Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CHAPPiE [Movie Review]

 Last Friday I took my usual trip to the theater and ventured into the dark cavernous depths to see a film. The theater has decided, in its extremely limited wisdom, to replace two rows of seats with special new vibrating chairs. They will also charge you at extra $8 to sit in those chairs... and I assume that those stupid chairs are also responsible for my normal ticket prices going up.

Unit 22, the world's most unlucky robot...
Skipping over the desperate grasping moves that theaters and film keep making. Or not, because I'm already tired of the gimicks. I do not need to see movies in 3D, or with vibrating chairs, or in IMAX. I just want good movies, good stories... that is all I care about.
4 out of 5 stars
Stop with the gimmicks. 

It's Wolverine and Niel from Newsroom!
Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel.

Ok, lets talk about CHAPPiE.
This movie was actually somewhat surprising, in several ways.

I knew the film was going to deal with Artificial Intelligence and the normal human fear of said AI. I knew it was going to deal with crime in Johannesburg, because that city is Neill Blomcamp's location d'etre.

------ Spoiler Alert ------

I did not expect the trans-humanist aspect of the film nor did I expect the film to end with such an open ending. There was a good thing and a bad thing that I was not expecting.
The MOOSE, not the most normal name for a combat robot.

The whole trans-humanist thing starts appear about half way through the film, and is really the latter quarter of the movie in a way. I liked that, because trans-humanism is an interesting subject and one that actually melds really well with the subject of AI.

A dog comforts a robot.
If you can create a true AI, one that can judge art and decide if it liked it, one that can write poetry, appreciate literature... then the walls between man and machine fall away. If you can great that AI, and it can have a brain made of chips and processors and circuits... how much further are you from being able to transfer a human consciousness into an artificial brain? Now admittedly I find the idea of using a bank of PS4s to do it to be funny... but the question remains.

The open ending reminded me a lot of some anime that want you to imagine or create the future for these characters. However that feels more like an anime / video game move... both leaving the door open for sequels. Prehaps that was the idea here... but all of Blomcamp's earlier works like
Elysium have not evoked such a feeling. They have been stand alone films. So I was not super thrilled with it here.

However the rest of the film was strong. Especially the main character, Chappie. You really form an emotional bond with the robot. In many ways it is the most human character in the movie. It struggles with a conscience, with questioning its own reason for existence, with mortality. It learns, it grows, it desires, it fears, it hurts. It even deals with ethics. (Chappie was portrayed by Sharlto Copley who was in both of Blomkamp's prior films).

If I had to slight the film for anything other than the open ending, it would be for the gangsters. I was not moved by the simplistic and one dimensional performances of singers turned actors Ninja and Yolandi. Which are both their character names and the names they are currently going by in their band and what have you. The criminals are by far the most boring and flat characters. I'm not saying that any character beyond Chappie and Deon are really all that deep in the first place... but the criminals are flatter than most.

It was still a fun movie that gripped you, kept you watching, and was never boring. It had humor, pathos, and action. If you enjoy his gritty more realistic robots, the idea of artificial intelligence, and the concepts of trans-humanism... then this movie is worth checking out.

Go and see it.
I hope you like it because Neill Blomkamp has been picked up to direct Alien 5.

Oh, and did anyone else get a slight feel of Briarios from Chappie? Man it has been a long time since I've seen Appleseed... or any of its many successors. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved it! No surprise there, it's made by Neill Blomkamp, the same guy who made District 9 so off course it was gonna be a great film. It's got a lot of action, funny moments and Wolverine.