Chappie might as well be a two-hour Die Antwoord music video with a robot.
In fairness to Blomkamp, his familiar premise does have potential. Deon’s (Dev Patel) dream of creating artificial intelligence to provide sentience and consciousness, is a good contrast to Vincent’s (Hugh Jackman) principle that robots should be controlled by human beings.
Unfortunately, the film spends more time with Die Antwoord – a group of low life criminals who trains a robot to become a gangster.
There are also an additional two hackneyed subplots. Chappie is created by a geek who wants him to live a humane life and hunted by some crazy maniac who wants to use him for his own agenda.
Contrivances, cliches, and lack of common sense move the story. Characters can do whatever they want to create plot points and motivations suddenly go out of the window to delay the buildup.
Dev Patel is decent as the straight-laced geek, but the character has nothing more to offer him. Sigourney Weaver is left to bark orders behind a desk. Hugh Jackman has a mullet and carries a gun in the office in case it isn’t obvious enough that he’s crazy.
It doesn’t help that Chappie is unappealing. While Sharlto Copley’s voice imbues him with a bit of an identity, Chappie’s design prevents him from being relatable. Any supposed emotion is undetectable and usually comes off through hyperactive bursts that become annoying.
All this jumbled mess drags on for two hours.
Blomkamp has a knack for coming up with sci-fi films that have political subtext and social commentary but the execution leaves much to be desired. Unless you’re desperate for a District 9 sequel, this movie isn’t worth a movie ticket.
Chappie is a boring messy sci-fi movie that pays more attention to a second-rate rap group than its titular character.