FlixChatter Review: CHAPPIE (2015)

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Neill Blomkamp burst into Hollywood fame with his film debut District 9, a film that was well-received by both critics and audiences alike; although I’m not a fan of it myself. Then he hit a sophomore slump with Elysium, it wasn’t a great movie but I enjoyed it more than District 9. For his newest outing, he went back to his hometown and made a smaller scale sci-fi action thriller. Unfortunately it’s one of worst movies I’ve seen this year so far.

Set in just a year from now, the city of Johannesburg is control by robotic police force known as Scouts. An opening that’s similar to District 9, a news TV crew is interviewing people at a company that build these robots. One of them is the designer of the Scouts, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), he’s a very smart engineer who wants to make these robots into more than just policing the streets. He wants to make them more human, after cracking codes on how this could be achieved; he pitched the idea to his boss Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver). She didn’t think it would benefit the company’s interests and refused to finance it. We also get to know Wilson’s rival at the company, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman, sporting an awful mullet from the 80s). He’s been trying to get funding for his own robot project but Bradley wouldn’t give him the money because the Scouts are doing fine protecting the city. Later we see the Scouts in action; they got into a shootout with some thugs, two of them turned out to be the main human leads of the movie, South African rappers Ninja and Yolandi. The two thugs and one of their crew members Yankie (Jose Cantillo) were able to escape and we learned that they owe the city’s crime lord lots of money. They came up with a plan of kidnapping the Scouts’ designer Wilson and force him to “turn off” the robots so they can commit their crimes and pay back the crime lord Hippo (the very over acting Brandon Auret).

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Wilson is still upset from the news that his boss won’t finance his new pitch to her, decided to steal one of the Scouts that was inline for decommissioned and take it home to build his more human robot. However on his way home, Ninja’s gang ambushed him. They saw the robot in his van and ordered him to build them a Scout that would help them commit crimes. Wilson agreed but warned them that this new robot is not like the others and it needs to learn things before it can function normally, it’s basically a child and they named it CHAPPIE. For most of the movie, we had to sit through excruciating scenes of Yolandi and Ninja teaching Chappie to become human and act like a thug, I’m not kidding you. The promos for this movie made it appear that it’s about Chappie becoming some sort of savior for the human race but that never happened in the movie.

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I’ve never heard of rappers Ninja and Yolandi (Die Antwoord) and I assume they’re quite popular in South Africa and Europe. Now the only reason why Blomkamp decided to cast them as leads was maybe because he’s a big fan of them, that’s my assumption anyway. They cannot act and I cringed every time they’re on the screen teaching Chappie how to be human. Apparently we’re supposed to care about these thugs even though their plan is to commit crimes in order to pay off their debts. The rival between Wilson and Moore became a subplot and I just don’t care about any of these characters. Sigourney Weaver has now become that once-famous actress whom director will only use sparingly and she’s on the screen for maybe 5 minutes. The main star of course is Chappie, voiced by Sharley Copley and unfortunately he’s quite annoying. We’re supposed to care about his growth of becoming more human but I just didn’t care for any of that.

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The script by Blomkamp and his wife Terri Tatchell was amateurish. They came up with some good ideas but threw all that away by focusing story on thugs teaching Chappie to be human and included too many clichés that we’ve seen many times before. There’s no doubt that Blomkamp knows how to shoot movies, his previous two pictures looked great and this one is no exception. It’s a good example of how good digitally-shot movie could look. But his storytelling skill is questionable, he tried to juggle so many things in this movie and they all just fell flat. I actually wanted to walk out halfway through but I didn’t because I knew there’s going to be a big action scene at the end. Well he delivered in that department, the climatic shootout was well-staged and very exciting but by then I didn’t care about any of the characters and just wanted the movie to end. The only other positive thing I can say about the movie was Hans Zimmer’s pulse-pounding score. As usual his music shines, especially in action scenes. But scores alone can’t save a crappy movie.

I didn’t have any expectations going into this movie because I don’t think Blomkamp is as talented as Hollywood thinks he is and here’s a proof of it. The movie feels like it’s a film student project that he somehow conned a big studio to finance it. It’s a trifecta of bad acting, writing and directing.

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Have you seen Chappie? Well, what did you think?

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39 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: CHAPPIE (2015)

  1. Ted I am with you 100% when it comes to Bloomkamp. Hollywood and many moviegoers love him but I haven’t been impressed at all. His movies often look good but they are so full of themselves and heavy handed. Now he is handling an Alien film? Sigh….

    1. Hey Keith, yeah Blomkamp thinks he makes some kind of important films but in reality all of his movies were just crappy action pictures. I won’t be surprised at all if the new Alien film never go into production, with Chappie tanking badly, I highly doubt Fox will want to give him big money and control on their franchise.

        1. I like D-9 but Elysium was a huge disappointment & this one sounds horrid, so yeah I’m with you and Ted that I hope Fox won’t give Blomkamp the Alien project. In fact, I think they should leave that franchise well enough alone unless either Cameron or Fincher would do it.

          1. Agreed. It’s a shame too because Blomkamp has a unique visual style. But as far as I’m concerned he still needs to prove himself.

  2. Oh dear, not a fan of Blomkamp but was becoming mildly interested in this. Doesn’t sound like it’ll sway my opinion and certainly doesn’t allay my fears about Alien 5 (if Chappie bombs will Fox still let him take on one of their most valuable franchises).

    Goo review Ruth!

  3. Oh dear. Sounds horrid – a convoluted, badly judged mess. I actually had high hopes having loved District 9 but now my expectations have been tempered somewhat. I’m now worried about him messing up the new Alien sequel. Bring back JAMES CAMERON!

    1. I wasn’t a fan of DISTRICT 9 but I know many people loved it. I think most people seems to forget that Peter Jackson was his mentor on District 9 and the film was well received. His last two pictures, Blomkampt has total control and many people hated them. As mentioned before, I won’t surprised if Fox decided to pull the plug on the new Alien film. Or they just won’t let Blomkampt have total control on the script and for sure he’ll be closely watch during the shoot.

    1. Lol, yeah I never thought I would ever mention the word “mullet” when I review a movie in this decade. It’s a very dreadful movie, one of the most excruciating movie experiences I’ve ever had to sit through.

  4. Stu

    I’ve just seen this earlier today and I agree with your review – its dismal. I actually really liked District 9, but didn’t enjoy Elysium…this is even worse!

    1. It would help if Blomkamp get some other writers to flesh out his scripts. But like most well know directors, they tend to change things during the shoot and make the movie the way they want. To me, I’m not sure if Blomkamp is a good director and story teller.

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ted:

    Interesting, no hold barred critique,

    Wasn’t a huge fan of ‘District 9’. So I really didn’t expect any grand revelations with ‘Chappie’.
    It feels like Hollywood wants a quick replacement for M. Night Shaymalan. And Blomkamp is/was being groomed to fill that void. While nether are exceptional directors. And ‘Chappie’ look all over the map!

    1. You know what’s funny, I thought M. Night was going to be a great filmmaker for a long time and was a big fan of his. Then he started making crap like The Village and Lady in the Water, after those two films, I refuse to watch any of his new movies. He’s a definitely a hack and Blomkamp might be on his way of becoming known as a hack.

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  7. I can’t decide which reviews are more scathing and which film sounds worse, this or Jupiter Ascending. LOL…I kind of can’t wait to see both and tear into them! Great review!

    1. LOL, I didn’t even bother with Jupiter but I know Ruth had to sit through that film. Having sat through this excruciating film, I don’t ever want to waste two hours of my life with Jupiter. But for sure it’s fun to to trash them since they were made my “respectable” directors.

  8. Nice work Ted! I cannot say that the trailers impressed me, and I am in no rush to see this because I am not a huge Blomkamp fan (I am all happy we have someone representing out there for us and all but I have yet to watch a flick of his and enjoy it). Plus there is the whole issue of Die Antwoord, and they are beyond tacky and nasty. Not something I want to see, and your review reflects why.

    1. Thanks Zoe, I’ve always been that person saying Blomkamp is not really good director yet, I hope his future work will change my mind but so far I’ve not been impressed with any of his work. He’s great at making his movie looks beautiful but that’s a small part of making a good movie, he needs help with the screenplay and of course putting the movie together and he needs to STOP making these kind of social commentary films.

      If you’re not a fan of Die Antwoord then I highly recommend you stay away from this movie, they’re mainly the leads of the story.

  9. You weren’t kidding when you said you hadn’t been kind on Chappie 🙂 I can appreciate your points though Ted. I think the villains were caricatures and the parenting threads could have been more convincing with different actors. I still enjoyed the social commentary though and preferred it to the action packed final act. I’m interested to see where he takes the Alien franchise.

    1. Ha ha, I didn’t have much expectations for it but didn’t think it’d be this bad. I don’t know if Fox will let Blomkamp take over the Alien franchise now that Chappie tanked at the box office and got tons of bad reviews. Even if they green light the project, he’s going to be closely watch by the big wigs at the studio, he won’t have total control of the project anymore.

  10. Sorry you didn’t like this one, Ted. It’s flawed, but I did enjoy it. I also liked Elysium, despite its flaws, and District 9, though I think it’s a little overrated.

    1. Hey Josh, I didn’t expect much from it but didn’t think I would ended up hating it. I think with a better script and actually good actors for the leads, it could’ve been good. There are so many good ideas within the script that would’ve worked better, I just didn’t care for the story of these thugs raising a child robot. I would prefer seeing the corporate rivalry between Jackman’s and Patel’s characters or focus the story on how these robots effects the rest of the world when it comes to policing the streets.

  11. Pingback: Movie Review – Chappie |

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