Thursday, April 21, 2016

Film Friday: CHAPPiE (2015)

Though I doubt Director Neill Blomkamp would admit this, but his latest film CHAPPiE is Robocop 2. Robocop 2 was a fun, though flawed movie. CHAPPiE, on the other hand, sucked. In fact, they should have called it CRAPPiE. Skip this one.

The Plot

Robocop 2 is the story of a man who has been turned into a robot and now works as a police officer in Detroit. The evil corporation that built him decides they need to destabilize Detroit so they can sell their new combat robot the ED-209. They want to give the ED-209 a chance to show what it can do in terms of restoring order. To do this, they corrupt Robocop’s programming and make him useless, letting crime run rampant. Eventually, Robocop frees himself from the programming and he takes on the evil ED-209 robot built by the evil corporation and destroys it.

Now tell me if this sounds familiar.
CHAPPiE is the story of a robot who works as a police officer in Johannesburg, South Africa who gets turned into a man, or at least becomes sentient. A key employee (Hugh Jackman) at the evil corporation that built him decides he needs to destabilize Johannesburg so he can sell his new combat robot (let's call it, hmm, how about the ED-209a?). He wants to give the ED-209a a chance to show what it can do in terms of restoring order. To do this, he corrupts all the police robots and shuts them down, letting crime run rampant. Eventually, CHAPPiE’s friends teach him morality (or at least a sense of revenge) and then he takes on the evil ED-209a robot built by the evil employee and destroys it.
There is a twist at the very end which is meant to "elevate" the film, but honestly you won’t care. Basically, CHAPPiE is a police robot which gets destroyed by the evil gang from The Road Warrior. Rather than scrap him, the Indian scientist from Short Circuit realizes that in death, CHAPPiE has become alive. Don’t ask the film to explain it though, because it won't. Dr. Short Circuit tries to take CHAPPiE home to work on him, but he gets kidnapped by the Road Warrior gang who want their own police robot. Dr. Short Circuit gives them the robot and they name him and feed him and teaching him how to be white trash. Soon, he’s garbling his lines in ghetto South African, he’s wearing rapper gear, and he’s jacking cars. Isn’t that cute? Anyways, at the end, CHAPPiE figures out how to transfer his consciousness into another robot. He does the same for the dying Dr. Short Circuit and for the dead white trash chick who taught him nothing redeeming. Gee.
Oh, and he brutally beats Hugh Jackman to near death after Jackman kills the Road Warrior gang, including the white trash chick, and Dr. Short Circuit.

This Film Sucked

I’ve said for a long time that Neill Blomkamp is a leftist. Even as other conservatives bizarrely thought that District 9 was somehow conservative, I noted the standard leftist anti-white, anti-male, anti-police, anti-military, anti-corporate, and anti-capitalism themes and undertones. Then came Elysium with its nonsense anti-white, anti-police, anti-corporate, anti-capitalism, and pro-universal healthcare themes. Now we have this. This time, you have evil white capitalist ex-military types who want to destroy a sentient robot who is so gosh darn ghetto cute. The evil Road Warrior gang is entirely white, of course.
Still, I could overlook his politics if his films didn’t suck. District 9 was sloppy and uncreative without any appealing characters. It also felt a LOT like the miniseries V. Elysium was derivative nonsense that substituted propaganda for plot. None of its characters were appealing either. This one... this one is a poor rip-off of Robocop 2. This gives the film an uncomfortable “I’ve seen this story before” feeling. Add in all the not-credible moments that go unexplained – like how CHAPPiE comes alive, why he would have no programming when he did but would quickly get all the programming he needs, why Dr. Short Circuit randomly visits the robot but the Road Warrior gang don’t kill him, etc. – and what you get is a movie that feels like nonsense. And finally, add in the utter lack of appealing characters once again.
Seriously, these characters are impossible to like. Obviously, you’re not supposed to like Jackman or the Road Warrior gang or the corporate president (Sigourney Weaver). The people you are supposed to like are Dr. Short Circuit, the white trash couple, and CHAPPiE himself. But Dr. Short Circuit is a random character whose motives are unclear and who feels like a plot convenience. When he dies at the end it’s hard to remember that he was even in the film anymore. White trash chick ostensibly wants to raise CHAPPiE as if he were a child, but she’s white trash with an ugly accent and the values of a gang banger. Listening to her “mother” a robot with the Religion for Dummies take on a human soul is hard to take. Then her boyfriend trains CHAPPiE to use the same pigeon English they do, to carry himself like a drug dealer, to carjack people, and to hurt people (but it’s funny because they’re rich!!). That makes them and CHAPPiE super hard to like.
In fact, by the time Jackman shows up with his evil capitalist military ED-209a robot, it seems pretty clear that killing off all the characters would be best for society... and probably for them too. It’s hard to like a movie like that, especially when the director doesn’t seem to realize that the characters he offers as the good, likable heroes are all rotten sh*ts who need a delousing and a serious prison-yard beating.

Honestly, this movie felt like an insult. Blomkamp insulted my intelligence by trying to do a hidden remake of Robocop 2, and playing the robot as childlike. He insulted my political and moral beliefs with his themes. He insulted my cultural sensitivities by trying to shove this gang banger culture in my face. And he insulted my time by not doing anything interesting or original at any point during the movie.

I’m glad I didn’t pay to see this turd.


ArgentGale said...

I got the same impression you did about Blomkampf's politics so I've been avoiding his movies. I think I can safely say that between this and Kingsman your reviews are more entertaining than the movies themselves.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Daniel! I hope to be entertaining. :)

I've seen each of Blomkampf's films and they seem to just keep getting worse. District 9 felt original compared to everything else, but was also unpleasant to watch -- not the themes, just the way it was filmed. And it's only been downhill since then. This one just stunk.

ScottDS said...

But other than that, you liked it. :-)

I liked District 9 but it didn't blow me away, which you'd expect from reading the reviews. (I suppose there was some novelty value there: "Where'd this director come from?" and all that, plus an excellent ad campaign.)

Elysium had problems, so much so that even liberal bloggers were pointing things out, especially shortcomings in world-building, etc.

Now, as for THIS movie... of the three, it was the most palatable. Yes, the rednecks (they're actually members of a band) are annoying and yes, the director obviously has one or two notes he likes to play over and over again...

...but I considered the movie a larger-than-life grotesque comic book and on that level (and that level only), I kinda enjoyed it.

Having said that, the film isn't nearly as deep as it thinks it is, I have no idea why Indian doctor would keep returning to the rednecks (or why they just didn't kill him), and Hugh Jackman's way too likable to be a villain like this. I'd almost prefer to see a different movie with him playing a soldier against killer robots!

P.S. We talked about it before but your preference for Robocop 2 over the original is something I'll never understand. I like the movie, but the first one is, to me, near-perfect.

Voz said...

I had pretty much the same feelings as you did...although the only redeeming quality I found was the's seamless and Chappie looks real...same with Blomkamps other movies, the graphics are top notch...stories are crap and heavy handed messages but the graphics were excellent.

AndrewPrice said...

Voz, I agree. His films have excellent special effects, but beyond that his stories are crap and they are packed with heavy-handed messages. I've never liked any of his characters either.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm not a huge fan of Robocop. It's trying too hard to be a sad movie. Robocop 2 doesn't have the same sadness. It's more of an unapologetic action film.

This film is probably his most politically palatable but it's also the most boring. Nothing interesting happens in this film. And I definitely agree that this film isn't anywhere near as deep as it thinks it is. I would say it's not any deeper than a typical blockbuster... which is meant for consumption by the lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Scott; I've never seen RoboCop 2 so I can't comment on it. But I'm with you on the first one being near perfect. :)

Allena-C said...

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for reviewing this turd, lol. Seriously, you deserve a medal! It's not easy watching turds for two hours, or whatever. I always like how much fun your reviews are, even the turds movies, You give the MST3K guys a run for their money. :)

shawn said...

I have to say, after seeing all the bad reviews of Chappie, I breathed a sigh of relief when Blomkamp's Alien 5 was put on hold even if it was for Prometheus 2.

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