Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Film Review - Chappie

Bot From The Blue
Film: Chappie
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman
Duration: 2 hrs
Directed by:Neill Blomkamp
Rating: * * * 1 / 2

Even since he made that smashing debut with that apartheid-allegory film District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s films have always evoked interest. It won’t be easy to make a follow up as special as that 2009 venture, Elysium was not bad at all till it become a typical Hollywood film in the latter half.

The thing about Blomkamp is that he always throws interesting ideas. Even though Chappie has a very Robocop like base to its story (with a bit of Transcendence thrown in), yet when I walked out of the theatre after two hours, there was a feeling of satisfaction.

Set in Johannesburg (Blomkamp is South African) in a futuristic day and age, the streets of the city are manned by droids. Crime rate is down, the authorities are happy and so is the company manufacturing these robots, headed by Michelle (Sigourney Weaver).  A geek Deon (Dev Patel) is the creator of these robots but like any corporation, they are pushing for bigger and better. He is working on a program that will allow the droids to ‘think’ and infuse some artificial intelligence, his rival (Hugh Jackman) meanwhile has invested a lot of time in developing Moose, a remote controlled  robot.

Deon experiments with his new program and Chappie (Sharlto Copley) is born, he lands up in the hands of couple of hoodlums (Yolandi Visser and Ninja of the South Africa rap group Die Antworod) who try and use him for their own gains. While Chappie’s basic instincts are not to indulge in violence as he is told by his ‘maker’ he develops his own thoughts and acts as per his volition.

Consciousness in machines was something that was recently touched up by Wally Pfister in Transcendence but with limited effect, it works better here. For most parts, it is a fun film, Chappie as a character gets more fascinating as it progresses.

Sure there are some lazy bits in the middle portion but in the end, the climax redeems it all. At times the direction also looks casual in some scenes but on the whole, Blomkamps vision is admirable. He is set to direct the next installment of the Alien franchise and that would be something to look forward to. But meanwhile, let’s enjoy Chappie.

Published in The Navhind Times, Goa on 15th March 2015

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