Granger on Movies: 'Chappie'
Fairfield Citizen film reviewer Susan Granger reviews the new movie, "Chappie:"
South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp catapulted to international acclaim with the subtly apartheid-themed "District 9" (2009), followed by the uneven health-care allegory, "Elysium" (2013).
Now he's back with what looks like a dystopian update of the sci-fi "RoboCop" (1987).
In Johannesburg, the police have started to use mechanical crime fighters known as Scouts with remarkable success. They're the invention of gentle, geeky Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), an artificial intelligence engineer who is now determined to develop one of his droids into a sentient creature.
That infuriates a highly competitive, bullying ex-military, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), who has devised a monstrous killing machine named The Moose, which their tech-company boss, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) refuses to activate.
Denied permission to pursue his passion, Deon steals discarded robotic parts and loads them in his van, only to be carjacked and kidnapped by a trio of moronic criminals (Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser and Jose Pablo Canbtillo) who owe money to a local crime lord.
While held captive, Deon convinces them to allow him to construct a sophisticated cyborg named Chappie. Childlike Chappie is eager to learn, yet left in the company of these thugs, he soon acquires a gangsta mentality and vocabulary.
But Deon is his "maker" and, as such, still exerts a major influence on his decision-making ability. Major conflict and carnage is not only predictable, but inevitable.
Co-writing with his wife Terri Tatchell ("District 9"), director Neil Blomkamp's convoluted concept continuously defies logic. It serves primarily as a showcase for the cyberpunk rap-rave group Die Atwoord, whose "I Fink U Freeky" has charted more than 61 million YouTube views.
Blomkamp's favorite actor, Sharlto Copley voices Chappie and plays his physicality through motion capture and CGI, evoking unfortunate memories of "Star Wars" annoying Jar-Jar Binks.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Chappie" is a chaotic 5, as the stylish heavy-metal hardware short-circuits.
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