A kick-ass robot cop who blows shit up. Leading roles for Yolandi and Ninja from Die Antwoord. Neill Blomkamp's patented, absurd violence. What's not to love?

 

A lot, as it turns out. While Chappie has gritty style, it has jack shit for substance. Imagine someone took parts of RoboCop (ED 209 and the human power struggles), Pinocchio (a real boy!), Blomkamp’s own District 9 (nonhumans that seem human) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (a kindler, gentler killer) and let a blind recluse stitch them together into a narrative. Then you might have something like this film.

 

Chappie isn’t the unmitigated disaster critics have made it out to be, but it’s difficult to recommend it. As for plot, Chappie (Sharlto Copley, natch) is an unfeeling police robot in South Africa who’s given consciousness by his creator, Deon (Dev Patel).

 

Unfortunately, Chappie is hijacked (and named) by criminals (the aforementioned Ninja and Yolandi), and he’s used as a tool for a heist. And there’s another robot developer (played awkwardly, through no fault of his own, by Hugh Jackman) who wants to destroy Chappie and launch his own robot, the Moose.

 

Seeing all the derivative components of the movie on paper makes me sigh morosely. Chappie is watchable, but barely.


 

CHAPPIE

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

With Patel, Copley, and Jackman

Regal Stadium 14

R

114 min.