Chappie is an interesting film. It is a frustratingly interesting film. I really enjoy Science Fiction films. Especially promising ones that seem to be built on an solid approach to explaining and showing artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence in a machines has always fascinated me. What would it be like? Would the machine feel? How long would it take before the machine was smarter than us? Would the learning curve be the same?
Neill Blomkamp has directed District 9 and Elysium, both very good Sci-Fi films. This time, Blomkamp and his writing partners seem to have a difficult time deciding what direction to take with the film. This is why I stated the film is frustratingly interesting. Do they show the rate of change in a child? Imaging waking up with your personality and complete person in a robot. How would you react? Also, I would like to propose that any AI robot would eventually know that they are superior to us. To borrow from Star Wars, would they become a Jedi or Sith. With that much knowledge and understanding they could either use it for good or evil.
Blomkamp and the film choose neither path and it hurts the film overall. While Chappie does the right thing and makes the right choices, there is no way a self aware being would not continue to progress and grow beyond us. Also, the most irritating part of the film is the choice of two rappers, who seem to be in their first acting job, as Chappies step parents. They just act like idiots and cartoon characters, lampooning the choice of them as thugs. They just drag the movie down whenever they are on film.
This movie is full of several interesting plot points that could have been fully fleshed out as a whole movie. A child robot with AI? A teenage AI robot? What happens when the robot becomes smarter than humans? So many possibilities squandered.
The visual effects are excellent, the sound is really good as well. Had the writing been better, this would have been an excellent film.
As it is, 2 stars – A Hitting a Mark recommendation, barely.