Thursday, March 05, 2015



From IMDB: 


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. Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Reviews: 1 user
Ratings: 8.6/10 from 360 users

From Rotten Tomatoes:

TOMATOMETER: No Tomatometer score yet...

Average Rating: N/A | Reviews Counted: 2
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 2

AUDIENCE SCORE 96% want to see
Average Rating: 4.1/5 | User Ratings: 22,526


He starts off pretty bad ass if you ignore the fact that he's draws bad luck like ants to a picnic. ©SONY PICTURES


Right, so CHAPPiE. The latest offering from Neil Blomkamp who first exploded onto the scene with District 9 which was quite a piece of work from an unknown director and especially since it was also produced by Peter Jackson and had special effects done by WETA. Then he followed that up with ELYSIUM in 2013 which was interesting if a little run of the mill. Now we have another sci-fi offering from Mr Blomkamp and also a return to his country of birth Johannesburg, South Africa.

CHAPPiE's cast includes Dev Patel, famed for his role in Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and even a Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley who voices CHAPPiE, if you've seen Blomkamp's work you'll know who he is of course. If not, he played the main character in District 9 and in ELYSIUM he played the crazed bounty hunter hired by Jodie Foster's character. It also stars two members of the rap rave group Die Antwoord who are also from South Africa. If you don't know them then that's okay. Go look them up on Youtube, I'll wait. They have an interesting sound. 

The look of disappointment when your robot isn't a sentient being. ©SONY PICTURES

So a pretty good cast, right? ELYSIUM had a pretty good cast too and it only managed a 6.7 on IMDB and a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer. I saw that and thought it was pretty average too. So sort of a step down when you compare it to District 9. So what about CHAPPiE? Well, let's get to that shall we? But first as you see up there early ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes has it pretty high. Keep that in mind. 

CHAPPiE starts off with a news report on the terrible crime situation in the city of Johannesburg and how it's being curbed with the assistance of humanoid robots made by TetraVaal. These robots are now fighting side by side with the Police to fight crime. They're also the first in the world. No other country in the world has adopted this technology this way, not US, any of the European Nations, not even the Japanese. Not even the super rich Saudi's and they give their policemen Ferrari's and Lamborghini's to use as patrol cars. Nope, the South African town of Johannesburg with it's terrible crime problem needs it first. The robots must be quite cheap or the town of Johannesburg in this movie is as rich as Saudi Arabia. Must look into doing business there. Blomkamp must know something. 

Anyway, sidetracked there for a bit. No offense meant. 

Why do all bad robots look like this? It started off with the one in ROBOCOP I think but then again there was the AT-ST walkers in Star Wars. ©SONY PICTURES

After you've been given that bit of information you get to meet robot Scout 22, and from the engineers that are looking him over you also find out that this particular robot has been a little unlucky. Every time he goes out on patrol he ends up getting damaged and sent back to Tetravaal. He gets an antennae replaced this time and is rebooted and sent right back out. 

Next you're watching a car chase. The bad guys played by the duo from Die Antwoord and their Latino friend and another member are running away from the police. They manage to ditch the police and end up at the base of another gang. Apparently they were sent to pick up drugs for this gang and failed. They are told to come back in seven days with 20 million or they'll find themselves dead. Just as things are sorting themselves out, by having one of their gang shot dead leaving just the rap rave duo and their Hispanic friend America, the police and the droids show up. All hell breaks loose. But of course they manage to escape. 

That goofy look of pride when your robot achieves consciousness and wants that Casio calculator watch that only hipsters wear these days. ©SONY PICTURES

So back at their hideout, Ninja, Yolandi and America are now in quite a situation. Either deliver the money in 7 days or die. So they start thinking. Yolandi, the pale blond little lady comes up with an idea, since whatever they need to do will probably be stopped by the robot cops why not figure out a way to turn off all of them. So the plan is to kidnap the inventor of the robots and force him to do just that. She came to this idea by comparing robots with televisions. Makes sense, everything has an off switch somewhere, right? 

So now we get to meet Deon Wilson played by Dev Patel, a very young engineer with TetraVaal and the man responsible for the robots. We also meet Michelle Bradley played by Sigourney Weaver who is Deon's boss as well as Vincent Moore played by Hugh Jackman who is a rival engineer in TetraVaal working on another robotics project. Bradley is of course happy with Wilson's work especially since the police department has placed an order for 100 of the robots to be put into police service. Moore on the other hand isn't so happy since his own project funds gets cut with every new calender year. So Moore is noticeably peeved with Wilson. 

First thing to do upon gaining consciousness. Spill milk. ©SONY PICTURES

Remember Scout 22? He was sent out with a new antennae? Well, in that scene where the gangsters have a little misunderstanding he got shot with an RPG, so he's back at TetraVaal and is on his way to being scrapped. After signing the order to have Scout 22 scrapped Wilson calls it a day and heads home, to work on his other project. At home he works on creating an AI program. On this particular night he cracks his final hurdle and he has what he thinks the very thing that he's been trying to create. An artificial intelligence program that can learn by itself. And in his excitement he rushes straight to the office to meet with Bradley to ask if he can test it out on the one of the companies robots. He gets shot down of course. But that doesn't stop him. He tells the floor engineer to hold off on destroying Scout 22 and then when no one's watching takes Scout 22 out and a few other bits and pieces. For a company that makes robots for police and military use it's quite surprising that someone can actually do this. You get caught on camera in shopping malls these days and this guy can walk out with a box full of robot parts. 

Anyway, as Wilson is making his escape with Scout 22 he gets stopped by Ninja and America and they knock him out. He wakes up at their hideout where they not-so-politely ask him to turn off all the robots so that they can get their heist done. He tells them he can't, he tells them that the robots can't be turned off. Not by him right there at least. Then they ask him about the robot he has with him. Wilson tells him it's for his own project. Then Ninja and Yolandi have the bright idea of getting the robot to work for them. So again they ask Wilson quite rudely if he can do that for them. Wilson again says no but then offers them another solution. He tells them that he can make the robot learn what they need him to do provided that they let him teach it. So they agree. Wilson now goes about uploading the AI program he's created onto Scout 22 but he can't just do it that simply to change anything in TetraVaal's robots you need the a special USB drive with a special program in it. Of course being the genius that he is he's already taken it and quite easily too. 

Second, begin to rot brain by watching 80's cartoons. ©SONY PICTURES

So now Scout 22 has a new program in his head. Once he's booted up he acts like a little frightened animal or child, I guess. Yolandi takes an immediate liking to it while Ninja thinks this it's ridiculous and a waste of time. Ninja needs a fighting machine right now, not one that acts like a child and needs to be taught. America finds it all very amusing. Wilson leaves after awhile and promises to come back even if Ninja says otherwise. 

Well, what happens next is you see Scout 22 now named Chappie by Yolandi go through the motions of learning. With Yolandi, who now takes it upon herself to become Chappie's mother he learns like a child does with their mother. Ninja on the other hand is impatient and is quite aggressive with Chappie which terrifies Chappie and makes Ninja even angrier. He tries to teach him to shoot a gun but fails. On the other hand Chappie picks up their mannerisms and way of talking really fast. Wilson on his visits tries to teach him to express himself, to believe in himself and to not listen to anyone who tells him he can't do something. He even gives Chappie a book with if I'm not mistaken a black sheep in the title. Meanwhile, Moore is suspicious of Wilson and follows him when he heads out of the office, he follows Wilson to where Chappie is and sees Chappie talking and drawing. Moore is not happy.

Art lessons should always be taken outdoors and in an abandoned factory lot. ©SONY PICTURES

Ninja of course is not pleased with any of this and takes Chappie out to the outskirts and leaves him there. Chappie gets beaten up and then burned with a Molotov Cocktail. He ends up on a hill, sitting alone. At the same time Moore is tracking him down. Remember that USB drive that Wilson used to upload the AI program? Moore wants it. So upon tracking down Chappie he blasts him with an EMP type weapon which knocks Chappie out. He drags him to the back of his truck and forcibly takes the drive out along with one of his arms. Chappie escapes of course and limps back to the hideout where Yolandi and America fixes him up. 

The next day in order to get the weapons they need to execute their heist, Ninja now calling himself daddy tells Chappie that they need to 'take' back some cars that some 'bad' people have stolen from daddy. So you see Chappie destroy the first car and then hilariously steal the others because of the lies that Ninja tells Chappie. Well, hilarious is being generous. It was sort of funny. A little bit funny. Maybe not at all. Anyway, they deliver the car to another gangs hideout and here Chappie learns and important lesson when Ninja sees Chappie looking at a dead dog. Ninja tells him that he's going to die  because his battery can't be changed and if he doesn't help them with the heist he will definitely die. Ninja tells him that if he wants to live he has to help with the heist and then daddy will buy him a new body. So Chappie agrees to do it. 

So was this intentional? Having Chappie go for a car ride and having his antennae point back like a dog? ©SONY PICTURES

So they pull off the heist and Chappie gets on the news. Remember the bad guy that told Ninja to deliver 20 million in seven days? Well, he sees the news report and now wants all the money Ninja and gang took in the heist and Chappie too. Meanwhile, Moore has created a program to disable all of Wilson's robots and is using the USB drive to upload his program to all of them. Why is he doing this? Well, he's been told during one of his presentations to the police bigwigs that his machine was too much, it was overkill. That the only way the police would even consider his machine is if all hell broke loose in Johannesburg. So guess what Moore plans to do by shutting down all of the robots working with the police? Surprisingly it works. Apparently the criminal elements of Johannesburg were just waiting for it to happen to cause riots and from what you see on screen it appears even the non-criminals were waiting for it. 

So all hell breaks loose and Moore rushes into Bradley's room to tell her whats going on and coincidentally she hasn't heard about Chappie being a stagecoach robber and hasn't seen the news report of it which is playing right then as Moore is talking to her. Moore tells her she needs to let him use his prototype if not TetraVaal and her reputation is done for. So she agrees to let him do it. Just then as Wilson is trying to figure out why all the robots have shut down he comes across a log file in the companies computer system, he now knows what's happened and points his finger squarely on Moore. Then he leaves to look for Chappie. Moore heads to his prototype.

Hugh Jackman plays a baddie in Chappie and he gets to talk with his native accent. Australian! ©SONY PICTURES

What happens next is that Wilson heads to Ninja's hideout and arrives just as Ninja and the rest arrives. Just behind them is the gang that wants the 20 million. And when all is about to go to hell, Moore's prototype arrives with him in control of it from TetraVaal's headquarters. All hell does break loose and almost everyone ends up being shot. America gets torn into two and his top half gets tossed against a wall. Yolandi also dies in the end and Wilson gets mortally wounded. Chappie is beside himself with grief and anger and promises to hurt the man that killed Yolandi and hurt Wilson. Wilson tells him where he can find Moore. 

They head back to TetraVaal and Chappie beats the living day out of Moore. With that done Chappie takes Wilson back to Moore's prototype lab. Chappie in between learning to be gangsta and true to himself has been experimenting with how to transfer his brain to another body and he's figured out how to do it with the help of a VAIO laptop and a bunch of PS4's. So he gets to work first to save Wilson. He transfers Wilson's brain to a prototype android body which is just like his but bright orange. Once that's done he instructs Wilson to do the same but this time Chappie's brain is sent to the nearest Scout unit. It works of course and they both escape. 

Life lesson number 1. If you look different you will get beaten up. ©SONY PICTURES

The final scene you see Ninja, Chappie and Wilson-bot bury Yolandi. You also see Ninja discover a USB drive with what appears to be Chappie's initial test to transfer his consciousness to a computer where he used Yolandi as a test subject. And you see Chappie hack into TetraVaal's factory and have the robots there assemble a robot with Yolandi's face. 

The End.

So now he's gangsta. Gots to hold the gun sideways too. ©SONY PICTURES

And what did I think of CHAPPiE?

Right, when I first saw the poster I actually thought it was a sequel to Jackman's Real Steel (2011) which was a fun movie. I thought that because I saw Hugh Jackman was in it. Then I saw the trailer and didn't know what to make of it. The robot design for Chappie made me think of the robot in Appleseed a Japanese Anime. Then bits of the trailer made me think of Short Circuit (1986) which is also about a robot that gains human-like intelligence and consciousness, In Short Circuit the robot was also design for Military/Police use and the engineer in charge was also supposed to be Indian, although he was played by a Caucasian man which in the case of Chappie is an Indian man with a Caucasian name. The trailer was not very obvious or telling as to what you could expect from the movie. Was it going to be an all out action movie? Was it about Artificial Intelligence? Was it going to be a fun movie about a robot learning to be human? I mean you have a title like Chappie which by any means gives you the impression it's going to be a family friendly movie and then you see the poster designs for it and it makes you think it is going to be just that. But then the trailer doesn't really give you that feeling. Confused? I was.

Anyway, after sitting through it, I can tell you it's not a family friendly movie. It's pretty okay up till the point when Moore's robot rips a man literally in half and throws the top half away like a Raggedy Anne doll. It's also not a movie for adults. Why? Well, to put it simply the treatment of it was uneven for me. The dialogue was pretty bad. Everything was pretty bad. At one point I started thinking if the script was written by a teenager. 

A skinny South African thug and a Latino gangster teach a robot the fine art of using the butterfly knife. ©SONY PICTURES

And then there's the way each character is handled. I mean you've got a cast that for the most part can and should deliver an amazing performance but nothing even near that happens and it's because the story is weak and ridiculous. And the dialogue they have them say is meaningless. It literally was for me like watching a straight to DVD movie or something you see on the SYFY channel. It was not good. I was embarrassed for Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver for being involved in this. How Blomkamp managed to get them is a triumph of something of course but I sure don't know what. Why they decided to be part of it is something I'm very curious about. 

Then of course there's the casting of the Die Antwoord duo. They're not horrible actors but really? I'm guessing Blomkamp wants to promote the South African entertainment industry and bring more money and studio interest to that part of the world but this movie certainly won't help. Maybe people will be more curious about Die Antwoord but not so much Johannesburg. Heck, the whole movie was about how badly crime-ridden Johannesburg is that it needs robots to help curb it. Why would anyone want to go there after seeing that? 

Most times when scenes like this happen it's supposed to be cool. This time it's ridiculous. It's like a bad idea for a pop group. ©SONY PICTURES

Is there nothing good about this movie? Well, the CGI work on making Chappie real was very good and the actor performing for Chappie was not too bad. But it still couldn't make me care about Chappie. I wasn't even the slightest bit warmed up to Chappie. So when Chappie managed to transfer his consciousness to another robot I wasn't at all happy or relieved. And when Wilson's consciousness was transferred to a robot that just felt stupid and ridiculous. 

Honestly speaking I didn't know what to expect from CHAPPiE. I may have not been expecting much but to be completely disappointed was quite surprising. Yeah, I know preliminary ratings on IMDB are 8.6 and the folks who visit Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 4.1/5 with 96% of people wanting to watch it but honestly I would say don't bother. ELYSIUM wasn't any good but this is bad. Just bad. I wouldn't recommend it. There's lots of other more entertaining movies. Jupiter Ascending wasn't good either but it isn't as bad as this in my mind. If you still want to watch it go ahead. But don't expect much. It's sad to see a director who exploded onto the scene with so much promise just go down hill so fast. And now there's rumors about him taking on the ALIEN franchise. I'm thinking that might not be such a good idea after watching this movie. Yes he's got a good handle on the Sci-fi genre but a handle isn't enough. This movie was bad on so many levels. And I'm just a casual movie-goer I'm not one of those movie critics who graduated from university with a degree in cinema history or something like that. I'm more of a gorilla who can string a series of words together to make some sense. 

This is probably the only cool thing that Chappie does in the big battle scene. ©SONY PICTURES

It is unfortunate that I can't give this movie a better rating. I'm being generous in giving it a 1 out of 5. This is one of the worst movies I've seen so far this year. Hopefully it isn't the worst because then that would be just sad. 




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