Quick Review: Chappie (2015)

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District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s third feature is both funny and madly action-packed, but the film’s wayward tone means that it’s a little too offbeat.

Chappie has already drawn comparisons to a number of similar Artificial Intelligence based films, including Ex Machina and I, Robot, but where Blomkamp’s offering distinguishes itself is in the dystopian setting of a gritty, near-future Johannesburg; it is at once beautiful and rife with both depravity and deprivation. Dev Patel is slightly unconvincing as the designer of a new wave of police droids, Deon Wilson, who comes to reprogram one so that it becomes sentient. The result is Chappie, who is able to display genuine emotion, played admirably by Charlto Copley in motion-capture. Chappie is nurtured and corrupted by a group of South African gangsters, played by the rap-rave duo Die Antwoord in an unusual casting move. However, the success of the film’s many action set pieces is undermined by a few too many moments which jar with the underlying action-thriller tone of the film. There are stylistic similarities to Blomkamp’s debut District 9, but the darkly comic tone which backboned this feature is not realised in Chappie. There are good moments, and some big questions surrounding true artificial intelligence are posed, but overall it is a little too muddled. With Blomkamp in line to direct the next Alien sequel, sci-fi fans will be resting a little uneasily after this underwhelming benchmark.

★★★☆☆      IMDb: 7.4      Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

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