Another Hit for Cyberpunk Cinema Favorite Neill Blomkamp, Chappie adds Heart and Soul to the Action
If you got your nerd game on point then obviously you know all about Neill Blomkamp cinematic hits like District 9 and Elysium. But what you’ve gotta see is Chappie. The 2015 hit coming-of-age tale with a remarkable twist spotlights a robot being raised by gangsters. The film itself performed well and more than doubled its budget of $49 million. It was another successful feather in the film-making cap of Blomkamp as a writer and director. The film is a bad-ass fun watch with crazy characters and insane action. Chappie is well worth anyone’s time to check out.
First-Class Cast Shines On Screen
First of all, the film features a few cool stars in surprising roles. Hugh Jackman portrays the overly eager merch salesman with the mullet from heaven. Sigourney Weaver plays the CEO of Tetravaal who has a contract to provide police robots to the city of Johannesburg. You know, kind of like Robocop. Dev Patel is the programmer who, in his spare time, is chugging red bulls and trying to crack artificial intelligence. He eventually becomes the father of the first generation AI that is Chappie.
Robocop for the New Generation
The world in this film is terrifying on its own. The idea of protocol-driven police robots enforcing the law with limited mercy and a kill/arrest choice matrix is truly horrifying. The police trust the robots to kick in doors and go in first. While that probably goes a long way towards keeping officers safe in what is described as a crime-infested environment, it also means the lives of citizens are no longer in the hands of other humans. That’s a frightening idea to ponder. It’s not a new concept for cyberpunk cinema, but Chappie does provide an updated take on it.
Die Antwoord ist Gut, Ya?
This movie also has the worldwide acting debut of the Zef-Rave-Rap act Die Antwoord, comprised of Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja. The uniquely tattooed and slang-driven pair play Chappie’s adopted parents/resident bad influences who forge his moral compass. Watching Ninja and Visser in the role of parental units is striking. It’s fascinating to see the differences between the nuclear family and the elements of an adopted one that may be influencing the potential future of humanity.
Ninja and Visser essentially play versions of the pop culture figures they’ve become, and they do so gloriously and with a heartwarming family dynamic. Their funky style manages to stand out even in a film full of colorful people.
Music is also a big part of Chappie. Die Antwoord provides most of the tracks, and they never fail to make things interesting. Their music drives the movie in the way that great soundtracks often do: keeping the audience involved and invested in the movie.
Robotic Emotions get You Right in The Feels
There is a ton of humor in the evolution and growth of young Chappie, including his not understanding how car jacking works. There are also moments of melancholy, such as when a scared young Chappie walks home through the bad part of town and is vandalized by the other kids in the neighborhood. Seeing Chappie’s journey is a thing of interest and wonder. It’s worth checking out because all but the utterly heartless with empathize with this robot.
The journey of Chappie is a scary and exciting one. The movie asks all the relevant questions along the way. What does the future of policing look like as technology comes closer and closer to these realities? There’s no avoiding the fact that drones have become more commonplace and public surveillance technologies have increased. Eventually, we will have no choice but to confront the relationship between law enforcement and robotics. Will we continue to allow these trends, even if we doom ourselves to a world like Chappie’s? Is there still hope that we can learn lessons from movies like this?
The many answers to these questions reinforce the notion that Chappie is essential cyberpunk cinema.
We know cyberpunk movies, so let us tell you what you’re missing. What’s timeless? What didn’t age so well? Share this article, and we’ll make the case for Chappie.
Did we miss something here? Was there an unforgettable scene or classic one-liner that just shouldn’t be left out? What are your favorite parts of this movie? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll try to update the article with your suggestions!