Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



Oscar Predictions

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Film #510


In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

THE REVIEW: Chappie is filled with wonderfully original and innovative ideas but those ideas are limited and contained within a horribly constructed story. Director Neill Blomkamp, who’s also helmed District 9 and Elysium, is well known for the worlds and concepts he creates. The premise behind Chappie is rich and highly detailed — a near-future where the police force is replaced primarily by robots and the lead developer, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), is creating the world’s first true artificial intelligence. However, instead of directing the focus of Chappie more towards a concept-film that paints a picture of this future, Blomkamp attempts (and fails) to tell a story within the world. It’s through trying to tell a story that things fall apart.

Characters are shallow and poorly developed. While a part of that may be due to a majority of the actors being South African natives — as opposed to more experienced/trained actors — a large part is due to the writing. We don’t get a good look at where these characters might be coming from or their motivation for their actions, with a few minor exceptions. For example, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) we learn was in the military before becoming an engineer for Tetravaal. This is good because it gives us insight into why he goes to such drastic (and violent) lengths to get his way but it is still quite a stretch for the situation presented in the film. We see his grudge with Deon because his Scout program is taking the funding for his Moose program but to go full-on Revenge Mode over the course of five days (the elapsed time of the film) is too far-fetched.

Worst of all is the litany of minor story annoyances. There are far more than I can count and are all well beyond the realm of suspension of disbelief. The following list is by no means all-inclusive nor necessarily representative, but should give you an idea of some of the issues.

Chappie opens in theaters today, March 6, 2015.

THE RATING: 2 out of 5