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.
Unfinished Business 2015
Review: The film follows businessman, Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) on a quest to make his small business successful while finding balance with his family life. Dan gets tired of being pushed around by his boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller) and ventures off on his own to make a deal only to find he's in direct competition with her. Joined in his new venture are his colleagues Tim McWithers (Tom Wilkinson) who is laid off due to his age and basket case, Mike Pancake (Dave Franco). The trio go on a business trip to "get the handshake" from a new client and go on a race throughout Europe while attempting to thwart Chuck Portnoy in the process. Each of the three leads have a specific reason as to why their livelihood depends on getting the account - Dan to improve the lives of his children, Tim to escape an unhappy marriage and Mike to prove he isn't an incompetent idiot. The movie has its moments but sadly covers no new ground. Vince Vaughn is in typical form. It's not the content of what he does but it's all in his delivery. Tom Wilkinson is competent in his role while Dave Franco is effective for about 15 minutes. I felt as if the writers took Old School, mixed it with Euro Trip and then watered it down immensely. This is reportedly Vaughn's 5th box office bomb in a row. I really like him and I'm thankful he has True Detective Season 2 to give him a boost. I hope it helps him.
Final Review: 1.5 Stars ~ Chris Tarride
Andrew (Miles Teller) attends one of the most prestigious jazz conservatories in the country and earns a top spot in the performance band run by cutthroat instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who berates his students to tap into their greatest potential. I've seen most of what was considered the best offerings in film of 2014 and I have to say that Whiplash resonated with me the most. Though not as extreme, I was involved in the band program in high school with an instructor that demanded excellence and had zero problems calling you out in front of your peers. Before I saw the film I had people comment on the Monday Night Movie Krewe page that I didn't even know claiming the movie promotes bullying (sadly they've removed the comments so I couldn't respond). I see it differently. No matter what you do in your life there will always be assholes (we softly call them "bullies" now) that will test your patience and many who will take great joy in trying to break you. The question is will you stick your lip out and walk away or will you face adversity, use it to inspire you to create your greatest performance and shut down the person that tries to break you? I'm very pleased I was able to see this film in the theater. I've always been a fan of J.K. Simmons. I became familiar with him on HBO's prison drama "Oz" and was awestruck by his ability to portray someone truly ruthless. He's in top form and certainly deserved the Oscar win for his performance. Miles Teller shows his intensity as a young kid not only trying to win the top spot in a band but be truly great and be a renown master of his skill. Highly recommended. ~ Chris Tarride
Final Rating: 4 Stars