A film as hapless and confused as its namesake: Chappie

A film as hapless and confused as its namesake: Chappie

Ben Clyatt, Sports Editor

If you ever wondered what your parents meant when they said, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed,” then you might want to see Chappie, because that’s how you will feel after. If you enjoy spending time figuring out the underlying messages in a movie more than you enjoy the story, then you might want to see Chappie. If you want an unorganized movie with robots, explosions and jumbled themes that will leave you wondering what the heck you just watched, then you might want to see Chappie. It seems that director Niell Blomkamp was also confused when he started the movie, which ultimately left the audience with his confusion instead of his intended moral teachings.

The movie is set in the near future in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2016, Johannesburg officials deployed police robots designed by main character Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) to help reduce the city’s crime, which is a refreshing storyline we haven’t seen 20 times already.
In the 18 months since their deployment, crime in the city has, surprise, seen a drop. Since then, Wilson has secretly developed a program that gives robots consciousness and free will (because a project that unimportant is easy to keep under the radar), and he stole a damaged Scout on which to test the program.

The robot, later named Chappie, is kidnapped by a group of gangsters to aid them in crimes. The gangsters allow Wilson to visit Chappie to “raise him,” because these are well-rounded individuals who care deeply about the proper development of their crime-committing robot. However, Wilson tries teaching Chappie that the gang activities are morally wrong and that he mustn’t participate in them. The head gangster banishes Wilson from seeing Chappie, who soon learns in a plot twist no one saw coming (eye roll), that he only has days to live until his battery dies. Away from his maker, Chappie struggles deciding for himself how he will balance the life of crime he has been forced into and the moral/intellectual teachings of Wilson with the short time he has been given.

In all, the movie was a bit of a letdown, mainly due its to poor execution. The whole plot took place in less than a week, so the characters had no time to develop and came off as one-dimensional. The movie also created too many unnecessary conflicts that could have been easily avoided if the characters simply acted logically.

Due to choppy exposition and lack of character complexity, the messages in the movie are hard to find. The movie could be about any number of things, like coming to terms with our own mortality, or about the desire to live under our own free will, or even how we can become a good person despite our negative experiences in life.

It is unclear what the goal was, which is a shame, because the idea (a sentient robot who uses his experiences and personal desires to uncover his own meaning of life) was sound and could have made a great movie. Instead, like Chappie, we were left wanting more out of the time we were given.