commented on Chappie Is Not a Movie, but a Long and Bad Music Video for Die Antwoord
Since Charlie was too lazy to actually view the movie "Chappie", I have cut and pasted an actual review of the movie from Digbysblog.
Saturday Night at the Movies
I bling the body electric
By Dennis Hartley
The mathematician/cryptologist I.J. Good (an Alan Turing associate) once famously postulated:
Let an ultra-intelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man…however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultra-intelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion’, and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus, the first ultra-intelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.
Good raised this warning in 1965, about the same time director Stanley Kubrick and sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke were formulating the narrative that would evolve into both the novel and film versions of 2001: a Space Odyssey. And it’s no coincidence that the “heavy” in 2001 was an ultra-intelligent machine that wreaks havoc once its human overseers lose “control” …Good was a consultant on the film. While the “A-I gone awry” prototype dates as far back as the metallic “Maria” in the 1927 silent Metropolis, it was “HAL 9000” that took technophobia to a new level, spawning a sci-fi film subgenre that includes The Demon Seed, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Robocop, I, Robot, and (of course) A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
There are echoes of all the aforementioned (plus a large orange soda) in Chappie, the third feature film from South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp. In this outing, Blomkamp returns to his native Johannesburg (which provided the backdrop for his 2009 debut, District 9). And for the third time in a row, his story takes place in a dystopian near-future (call me Sherlock, but I’m sensing a theme). Johannesburg has become a crime-riddled hellhole, ruled by ultra-violent drug lords and roving gangs of thugs. In fact, the streets are so dangerous that the police department is reticent to put its officers on the front lines. So they do what any self-respecting police department of the dystopian near-future does…they send droids out to apprehend bad guys.
The popularity of these programmable robocops has created lucrative contracts for a company called Tetravaal, which employs mild-mannered designer Deon (Dev Patel). In his spare time at home, Deon has been working on an A.I. chip that approximates “consciousness”. Jacked on Red Bull, Deon pulls an all-nighter and makes his breakthrough. Excited, Deon approaches Tetravaal’s CEO (Sigourney Weaver) with a proposal to work up a prototype. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to share his vision, and Deon is essentially laughed out of her office. I mean, who needs a police droid with “feelings”, right? Determined to carry out his experiment, Deon surreptitiously re-appropriates a damaged droid scheduled for destruction and absconds with it. However, before he can make it safely home on Johannesburg’s mean streets, he is carjacked and abducted by a trio of somewhat inept gangbangers (Ninja, Yolandi Visser, and Jose Pablo Cantillo) who figure they can coerce Deon into securing them a remote control that shuts down the police droids (even though they are only speculating that such a device even exists). They may not get that, but what they do end up with is a droid with self-awareness and the ability to absorb and mimic human behavior. Will he “grow up” as the enlightened being that his Gepetto-like creator intended, or will he turn into the “gangsta” that his thug “Daddy” wants him to be?
Through their creation of the character “Chappie”, Blomkamp and co-writer Terri Tatchell have managed to put a fresh spin on a well-worn trope. When you cut through all the bombast and the obligatory action tropes in the narrative, “his” story resonates at its core with a universal, even timeless kind of appeal. In fact, you could say that the film has more in common with Oliver Twist than it does with, say, Robocop. Chappie is, almost by the very definition of his inception, an “orphan”; innocent and pure of heart. Through no fault of his own, the child-like droid is quickly shuffled by fate and circumstance into the thug life, where he is tutored in street smarts and criminal behavior by “Ninja”, who sort of plays Fagin to his Oliver. On another level, Blomkamp and Tatchell are exploring the “Nature vs Nurture” theme as well in their screenplay.
This is a return to form for the director, especially after his slightly disappointing sophomore effort Elysium (a film that I enjoyed, but didn’t find quite as exciting and original as District 9). I really got a kick out of the performances, especially scene-stealers Ninja and Visser, who are actually slumming from their day job here as the rap outfit Die Antwoord (apparently very popular with the “zef” crowd…I’ll let you look that up, like grandpa had to prepping this review). Hugh Jackman seems to be having a blast hamming it up as a heavy, and Blomkamp’s favorite leading man Sharlto Copley does a marvelous job breathing “life” and personality into Chappie (move over, Andy Serkis!). BTW, despite my references to Pinocchio and David Copperfield, this one is definitely not for the kids; it’s rated ‘R’ (which stands for Robots Are Under the Bed!).
Dennis Hartley 3/07/2015 05:30:00 PM