back to article Chappie: The AI tale that’s about heart, not intelligence

Director Neill Blomkamp has recovered from his E​lysium ​stumble with this cross between P​inocchio, S​hort Circuit and R​obocop, ​which brings a whole lot of heart to the dystopian AI future trope. Like so many tales of the future, C​happie ​takes place in a city on the verge of tearing itself apart, where criminals can lay …

  1. Ketlan

    Nice review...

    ...and if this is anything like District 9 (rather than Elysium) I'll be looking forward to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice review...

      Agreed, it was a nice review, so nice that my Bittorrent client is chomping at the bit to download it...whoa, easy now, just be patient.....soon my pretty, soon.

    2. Mike Bell

      Re: Nice review...

      I was looking forward to this movie, but I wasn't impressed. Cutesy 1980s voice synths aren't needed in a film like this. Hell, my Sat Nav has a better voice than Chappie. And why does he behave like a scared human, just because he looks humanoid? Daft. HAL he is not.

      Sadly, it's too much like District 9 for comfort. With Robocop thrown in. You'll also get reprises of implausible psychopaths with SA accents. Oh, and Sigourney Weaver mutters a few words in a brief cardboard cutout role.

      This doesn't bode well for Blomkamp's forthcoming Alien movie. He can do the action stuff, but he's repeating himself, and I sorely hope a decent screenwriter gets drafted in for that project.

      1. Sokolik

        Re: Nice review...

        OK...first and foremost, I have *not* seen the film (yet).

        But, Robocop redux? It seems possible. For example, the first publicity-still I saw focused on an apparent android, robot, hybrid, whatever, you name it (where's Isaac Asimov when I need him?!?), and so my immediate and spontaneous first thoght was, "Didn't we do this already...twice?)"

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Nice review...

          Generally, just a rough idea:

          Robot: Mechanical device, including bipedal humanoid types. Aka Droids, drones. Dewy and Huey from Silent Running, R2D2

          Android: A robot designed to resemble a human, some indistinguishably. StarTrek's Data, R. Daneel Olivaw, Yule Brynner, The Terminator, Cylons from BSG, Replicants, Ash, Bishop, Call and David, Artificial People

          Cyborg: A man/machine mixture. Cybermen, The Borg. Robocop.

          These aren't hard-and-fast categories, though.

          1. Sokolik

            Re: Nice review...

            Thanking you for standing-in for the esteemed Prof. Asimov!

      2. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: Nice review...

        Sadly, it's too much like District 9 for comfort

        Not seen it yet, but my first thought on seeing the article pic was that they robotised the alien cockroach from D9, my second was did they just copy / paste Jody Fosters role using Sigourney Weaver? I liked District 9 well enough, enjoyed the beginning of Elysium (Matt Damon getting roughed up mostly), but was bored by the end of it (and I love spaceships). Ms Foster was criminally miscast / directed and a sledgehammer would have been a subtler way to deliver the message.

        As for the hitman (great in D9) - just die already!

      3. Jedit Silver badge

        "You'll also get reprises of implausible psychopaths with SA accents."

        Yep, Ninja was playing himself apparently.

        I decided against watching this movie when Die Antwoord were cast. Ninja is a thug and Yolandi has no discernible talent other than flashing her bush on stage. Happily Blomkamp discovered what a twat Ninja is during the filming and wrote him out of the end of the movie. Still, we didn't need a Short Circuit remake.

    3. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: Nice review...

      I rather like Elysium. While not a great film, it's superior to much of the dross out there. Elysium starts with a great premise and a pretty coherent start and somewhat runs off the rails about midway. Even so, it's a watch-able film. And the effects of the space station and ships were nicely done.

      If Elysium is Neill Blomkamp on a bad day, I'd be pretty content with 'bad days' like that.

      1. auburnman

        Re: Nice review...

        Elysium was a good film with an interesting promise and a weak ending. If they'd just taken 5-10 minutes to construct a decent narrative about the situation improving instead of the computers then magically make everything alright. Even a voiceover Epilogue would have been better.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Short Circuit 2

    I was 6 years old, watching Johnny 5 in the middle of my floor, and when he was beaten to a pulp I was balling my eyes out. Fast forward to Christmas just gone when the same film was on, 21 years later, I couldn't stop the tears welling up at the same scene in front of my girlfriend. She was totally bemused as to why I could shed a tear at this film but not even bat an eyelid at other films like "Stepmom".

    When I saw Chappie advertised, and in a few trailers, I can't help but compare it to Johnny 5's antics. Hopefully I will get to see this film while at the cinema and I hope it's good. I know it's only like Short Circuit 2, but to my 6 year old self, it's probably going to be my Short Circuit 3.

    1. David Roberts

      Re: Short Circuit 2 - balling your eyes out

      If thst is truly what you meant then maximum respect for your precocious sexual development.

      Then again, perhaps you were bawling you eyes out?

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Short Circuit 2 - balling your eyes out

        Shania Twain made sure my sexual development past the age of 11 was handled extremely well :)

  3. Conundrum1885

    Re. Short Circuit 2

    Same here..

    I did notice the similarities in design though, sort of like a cross between "Short Circuit" and "Robocop" ..

    One major plot hole, why would the same helmet work on a human brain AND one based on silicon carbide or whatever Chappie's was based on? Surely it would need major modification.. ?

  4. johnnymotel

    I read somewhere, the director has designs on a new Alien, sequel, prequel or whatever....and just last night I watched D9, again, on TV, still totally absorbing.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Blomkampf hired a conceptual artist for a proposed Alien film.

      It seems to be official now, with Sigourney Weaver talking about it, and Michael Biehn signed on to reprise his role as Corporal Hicks.

      The conceptual art suggest that Blomkampf at least recognises what was great about Alien and Aliens, and what the issues with Alien3 were. He's obviously a fan of the first two movies, just as James Cameron was of Alien. This bodes well. Alien 3 and Resurrection suffered from studio interference, and directors who didn't produce the screenplays.

      I'm cautiously optimistic.

  5. RISC OS

    I thought chapie was northern slang for penis

    I saw a tv show once about to carpenters, one of them dropped an disc saw on the floor, it bounced up - still going - and cut in to his (as his friend put it) "chappie"

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: I thought chapie was northern slang for penis

      I've seen the same show. IIRC (Which I probably don't) the saw cut into his femoral artery. He survived, thanks to a swiftly arriving ambulence, but his chappie got chopped.

      The lesson is that you should never place your rotary saw on the ground until you're quite sure the blade has ceased spinning.

    2. dubno

      Re: I thought chapie was northern slang for penis

      Not sure about all the way up north, but here in South Africa, Chappie is a brand of bubblegum but is really the generic name for all bubblegum in this country.

      Back in my youth, I can remember buying them for 1c each....the best part was that each wrapper had a few "did you know that......." general knowledge questions and answer printed on them. So they were actually educational whilst simultaneously destroying the teeth!

  6. Dick Emery

    I hope he don't die and come back to life

    We've already had that ending multiple times with Short Circuit, Wall-E and a gazillion other movies (With or without robots).

  7. Frank Bough

    Hang on...

    Elysium is a fucking great movie!

  8. xperroni

    I'm so fsck'ing happy

    Blomkamp isn’t interested in a movie about whether AI is possible, this is a film about the complexity of human nature and the likelihood that any other sentient race we create would be just as complicated and as mired in the moral shades of grey as we are.


    A thousand times this.

    Oh God, I thought I'd never see the day movie makers would get this!

    1. Rick Brasche

      Re: I'm so fsck'ing happy

      they've "seen" this for years. and for some reason, "shades of grey" equals exactly the same "worst of everything except for a few bright spots"

      and have been remaking the exact same theme hundreds of times in the last decade or so. Only difference is the level of dystopia.

      Nowadays, a "golden age" movie with an actual position of optimism would be "edgy"...

  9. Alistair

    Chappie is *not* short circuit.

    Short Circuit was the Disney version of the concept.

    Blomkamp puts together something that makes (at least me, and my equally geek wife and eldest) discuss a set of concepts. Yes the helmet + stack of ps4s is a plot hole. I'll allow it on the grounds that it helps pose a question for discussion. I've seen several complete trashings of this movie by "reviewers" and having just seen it, believe that I might just have to go re-watch district 9 -- I suspect that (since I watched that while working through a release and thus missed several large chunks of it) I may not have really seen the movie, or at least the bits that may have been important.

    Average Joe is *not* likely to see all the possible issues Blomkamp is presenting here and some of them are things we may well just have to come up with answers for, *before* we have the capacity to execute. (Anyone here read 2312? -- there's a concept in there that makes for an interesting counterpoint to the concept of copying a consciousness)

    I wont call the "ninja/yolandi" (I get the idea that they have some other gig somewhere/how/media??? why?) team the types I'd put into anything but a madmax movie, but the concepts are part of the overall vision here, and I think they fit the bill, even as overacted, there are other characters in here that are just as completely over the top including Hugh Jackman's.

    Overall, not something everyone is going to find "entertaining" nor is everyone going to find it "intriguing" -- I personally enjoyed it, and the ensuing discussion about some of the questions it raised for us.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this is not a review

    it's a summary of what happens in the movie.

  11. Gazareth

    "An inspirational kitten poster"

    Wait, what?

  12. montyburns56

    "But C​happie i​sn’t a sermon "

    Is that a first for a Neil Blomkamp film?

  13. Rick Brasche

    the problem with this type of story

    is not that it's an "exploration" of anything. The writer/director has a message that is the whole point of the production. The story will be manipulated, cut, shoved, and forced to meet that message.

    Exploration is about taking a set starting point and seeing "where it goes". This often does NOT go where the writer/director wanted it to all along.

    Too many "special conditions" are shoved in here to make sure the message is met. And that's what breaks these sorts of films. It's preaching, pure and simple.

    The only "trick" to commercial success of such a film is making sure one already has an audience at the pulpit who want to hear the sermon again with a different "twist".

  14. RustyK9

    Chappie is a local brand of Bubblegum, and Joburg is just down Road... Oh Dear... :)

    Interested to see it myself... :)

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