I was a huge fan of DISTRICT 9, and when I saw Neill Blomkamp was directing another scifi feature I hoped it would deliver on the high quality of his previous film. I was not disappointed.
Chappie (2015) follows the adventures of an unlikely group of characters. It centers on robot design engineer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) who has built an army of mechanized cops that patrol South Africa. Inspired by his success and his love of mecha, he goes on a quest to create a sentient robot and succeeds in giving consciousness to a damaged patrol robot that becomes Chappie (Sharlto Copley).
However, three thugs – Ninja, Yo-Landi and Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo) have other plans. They want to kidnap Patel and have him shut down the police force so they can pull off a huge heist and pay off a competing crime lord. Rounding out the cast are Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) as Patel’s arch-nemesis (who has designed a human-piloted, remote controlled tank) and Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) as Deon’s by-the-book boss.
Strong Story with So Many Intriguing Themes
Chappie’s character arc is really interesting. He begins the story as an infant, unable to talk and fearful of the outside world. Over time he learns through his experiences: he knows there’s a creator who cares about him and wants him to reach his full potential. Chappie spends his days with a mother, father and brother figure who want to use him to their own ends.
IMHO from a story perspective this was one of the most original scifi films I’ve ever seen, alongside Blomkamp’s District 9. There are so many deep and engaging themes here – why are we here, does God exist, are we “bad” because of our environment or because of how we’re “wired,” and by the way what is “bad” anyway?
The themes in the film are like the flavors in a finely crafted soup: they all come together and mingle in ways that make each one’s presence known without interfering with one another in any way. It sounds complex – and it is – but at no time as a viewer did I feel overwhelmed.
The performances across the board are engaging and overall fantastic. There are a couple of “huh?” moments that you’ll think about after the movie’s over, but they don’t detract from the very engaging story.
Overall, I rate this a must-see for any scifi or speculative fiction writer.