By Vicente Zaragoza
Neill Blomkamp returns to the big screen with another endeavor in the sci-fi genre in the form of Chappie. Blomkamp was widely recognized after District 9 became a popular sensation back in 2009. With a fine hand leading the camera, Blomkamp returns to a post-apocalyptic world in which robots are the designated police force in preventing crime on the streets.
The film’s title character and protagonist is Chappie, an artificial being created by gangsters. This intelligent being is met as an opposing force to officer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), the film’s antagonist, and his team that run the robots preventing crime in the streets.
When Chappie is brought to the attention of Moore and the elite members running the city, immediate action is sought and it is determined that Chappie should be destroyed.
Aesthetically, the film is grand. Blomkamp does the most with the little he actually allows himself. For films revolving around destruction, and a grand layout of mere nothing, Blomkamp creates the perfect atmosphere. The visuals and action alone make the film a stand out considering this year started slowly and progressed to fast-paced shoot-outs.
Blomkamp’s team leaves no audience member disappointed when establishing great visuals to keep their attention. With character development, we are meant to feel for Chappie and follow his own form of development. He is taught by his creator that although those around him are involved in crime, Chappie should refrain from involving himself in illegal activities.
The second wave of characters are somewhat two-dimensional, as they are given personality, but never too much screen time. A major achievement of District 9 was its ability to make every character understandable even when they are outside the realm of real language.
The film itself brings up many ambitious ideas and thoughts through its storyline, but unfortunately, never explores many of its themes. Chappie’s own mortality is brought up in several instances, but this is never addressed for more than a scene or two. With many underlying themes that are touched, but never explored, Chappie asks questions in layers but never really seeks to answer those questions.
A solid credit to Blomkamps’s filmography, Chappie is funny and entertaining. The film itself lands marks for great visuals and solid acting from more than its two A-listers. Unfortunately, Chappie sometimes loses itself in so much ambition to be everything at once. Much like the character’s story, the film would have blossomed if the creators had taken one step at a time, and allowed a bit more development.