CHAPPIE: Proof that you shouldn’t always listen to movie critics.
I could barely contain my excitement when the media invite for CHAPPIE hit my inbox. A fan of DISTRICT 9, I was interested to see what director Neil Blomkamp had in store for us with his third cinematic offering.
His second flick, ELYSIUM, was undeniably enjoyable yet it lacked the integrity and grit of his debut feature. The teaser trailer for CHAPPIE looked great, and the incorporation of post-ironic rap group Die Antwoord was intriguing. In short, my expectations were high.
As my personal film-reviewing process dictates, I avoided ALL media surrounding the flick prior to my viewing: No full trailers, no reviews, no news articles….nothing! So let’s just say I was a tad surprised to see the rash of bad reviews post film.
Just goes to show; sometimes critics have no idea what they’re crapping on about.
CHAPPIE is set in the near future in Johannesburg, South Africa. Crime is controlled by a mechanized police force, yet droid creator Deon (Dev Patel) takes things a step further, successfully programming an irreversibly damaged droid (Chappie) with a subconscious. As you could expect, most mere mortals don’t deal with this too well, with some using Chappie for ill, and others determined to destroy him completely. Meanwhile, Chappie just wants to live.
Sure it’s not an original idea; films exploring A.I are hardly rare. Yet few plots are entirely original these days thus I don’t judge Blomkamp for it.
CHAPPIE certainly feels as though it is a return to what Blomkamp loves: Sci-fi, South Africa and unusual friendships. It feels more personal than ELYSIUM, and this is most welcome.
CHAPPIE also has the surreal addition of South Africa’s homegrown rap group Die Antwoord whose music and imagery dominate the film in an unabashed – almost self indulgent – manner. We’re talking clothes and sets emblazoned with garish Antwoord art, and Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack is all but over-powered by Ninja and Yolandi’s rap-raves.
It’s a bizarre move that has arguably defined the whole tone of the film. Yet I found it intriguing, strange and ultimately wonderful.
CHAPPIE offers a hefty serve of both comedy and social conscience. It’s a little heavy handed at times, and often borders on corny, yet I laughed freely and embraced the warm and fuzzy parts… It’s cute, it’s ridiculous and it carries a little message: No harm in that!
CHAPPIE is a downright joy to watch. Ignore the naysayers and give it a try yourself. It’s a bizarre mash of filmmaking choices: Predictable clichés sit side-by-side with the weird and wonderful. There’s something for the masses, yet the film still maintains it’s integrity. Ultimately, it all adds up to deliver the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in a long time. I rate it 8 stars.