The Bottom Line: Short Circuit meets Robocop in this visually bombastic, narratively schizophrenic flick about a reprogrammed robot fresh-mindedly learning about the societal scrapheap around him via his ‘adoptive’ Johannesburg, hip hop gang-banger parents. Yes, everything you just read there is true – I’m assuming you’re either in or out at this point. This is a tale of two movies. The first half (or first movie; aka the better movie) provides a barrage of goodwill via the endearingly beautiful CG design, intimately human-like movements and provocatively nuanced voice work of the titular character. Sharlto Copley caringly breathes a great deal of life and childlike wonderment in to the motion-capture of CHAPPiE and it’s fairly wonderful to watch it all unfold. Additionally, a cartoonishly khaki-clad Jackman effectively chews scenery and our titanium toddler finds a beating heart in a few well played motherly love scenes (that were, admittedly, far superior when I first saw them in Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence). Then the second half shows up and hits like a spade shovel to the head – where warmth and intrigue are jettisoned by an overreliance on unfocused, heavy metal warfare. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, but not for the reasons you’d think. It’s not complicated; it’s just not that interesting. Bullets fly, characters scuttle, people yell and there’s some ridiculous dialogue that dares to give meaning to all the mayhem. It doesn’t. It all comes across as forced, flat and fairly forgettable no matter how many saucepan-depth ideas on coddling, culture and consciousness are hurled in to the mix. The entire second half wraps us in redundancy and, like the man of tin himself, ends up heartless and hollow. This movie’s not as bad as many critics are leading you to believe, but you’ll have to dig for the goods – so just remember that with this robot movie…some assembly is definitely required.
Starring: Charlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yolandi Visser, Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp (District 9 and Elysium)
Rated: R (for violence, language and brief nudity)
Running time: 114 minutes
Story: 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. (C) Sony
Official site: www.chappie-movie.com