Chappie

Chappie is a story about a robot that obtains true consciousness. Unfortunately, the circumstances of doing so are a complete mess to put it lightly and he gets thrown into a conflict involving a gang with a bounty on their head if they can’t come up with enough money, the controlling gang of Johannesburg, the police (including their own robotic police force), his maker Deon, and Deon’s rival Vincent. Ultimately, the plot was far too convoluted. There were too many players. Too many plot elements. And unsurprisingly far too many plot holes. And not just the ones kind of off to the side that you have to think about to notice. Ones that were blatantly in your face and left you confused or yelling “THAT MAKES NO SENSE” at your screen. Most of the time I brush off plot holes or inconsistencies, but for stories like these where science and the technical aspects are incredibly important, that’s not really possible. So the overarching plot itself ultimately came out pretty strange. It wasn’t terrible, but I would say it was OK at best.

Still, there was a lot to like about the movie. Watching Chappie develop was similar to watching a new born grow in fast forward alongside watching a major breakthrough in technology at the same time. Plus watching how everyone else alongside him was amazed with him and grew alongside him to a lesser extend added to that. Chappie was a great character that I truly came to care for. Deon too was reasonably likable in that he was truly passionate about AI and Chappie. The rest of the cast wasn’t so likable. The film seemed to try to make you sympathize with gang members who blatantly terrorized the innocent populace for no real reason than their own benefit. Sorry mate. Not happening. And hence a lot of the emotions that I was supposed to feel just didn’t happen and those scenes came out hollow. On the flip side, I managed to sympathize with Vincent, who seemed to be shown as the most ‘villainous’ villain in the movie, who they really tried to ram in that you’re not supposed to like, more than that. He had a project that he was trying to create and was truly passionate about, but was in serious risk of being abandoned because of Deon stealing the spotlight. Frankly, I thought the project was awesome. The movie tries to portray it as a horrible machine with Deon outright saying so, but I thought it was pretty damn cool and I can understand his desperation in wanting to continue it. Though I don’t sympathize with hate for robot consciousness and whatnot and obviously don’t condone his actions, I can sympathize to a pretty high degree.

Ultimately what I liked best about this movie was the technology being cool. It wasn’t blatantly futuristic sci-fi but was placed in a world that’s very similar to ours today and thus it had more of an impact than the fantasy like tech often seen in sci-fi. Furthermore, there was a continuous stream of breakthroughs throughout the movie. First with the robot police force. That eventually leading to Chappie. That leading to him exploring what it means to copy consciousness. And eventually creating new bodies for those consciousnesses. Though in many of these cases these concepts were touched upon more lightly than I would like, especially consciousness, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to consider it a reasonable use of minimalist story telling. Also, as mentioned, Vincent’s robot was awesome.

As for some of the other aspects, I would usually consider the music to be complete garbage but I somehow enjoyed it a great deal in context, and thought it an interesting gimmick to use the artists of the music as the actors. The graffiti art that decorated the world was also interesting and gave it a unique sense of style. There is blatant Sony product placement too in terms of electronics, but I’m a major Sony fan so I’m completely fine with it. 20 PS4s are enough to process consciousness. Most powerful console of all time indeed.

Overall a movie with a lot of good parts that manage to salvage it despite the sum of its parts not being all that great.

8/10

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