Bru’s Reviews – CHAPPIE AIN’T CRAPPY March 10, 2015 – Posted in: Blog, Bru's Reviews, Featured Columns
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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Can a robot be human? South African director of DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM Neill Blomkamp and his go-to actor Sharlto Copley think so. The first trailer made this look like a “coming of age” sap-fest about a robot “boy” being raised by human “parents.” The second one looked like it was a sci-fi action flick full of fights and suspense. Happy to say it’s a mix of both, with a lot of violence and swearing thrown in fer fun.
Written by Neill Blomkamp and Teri Tatchell. Directed by Neill Blomkamp.
- Thanks to the geniuses at Weta Digital and others, the special effects and CG of the robots works perfectly. The motion-capture technique that worked so well with Andy Serkis on LORD OF THE RINGS, HOBBIT and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES as a primate works with Copley as a mechanical man. He moves like a perfect combination of man and machine.
- Like Blomkamp’s other flicks, acting is top notch. Dev Patel (as Deon Wilson, Chappie’s “maker”), Hugh Jackman, Yolandi and friends are all believable, from good to bad to nasty. (Apparently, Yolandi and her badass beau Ninja, who use their “real” names, are a rave-rapper couple from the group Die Antwoord who also act.)
- Speaking of nasty, Jackman is a total jerkman here. No singing, dancing or claw-popping heroics–total a-hole with a horrible haircut. And unlike the wasted Samuel Jackson-with-ridiculous-lisp-and-silly-hat in KINGSMAN, ol’ Hugh pulls off jerky perfectly. (You pansy-types who balled over LES MISERABLES will have to wait till HOOK to see him in a gay costume and his next Broadway show for the singing crap.)
- Even the environments meld well with the technology. There are gritty ghettos and sleek tech buildings, but they all feel real and current (technically it takes place a year from now).
- At least one of the badguys gets what’s coming to him and we get to relish in his bully beatdown–a true rarity in the movies (and TV) for some dumb reason. (I was the only one applauding in a theater apparently full of clueless liberals.)
- Those who dig “deep” stuff, philosophical questions, “movies with meaning” and all that crap will be delighted with this. There are illusions [MIKE: he means “allusions”] to religion, God, man, and their roles all over the place. (Thankfully, for those real men like me, they don’t get much in the way of the action, suspense, fighting, bullets and booms!)
- People in film class will have plenty to discuss. This one works for high- and lowbrows.
- Those who think American films are full of violence ain’t been to Johannesburg–that place is as badass as Detroit on a bad day. Don’t f*** with South Africans!
- Along those lines, the SA gangsta look is even more over-the-top than the American version. These guys borrowed from our rap culture and took it to level C for Crazy. The tattoos and haircuts especially. (Yolandi should have her own shirt line. My favorite was “Who Need T**s.” Heh…I do!)
- Some good comedy to lighten things a bit. The usual “robot learning language” stuff but with some clever takes. I especially dug the bit about using knives to make people go “sleepy-weepy.” (Although I much prefer too much beer for that.)
- Sigourney Weaver plays a tech company CEO with her usual ballsy touch. But she never kicks physical butt, unfortunately.
- I really want some of those weapons–and home robots! Especially the neuro-helmet with my own battle-bott. Hope I can add ’em to my Amazon wish list this Christmas.
- Great twists at the end that I didn’t see coming and thankfully weren’t telegraphed in the previews (for a welcome change!). But it brings up some disturbing questions to play the “Would You Rather?” game wit’ yer buddies afterwards.
- Again, no boobies or butts! I’m reeeeeally getting tired of these ultra-violent films with no nudity/sex to balance out the bloodshed. (Yolandi’s Moe Howard haircut ain’t hot but the bod didn’t look too bad, from what little they showed. Of course, Ninja walks around topless with no problem!) And anyone who says Americans are the only ones who do it need to see this. WTF, world?
- I admit I don’t know company policies in South Africa, but I’m pretty sure there, like here in the US of A, if you threaten a co-worker with a gun in the office, your boss would find out and you’d get fired. Or at least asked to take an unpaid vacation and get counseling!
- When the badguy “Hippo” (Brandon Auret) speaks, there are subtitles. But he’s actually easier to understand than the super-fast South-African-accented chatter of Ninja.
- Pay attention to when “low battery” is mentioned the first time. If my phone and laptop lasted that long after such a notice, I could charge them once a week!
- Fans of the original ROBOCOP will note the Moose bot to be suspiciously similar to the ……. (If this was an intentional tribute or designed by the same dude, it could be a “Pro”, but not knowing either, comes off like a lame ripoff.)
- One bad guy doesn’t buy the farm and the most evil one gets it off-screen (actually behind another character). Not satisfying. The more evil a character is, the more deserving and satisfying his downfall must be. Top three writing rule in my book.
- If you have access to the entire Internet and can scan every bit of human knowledge in minutes, I think you’d find out the truth about the effects of metal throwing stars before having to test them in the field. Jus’ sayin.’
- Why do some of these people cross themselves before doin’ a buncha killing? Is that a Catholic thing?
- The film opens 18 months ahead of the rest of the movie with some quotes from TV talking heads, including Anderson Cooper (whose show will certainly not be around by then) regarding CHAPPiE–that could refer to either the police robot program/project, or the main character. The movie ends in the past and never gets back to that “present” so there seems to be no reason for that intro at all. I’d have to see that part again to hopefully make any sense of it.
- “Why did you make me just to die?” I find myself asking God that question every time I eat too much chili.
I didn’t pay extra fer DFX or IMAX or whatever and I don’t think it would enhance the movie that much. There are plenty of shoot-em-ups and stuff that would work well, but it’s more about the main character and what happens to him that draws you in and keeps you watching. The other stuff is just cake icing. This was much better than the lame previews and had a satisfying ending for a change. Better than ELYSIUM and just as good if not better than DISTRICT 9. Enjoy it and then think about it.
P.S.: Want a robot or boobs and butts (or robots with boobs and butts) you can put on your wall? Get an original art commission from Pascale. Mention CHAPPiE and get 20 percent off! Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, South Africans, residents of Jo-burg, Hispanic African-Americans, Australian-Africans, sentient or non-sentient robots. I am REALLY glad that they didn’t get Perry Farrel to do a theme song with “Chappie” instead of “Happy”!