Can a movie be original while still ripping off many stories that came before it? The new film “Chappie” seems to suggest yes.
Like the title character, “Chappie” is made from spare parts of other robots who have come before him. The movie “Robocop” already covered mechanized police officers, and countless films like “The Iron Giant” and “Big Hero Six” beat “Chappie” to the punch, as stories about lovable bots with hearts of gold. The film’s own director already covered out of control mech-warriors twice with his other movies, “District 9” and “Elysium.”
However, what sets “Chappie” apart is the pure, unbridled weirdness it brings to the material. Within the beginning, the film had me rolling my eyes with how derivative it seemed, but then it started going crazy in the second act with Chappie becoming a slang-spewing car-jacker who forms a gang with South African rap duo, Die Antwoord.
It sounds like the plot was written from filling out a Mad Lib, but that is really what happens. Hugh Jackman is also featured somewhere in there, with a haircut that was probably a dare, and tries to kill Chappie with a Moose he controls with his mind. Okay, Moose is a name for another robot, but you are welcome for the image I just gave you.
“Chappie” is obviously pure madness on many levels, but you end up caring about what is happening because all of the actors bring such genuine charm to their performances. Sharlto Copley, as the voice of Chappie, is the best of the bunch. He infuses his robotic character with a childlike innocence that will have you rooting for him every step of the way.
“Chappie” uses an old recipe for its premise, but brings to it a wide range of new flavors. The movie fails to adequately explore the true depths of some of the ideas it presents, as far as life and consciousness are concerned, but it is an admirable effort nonetheless and earns a score of 0111 out of 1010.