Natasha reviews CHAPPiE (2015)

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Simon Kinberg/Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay by: Neill Blomkamp/Terri Tatchell
Based onTetra Vaal
by Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yolandi Visser,Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman
Music by: Hans Zimmer

Brought to us by the filmmaker who did the dystopian epic District 9, CHAPPiE is a very enjoyable #film which balances #bioconservative discomfort with automation with a #transhumanist pro-AI perspective.
The action elements are pulled off very well, with some subtle but tremendously effective #SFX.

In near-future South Africa, a corporation has worked with the state to institute a system of computer-run #robotic Police officers, which work generally well at keeping some crazy criminals somewhat on the fringes of society. One developer has secretly designed a #robot which has a very humanesque “consciousness”. The robot, CHAPPiE, however, falls into the hands of some small-time crooks who owe a ganglord a huge sum of money. Naturally, being criminals, they want to use the robot to rob up the money they owe, so they kidnap the developer and force him to show them how it works. In the meantime a deranged neofascist co-worker is secretly setting up a way to disable the robots, presumably so he can institute bigger, harsher machines which he controls.

As the crooks (played flawlessly by the #grime group #DieAntwoord) are trying to raise CHAPPiE (who still has the intelligence of a small child) into a hardened criminal, he develops a parent-child type relationship with the couple. A string of somewhat humorous and sometimes somewhat sad antics ensue. Of course, the authoritarian co-worker has an epic clash with reality and the violence escalates. This is as detailed as I can be without outright spoilers, but trust me its visually stunning & action-packed.

The film humanizes the sentient AI, but also hints at the dangers of having automated machines in control over humans. District 9 fans (and South Africans) will recognize some of the locations, but the production design is a bit more urbane. I give it 12 out of 13 arrows, only losing the one point because I’d have liked it to go a bit longer and more in-depth into the “end scenario”.


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