Eric S Brown
Released in 2015, Chappie was a moderately successful film at the box office but given mostly lackluster or bad reviews by critics. Chappie is set in a Judge Dredd/Robocop style future where crime is out of control. Scouts, armored tactical robots, are created and become the muscle of the struggling police forces. Its story centers around a trio of crooks, Ninja, Yolondi, and Amerika. In trouble with a crime lord and in need of money, they attempt to steal a means to control the Scouts but instead up the first truly self aware and conscious unit. Together with the creator of the Scouts, Dr. Deon Wilson, who they have kidnapped, raise the Scout from mental infancy to adulthood. Yolondi names it Chappie and esssential fills the role of its mother, coming to love it, while Ninja merely sees the robot as a means to an end. The film has some intense action and well done special effects but isn’t really an action movie. Instead, it’s a coming of age story told in a powerful new fashion.
The acting is high caliber across the board with Hugh Jackman portarying the movie’s villian very wickedly as an added bonus. And those performances make the film work. It’s the emotional connection any parent watching the film is likely to have with Chappie as he struggles with exactly what the life he’s been given is and what it’s purpose is that drives the film.
Chappie is filled with numerous heartbreaking moments- being betrayed by his father, seeing his mother gunned down in front of him, being attacked by a group of teenagers, etc. that can sometimes make it painful to watch. That said, there are intense moments of love, friendship, and courage that punch the viewer in the gut with just as much power.
While perhaps Chappie isn’t a film for everyone who enjoys Science Fiction, those looking for something that works on a deeper, more thoughtful level than just another shoot’em up robot movie should certainly check it out.