“Chappie” still holds a valuable lesson amidst the violence

Caitlin Matthews

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Director Neill Blomkamp’s new film “Chappie” is almost like a “Wall-e”/ “I, Robot”/ “District 9” mash up heavily sprinkled with gang violence and the F-bomb, yet was still able to teach a valuable lesson. In this film, a somewhat broken police robot is uploaded with a program to give him artificial intelligence, or the ability to think like a human. At first, he is like a young child, unaware of what is right or wrong and unaware of life itself. When realizing he only has five days to live, Chappie is manipulated into stealing cars, attacking innocent people and aiding a heist in order to save his own life as well as the lives of his friends.

Through the influence of the small but violent gang he lives with and the nurturing compassion of his creator, Chappie develops his own identity which changes those around him. The main strength of this film is the development of Chappie. When Chappie is first created, he must learn just as a child learns in the first stages of his life. Viewers can slowly watch the brutality around him slowly break his more innocent state to make him into the robot he becomes at the end of the film: a confused and punk-like machine who still holds on to moral rights. However, the positive influences of his life such as his creator Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) and mother Yolandi (Yolandi Visser) give him the morals and strength to do the right thing in the end.

Another key part to this film was the great cast. Actor Sharlto Copley’s performance as Chappie was incredible. Even through Motion Capture, he was able to display the emotional and physical changes Chappie endures through his life. Also, actors Yolandi Visser and Watkin ‘Ninja’ Jones were perfect for their roles. In reality, both make up the rebellious and unusual South African rap group called Die Antwoord. Their punk-like personality, although creepy, made them perfect for their roles as gang members in this film. While ‘Ninja’ brought the world of violence into Chappie’s life, Yolandi brought forth a warm, mother-like compassion shrouded in a similar savage setting.

However, some of the cast  were not as stellar. Actress Sigourney Weaver’s flat character  did not develop or change in the film. Hugh Jackman, who played the great villain Vincent Moore, becomes increasingly violent and bloodthirsty in the final battle, unlike his character at the beginning. This, to me, seemed a bit over the top. Also, the ending itself seemed to come out of nowhere. Chappie seems to find a way to live a longer life, but the probability of this ever working is slim, even with more advanced technology. Its ending seems to contrast the assumed moral and lets viewers lose the flow of the film.

Overall, Chappie was a great movie. It was violent, full of profanity and smothered in killings, but was still able to portray the innocence of new life, the importance of positive role models and true greatness.

3/5