By Dave B.
Chappie (2015, currently on Netflix) is a movie about a robot that gains artificial intelligence, goes on a robbery spree, and saves the day. And it has Die Antwoord in it. In a very real sense, this is a “what if” tale about what could happen if Die Antwoord gained possession of heavily armed and armored Pinocchio-like doll. In another sense, this movie is basically a two-hour long promotional video for Die Antwoord. Despite my antipathy towards Pinocchio (and my surprisingly complex feelings about Die Antwoord, which I may write about another time) Chappie is relatively ok to watch in some ways.
I could give you a fairly long list of things that don’t work with this movie. For example, the dialogue is terrible. The action, while decent at times, is too infrequent. The decision-making of nearly every character is completely nonsensical. And perhaps worst of all (only for me, I’m sure) is that Chappie, as a character, is extremely annoying.
I have this thing where I hate Pinocchio and Pinocchio-like characters. I don’t feel like getting too deep into it in this review, but basically, my issue is that I almost never feel that it’s compelling or realistic that a non-human lifeform would strive to be human. Even if they did, I don’t buy that they would have the ability to do so, because biology is a major component of human behavior and development, but their biology (or lack thereof) is entirely different from a human’s.
The purpose of that brief digression is to explain that I found Chappie the character to be annoying because he is written to mentally develop the way that a human child would, only more quickly. It’s emblematic of the lazy writing that is found throughout this movie.
That said, Chappie moves along at a fairly brisk pace. It managed to hold my attention for a couple of hours, which is not the easiest thing in the world to do. The directing is competent, if uninspired. And I did manage to have some degree of empathy for the robot (it’s kind of hard not too when something that possesses the mental and emotional capacity of a three year old is basically being tortured in order to mentally condition it into being a criminal). Instead of actively disliking it, I just wish that the movie would have been less formulaic, less non-sensical, and less risk-adverse with its plot.
I’m not going to recommend Chappie, but I think that some people may enjoy it. It just pushed too many of my buttons for me to say that I enjoyed watching it. It also pushed too few of them for me to say that I hated it. 5/10