Meet Chappie, he is a police scout droid like no other. Set in what looks like the not too distant future, society is getting a little out of hand for the authorities in Johannesburg South Africa. To regain order the police are always looking for new ways to keep control. They start using a series of robots to maintain what order they can. Ok, yes this sounds familiar. It's similar in theme to Robocop so there is no getting away from that. But Chappie has a totally different fresh feel about it. This is an intelligent movie. It boldly approaching aspects of modern life in a thought-provoking way whilst being incredibly funny and touching.
Neil Blomkamp who co-wrote the movie with his wife also produced and directed this film. Blomkamp was born in Johannesburg and has built a reputation for creating a style all his own. District 9 is a great example which he also co-wrote with his wife Terri Tatchell. District 9 raised significant questions regarding acceptance and Chappie is no different but with a lot more charm. As with District 9, the film is shot with special cameras. They give it a completely unique style, whilst being incredibly realistic. The detail is wonderful. Blomkamp's direction is simply perfect for the story and delivery of the script which keeps the movie moving along at a great pace.
Sharlto Copley, who also appeared in District 9 and Elysium gives an outstanding performance as Chappie. It seems that he has built a great relationship with Blomkamp. This is great because he is an incredible talent and the childlike Chappie really displays how diverse his skills are. The rest of the cast is great with some big names on board like Sigourney Weaver, Dev Patel and also Hugh Jackman. They all give solid performances and Jackman is hilarious in parts as a deranged ex-soldier who is out to prove his point. But the surprise performances come from Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja from the music band Die Antwoord. They play a kind of parody of themselves which is extremely bizarre at first but really works.
Now there is no doubt that Blomkamp is raising some significant questions in this film and the critics seemed to tear the film apart due to the child like naivety of Chappie. But in my opinion they are missing the point somewhat. It is this naivety that pulls the audience in to observe the bizarre world through his eyes and it is hard not to fall for this lovable character. Overall this is a wildly outrageous crack at this type of robot movie. It is hugely entertaining, packed full of laughs and may even pull a tear or two along the way. Highly recommended. And if you like Chappie, check out another great sci-fi series called Altered Carbon on Netflix (review here).
Update: Chappie is now available on Netflix.