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Humanity's last hope isn't human

Oscar-nominated writer-director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) helms this sci-fi biopic of a “new-born” robot, observing a near-future Earth as he grows to discover a sense of self. Stars Die Antwoord members Yolandi Visser and Ninja, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, and Blomkamp’s go-to actor Sharlto Copley as the robot Chappie.

A robot police force has helped to reduce Johannesburg’s violent crime rate, and now their creator Deon (Dev Patel) can perfect his next obsession – creating artificial intelligence. Using a clapped-out robot destined for the scrapheap as a vessel, Deon brings his concept to life, but the pair are soon kidnapped by gangsters (Yolandi Visser and Ninja) who not only name the childlike AI “Chappie” but begin teaching it all the wrong lessons. With Chappie’s education heading in unexpected directions and a workplace rivalry between Deon and Vincent (Hugh Jackman) spilling violently on to the South African streets, a collision between machine and man looms.


Directed by

Action, Science Fiction, Blockbuster


Rating: R13 Violence and offensive language


Within the first five minutes of Chappie, director Neill Blomkamp has already borrowed extensively from his own scant two film career (and genre classic RoboCop) as a documentary-style introduction is followed by private policing robots rolling out onto the violent streets of Johannesburg. It’s so obvious that in anyone else’s hands it’d be called plagiarism, in Blomkamp’s “lazy-ism” may be a better description, one that infuses much of his film.

While Chappie’s opening is overly familiar, it’s not entirely unwelcome as it speeds the arrival of the film’s titular character, a clapped-out police robot saved from the scrapyard by engineer Deon (Dev Patel) and infused with computerised consciousness. As the infantile artificial intelligence falls into the hands of a gangster trio (2/3 of whom are Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser and Ninja, playing versions of themselves), Chappie begins to raise issues of nature vs nuture, the meaning of consciousness, the spectre of mortality and – thanks to Hugh Jackman’s amusingly macho Aussie rival of Deon’s – religion. Themes that are then cast aside towards the end of the film in favour of a violent showdown and resolution that are ultimately unsatisfying.

That’s not to say there aren’t good elements present. The robot Chappie is brought to life awesomely by actor Sharlto Copley and the boffins at WETA, and much of your tolerance for the film will hinge on whether you find Die Antwoord endearing or not. If, like me, you’re a fan, you’ll think they acquit themselves well and that their aesthetic is a welcome addition to the film’s otherwise familiar production design, props and wardrobes. But overall, Chappie doesn’t engage or challenge enough, and lacks too much in purpose to passionately recommend.

Time Out London


This hugely entertaining oddity could never be mistaken for the work of any other filmmaker.

Total Film (UK)


Like its title character, Chappie is stunning to behold and easy to like, but it’s still some way from fully developed.

Empire (UK)


Blomkamp’s third movie has just about enough spectacle and quirk to overcome some fairly major flaws, not least of which is an unappealing central trio.

Guardian (UK)


Chappie is a broad, brash picture, which does not allow itself to get bogged down in arguing about whether or not “artificial intelligence” is possible. It has subversive energy and fun.

Telegraph (UK)


It’s a brawny, inventive action romp that’s as happy firing rockets at helicopters as it is contemplating the Cartesian model of mind-body dualism.

Dissolve (USA)


Chappie’s biggest problem is the degree to which it echoes other films...

Hollywood Reporter


Chappie is a further downward step for director Neill Blomkamp.

Variety (USA)


Winds up feeling as clunky and confused as the childlike droid with which it shares its name.


The film indeed has some original thoughts but unfolds in an overly dramatic way.


great film, great story, great effects great ending hope they make another one

It was slow to start but ok.

The plot is full of holes you could drive a bulldozer through (so not a thinking mans movie) but some good fun in it and as always for action movies the pace picks up towards the end. Sam made the comment that it was just District 9 all over again. Thinking about it he was right. It's set in South Africa and the plot is similar except instead of aliens its AI robots. That said the shrimp in District 9 looked pretty much like Chappie and his pals too! Same actor too playing the lead as in D9 except you just hear his irritating voice...

Proudly South African

Lacks depth, but really enjoyed it. Awesome that Blomkamp has not Americanized this one bit.

Wishful Thinking


So I did enjoy it, wonderful to watch to character build up of Chappie an his creator, not to mention Chappie’s momma & poppa. So reminds me of 'Short Circuit’, ‘RoboCop’ an ‘Transcendence’ with bits of ‘Automata’, ‘A.I.’, ‘iRobot' and other robot movie. You’ll enjoy it and the special effects are pretty good too. It’ll pull little at the heart strings of all and especially parents.

Genre : Sci-fi, drama, action, evolution

4/5 : Still felt very rehashed, but totally relatable an enjoyable. Look out for Ninja’s van plate. This guy is a true product of his environment.