Humanity's last hope isn't Chappie

English (U) Cast: Dev Patel, Hugh
Jackman, Sigourney Weaver
Director: Neill Blomkamp

The debate on whether robots should be allowed to think and feel as humans do is ever-raging. Chappie is among a plethora of films that has attempted to leave one questioning, but with a definite bias to favour robots. If we used sentient robots to our advantage, would decommissioning them be murder? (Yes) Would treating them less than human be cruel? (Yes)

At least that’s how one feels throughout the film, despite Hugh Jackman, being the convincing actor that he is, uncharacteristically playing an opposing role. The film is set in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is no real surprise because Neil Blomkamp directed it. The idea is very Robocop, with the Johannesburg police force “being the first in the world” to employ the use of near-indestructible droids to control urban crimes.

Deon (Dev Patel) is the brain behind these droids. His creation is said to be flawless with only a trusted few having access to a guard key, which is the only thing that has the power to override the system. It is in Deon’s extra-curricular project that Chappie comes into being as the world’s first sentient robot. It (or shall we say he?) turns out to be a real baby at first, which is adorable and unexpectedly heart-warming.

The first half of the film is particularly sentimental; from Chappie’s first words to his overwhelming intelligence. Like all children, he is naive, trusting and extremely impressionable. Chappie picks up mannerisms from his “parents” Yolandi and Ninja, who are gangsters trying to pull off a heist with robot help. Of course there are paternal and maternal sentiments running throughout the film, with Chappie warming the cockles of your heart in a way that Wall E (2008) might have.

Dystopia, however, is virtually an absent theme in Chappie, although the film’s poster promised that kind of feel with its “Humanity’s last hope isn’t human” tag-line. Chappie may have been called a good film if the climax wasn’t as farfetched as it is; like a bad prequel to Transcendence (2014). The lead up to the excessive climax is only a matter of minutes, and when the end does arrive it comes with too many loopholes. This may be an enjoyable movie to watch, but it certainly won’t be because of the ending.

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