Neil Blomkamp made a highly impressive debut with the groundbreaking Sci-Fi docudrama, District 9. His follow-up, Elysium was not well-received, all though I myself found it to be a highly entertaining and enjoyable film. His latest film however is perhaps his worst one yet and is a worrying sign of Blomkamp’s fall to M. Night Shyamalan territory.
Written by Blomkamp and his wife Terri Tatchell, and directed by Blomkamp, Chappie follows the story of a near future when crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. However, when a police droid is stolen by a gang of violent thugs who give him new programming he becomes the first to think for himself and must decide what he wants to become.
Chappie is a complete mismanagement of style and substance and a terrible and hugely disappointing effort. It’s a movie that doesn’t know whether it wants to be funny or serious, and in the end turns out to be neither.The movie is a half-assed exploration of Artificial Intelligence and is more of a rip-off of superior Sci-Fi films rather than an original piece of work. The mawkish tone and sappy dialogue make for an incredibly distressing experience that I found very hard to sit through. The performances fail to come through, Dev Patel offers nothing special, Hugh Jackman is wasted as the antagonist and in the end I was left wondering, Is he really the villain? Sigourney Weaver can’t bring anything to the movie either in her under-written role.
However, the worst thing about this movie is definitely the South African rap-rave duo Ninja and Yolandi Visser of Der Antwoord who CANNOT ACT! It is excruciating to see them chew the scenery in their terrible performances as two street-level thugs. Not even dual Adam Sandler performances in Jack and Jill deserve the worst on-screen couple razzie more than these two.
In conclusion, Chappie is easily the weakest work of Blomkamp’s short career. The script is dreadful, the ideas are not properly explored. The film lacks originality and many of the films elements feel ripped-off from superior Sci-Fi films, what’s even more worrying is that this is the guy who is going to handle the Alien franchise.