The newest film from director Neill Blomkamp (“Elysium,” “District 9”) is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen. “Chappie” was clearly Blomkamp’s style, but in the most realistic, raw, gritty and utterly human way.
The film feels like an excerpt from a cultural documentary about a near-future life on the South African streets mixed with a complicated philosophical dilemma, except with Die Antwoord unapologetically shoved in your face.
And the villain is Hugh Jackman with a mullet. It’s amazing.
The counterculture-driven, weird and unique rap-rave group Die Antwoord, specifically its two main members Ninja and Yolandi, play themselves in a fictional setting in “Chappie.”
In the film, Ninja, Yolandi and fellow gangster Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo) are criminals on the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa.
They raise a sentient, gangster robot named Chappie as their own.
The police force introduces robots to alleviate massive crime problems, and a weapons technology company ran by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) creates them.
The main programmer responsible for the police bots, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), develops a way to reprogram a robot with consciousness.
When Bradley rejects his program, Wilson steals a damaged robot to test it anyway, but Ninja and Yolandi kidnap Wilson and discover Chappie.
The film is a near-future, sci-fi action movie mixed with current human issues, a style that Blomkamp is known for, but it is so complex.
It examines the philosophical struggle that seeks to define what it means to be human and how consciousness sets us apart, but the lines blur when a conscience being is created.
Antagonist Vincent Moore (Jackman) is fiercely opposed to robots without human operation, and regards a sentient robot as evil.
However, watching the developmental relationship between Yolandi and Chappie and how his maker regards him makes one feel no different toward Chappie than a human child.
It’s immediately impossible to disregard him as just a robot, which sets up Moore as an unwaveringly evil villain.
On that note, Jackman is brilliant in the film. He is absolutely despicable as Moore. His character is obsessive, brutal and unforgiving.
I never thought I’d hate an “X-Men” member, but he pulled off the ultimate jerk character without a trace of doubt.
It’s always wonderful to see a movie that delves so deeply into a complicated theme, but all philosophical pondering aside, “Chappie” works on almost every level.
Each character is realistic and unexpected in a Hollywood blockbuster.
The cinematography is so spot-on that some scenes made me feel physically gritty, and each shot sent my eyes all over the screen in a desperate attempt to soak in each detail.
What really made it relatable to almost anyone, even in the midst of a rarely spotlighted culture, was the chemistry between actors and careful attention to well-rounded character development.
At one point or another, one both loves and hates almost every character.
Except I don’t imagine anyone could hate Chappie because he’s freaking adorable, and Yolandi is so weirdly cute as his Mommy that it’s kind of hard to hate her, too.
If nothing else, no one could have predicted that one day Hans Zimmer and Die Antwoord would collaborate on a movie soundtrack.
The music adds a depth to the portrayal of South African culture, while its techno elements compliment the robot theme.
Also, Ninja and Yolandi play themselves in a movie in a house they decorated where they listen to their own music. It is hilariously meta.
There are endless reasons to see this film. It has every entertaining element a movie should have: romance, drama, action, comedy, uniqueness and continuous cringe-worthy moments.
Not to mention a look into the lives of some of the weirdest performing artists in the world who have a pissed-off, mullet-clad Wolverine on their asses because of their ghetto robot child.
I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to see that.
“Chappie” is rated R for violence, language and brief nudity and is playing at Conway’s Cinemark Theater.