.
***½ Ryan M
March 20, 2016
Loved Chappie.... Cared more about the robot than some real life actors in other films.
March 6, 2016
I'm not sure why everyone are hating on this movie. I enjoyed it for what its worth. It has great visuals and a good story. If you like sci-fi, you'll most likely enjoy the entirety of this video, if you're not into sci-fi, don't even bother watching it. I'll give it a solid 4/5, I had a great time watching it.
***½ Dillon K
March 5, 2016
Chappie is that lovable robot that doesn't know anything and needs to learn like a little child. I like how he learns a lot more about conscience and uses it to save his friends. Small cliffhanger at the end and wouldn't mind if there were to be a sequel.
**** Andrew W
March 2, 2016
Shades of Johnny Five. An intelligent story combining RoboCop with Short Circuit. Engaging performance by Copley as the droid and able support from the rest of the cast.