Review: Set in Johannesburg in the year 2016, the government takes a hard stance on gang violence by instituting a mechanized police force. Deon (Dev Patel) is the creator of these robots and has developed software that will give them human consciousness. He finds himself in competition with Vincent (Hugh Jackman) who also has a prototype law enforcement robot that's controlled by a human pilot. Against direct orders from his CEO, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) Deon selects one of his robots that has been ordered to be scraped after being damaged in a fire fight with gangs and uploads his software. When leaving the company he is captured by gang members Ninja and Yo-Landi, real life members of the rap/rave group Die Antwoord who play themselves in this fictional world. They name the robot Chappie and become his "parents" and plan to use him on one last heist to free themselves from their gangster lifestyle. The good thing about this movie is its titular character. When first activated he's like a baby. He learns to speak, develops morals and exhibits human behaviors. The CGI and voice acting (provided by actor Sharlto Copley) is masterful to create the character and some of the things he does to emulate his "parents" are genuinely funny. Besides head scratching plot devices - mostly the lax security clearance found at a company that has enough military tech to defeat a third world country on its own, there is way too much happening in this movie. Subplots upon subplots that are glossed over simply because director Neil Blomkamp loaded his movie down which inhibited the great things to truly shine. Many great questions are asked. Is human consciousness truly achievable by machines? Is it transferable? Is the human body also a machine albeit a biological one? Is our own consciousness what we define as one's "soul"? These opportunities were squandered by the inclusion of too many moral themes, an explosion of mass marketing by the Sony Corporation and questionable casting of a music group that didn't have the chops to handle the material.
Final Rating - 1.5 Stars. ~ Chris Tarride
*Sidenote - I checked out Die Antwoord and enjoyed what I saw as a music group. Very unique in look and sound and have some pretty killer beats. I agree with my buddy, Czar Taomg who saw the movie with the group, Die Antwoord will be signing a deal with Sony soon.