Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
Rated R sci-fi films are some of my favorite. Without the restriction of PG or even PG-13 we often get films that explore fantastic ideas in visceral and visually compelling ways. Rated R sci-fi has given us legendary films like Alien (Ridley Scott), The Thing (John Carpenter), and District 9 (Neill Blomkamp). When Chappie come out in 2015 I was very excited to see the latest from Blomkamp. When the reviews came out savaging the film I put it on my watchlist for later, now that I’ve seen it I think I made the right choice (that year my son was just one, and getting out to movies was a challenge I had to be picky) but it’s not nearly the trainwreck that critics made it out to be.
Chappie is about the birth and development of a true AI inside a police robot drone in Johannesburg South Africa. This titular AI character is masterfully played by Sharlto Copley. His performance nearly salvages the entire film, but ultimately it is a visually compelling with some poor casting choices and an inconsistent tone.
Let’s start with the good. As mentioned Sharlto Copley is a gift to acting and should be getting bigger roles, and that itself is a travesty. Hugh Jackman is also fantastic as the villian in this, I would love to see him as a villain more often, especially if he sports the 80 grade mullet and khaki battle shorts he has in this film. Sigourney Weaver is also very good albeit in a limited role.
The design and special effects for the titular character are fantastic as they manage to get a ton of emotion and physicality in a metal machine. The cinematography is really strong and the editing is very slick and tells a good visual story. The Hans Zimmer score also really drives some of the best parts of the film.
The film has its flaws and they can be linked to the biggest thing that didn’t work in this film; Die Antwoord. The South African rap duo appears very early in the film as criminals escaping a failed drug deal. At first I thought it was going to be a cool quick cameo where we show how efficient the police drone robots are as the rap duo is killed in a great chase scene similar to the open of Dredd. Instead the eclectic duo are key characters, playing themselves, albeit as South African underworld criminals instead of musicians. The combination of their neon painted assault weapons and wearing of their own real merchandise add a Kitschy element to the film that is wildly out of place in a story that should be a deep examination of what it means to be human, and the question of what is consciousness. Blomkamp could never decide if he wanted a film about a robot being a rapper/gangster or a robot learning to think for themselves. Ninja and Yolandi (the real and character names of Die Antwoord) aren’t terrible actors but their aesthetic is wildly out of place in this story.
The wild conclusion is full of giant robots, knife bombs, and cheesy action movie one liners. These are things I very much love, and enjoyed but some of which were tonally out of place. The story presented at the end of the film turned out to be the movie I actually wanted to watch. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers but I would have loved to have seen the story about Chappie and his robot family instead of the movie we got.
Overall Chappie is an enjoyable, but flawed film. A must see for any Neill Blomkamp fan.
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.