The Daily Illini

Box office report: “Chappie”

By Jack Heyden

There are only so many hypothetical portrayals of the future that you can lay in front of an audience until a film loses credibility, and that is exactly where “Chappie” went astray.

Telling lies has always been a major gray area in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. In fantasy, you can get away with it a little easier because the entire universe of your movie is a fabrication; but in sci-fi films like this one, the filmmakers attempt to give us a real picture of the near future. So when robots started coming to life and minds were transferred through computers from one place to the next, I started to drift from the true message of this film: Young lives are fragile and they must be cared for intently.

Instead, the film forces an elaborate climax down our throats that is unnecessary. Yet, that is not to say that the plot was not interesting, because at one point I found myself completely intrigued by the hapless Chappie and his struggle to adapt to the cruel world around him. The film ultimately asks the audience: What if robots could think and feel like real human beings?

More than this — and what is truly unique — is that Chappie was born mentally as a baby, and must be taught like any infant. Being that his mind is so highly developed he experiences the world like no newborn ever has, and this is what made the movie so compelling for a period of time. Unfortunately, a few overdone combat scenes coupled with an unnecessary plot twist lost my interest almost completely.

I felt that writer/director Neill Blomkamp, who has certainly trademarked his style at this point, decided to make the story deeper than it needed to be. I would have loved to see more of Chappie’s acclimation to society than to see the ending that we were given. What we get in “Chappie” is more of the same from the minds behind “District 9” and “Elysium”, but instead of getting the beauty of “District 9” we get more of the haphazard grit of “Elysium”. All of Blomkamp’s movies have strong undertones that question real life problems and apply them to fictional futures.

“Chappie” had massive potential from its inception, but it just didn’t have the execution that would have put it in the echelon of a “District 9”. The movie started off strong, but lost its way very quickly in the last half hour or so.

I give “Chappie” a FAIL.

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