Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chappie (2015) review


   Chappie has great special effects, a surprising amount of charm, and a surreal approach to the editing and execution, but the acting is hit-and-miss, there's barely any character development, and the plot is both preposterous and way too familiar.

PLOT: Sometime in the near future in South Africa, a company named Tetravaal arises and invents a strong, robotic police force ideal for taking down crime rates and the gangster underground. One day, the inventor of the robotic police, Deon Wilson (Dave Patel), invents a sort of robotic consciousness that can give these robots feelings and the potential to be human. When he presents this idea to Tetravaal's leader (Sigourney Weaver), however, she shoots it down and disregards it altogether. Deon, being confident in his abilities, attempts to sneak out a badly damaged robot with intentions to fix it up and run his consciousness programming on it. In the process, however, Deon is ambushed by small group of thugs containing gangster, Ninja, his girlfriend, Yolandi (Yolandi Visser), and their foreign friend, Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo). These thugs capture Deon and his robot and force him to program the robot to fight for them in their gangster wars, though Deon's new consciousness program forces the robot to have to learn slowly, like a child. With only a few days battery left on the robot (whom they name Chappie), a major heist coming up, and a jealous coworker (Hugh Jackman) out to shut down Deon's project, tensions are high in teaching Chappie how to be both a gangster and a scientific marvel. The plot has great potential and is executed fairly well, but it has a couple fatal flaws that set it away from being truly great. For one, the plot is way too familiar. The ideas of robotic cops and street education have been overdone greatly and don't add anything too fresh to this movie. Also, the plot twists just end up making the plot itself so preposterous and unrealistic that it veers into very spacey territory. The plot had potential, but it just ended up being wasted.

ACTING: The performances in this movie weren't all really solid. The majority of the performances were truly hit-and-miss. Some actors were excellent in their roles while others made you question why they were chosen for their parts. The best performances came from Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore, Dev Patel as Deon Wilson, and Sigourney Weaver as Michelle Bradley. The addition of veteran actors really helped this movie succeed performance-wise but only by a little. The rest of the performances were good in some parts and mediocre in others. It almost feels like the actors only acted right in the parts they wanted to. Sharlto Copley also did a pretty good job as the voice of Chappie.

SCORE: The score was pretty good, but the soundtrack was pretty horrible. The great Hanz Zimmer conducted the score for the movie, which was pretty fantastic in the dramatic and action-packed parts. The soundtrack, however, consisted mainly of mediocre-sounding rap and hip-hop songs, more than likely done by Ninja himself.

EFFECTS: The special effects were probably one of the best parts about the movie. The effects seemed fairly realistic at certain points in the movie. The robots looked nice and real for the most part and the explosions were pretty nice. If there was a big budget for this movie, it went mainly into the special effects and the big name casting.

OTHER CONTENT: This movie had two other prime factors that helped it succeed just a little more than it should have: its unexpected charm and its surreal editing. For a movie about robotic cops and gangsters, Chappie had a surprising amount of unexpected charm, from teaching Chappie how to be a human to seeing him become a true gangster. The charm inspires a lot of humor, which keeps the movie from truly sinking. Also, the editing in this movie made it seem so much more possible and surreal, like the beginning scenes where the robots were on CNN. However, with these great pros comes at least one more great con. This movie's character development, except for Chappie himself, was rather pathetic. From the start of the movie, we're just thrust headfirst into the main plot with possible main characters we're just supposed to be expected to know. The only true backstory we get is that of the robots themselves, and even that's minimal.

   Chappie wasn't a terrible movie, but it wasn't one of the greats either. The special effects, veteran actors, surprising charm, and surreal editing kept the movie from truly sinking, but the familiar and preposterous plot, hit-and-miss supporting cast, lack of character development, and terrible soundtrack kept it from becoming one of the greats. I would watch it again, but it's nowhere close to one of my favorites.

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