HOLLYWOOD—The idea of robots being able to manifest human emotion has been debated for years, well since cinema first tackled the issue. Director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film “Chappie” looks at the impact non-human things can have on humans.
The narrative of “Chappie” involves the city of Johannesburg in South Africa that has a high crime rate. To reduce the level of violence the government purchases highly sophisticated robots from weapons manufacturer Tetravaal. The robots do indeed have an impact on reducing crime in the city.
The creator of the robot Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) is praised for his work, which creates friction with engineer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) who begins to resent his co-worker. It’s a bit of a villainous role to a degree for Jackman and its fun to watch.
“Chappie” does have some high caliber actors, not just in Patel and Jackman, but also in Oscar-nominee Sigourney Weaver who is a bit of titan as Michelle Bradley, the CEO of Tetravaal. When Wilson announces his desire to introduce human intelligence into a robot allowing emotions and human thought capabilities he is immediately shut down.
So what is one to do, he decides to steal a robot and implement his new software into the machine, but before he can fully work with ‘Chappie,’ the robot is taken hostage by a group of gangsters who are destined to utilize the robot to fight against the police. What I enjoyed about this film is the questions of ethics it raises, but the emotional connection people have to things that are necessarily human.
What first appears as just a robot, soon transforms into a question of right and wrong. Those who could care less about what actions they teach Chappie to learn, and those who attempt to teach the robot the difference from right and wrong.
Without spoiling too much for moviegoers, the narrative of the film intensifies where a few surprises and shocks are delivered to the audience. If you think you know how this film will end, you will be quite surprised which makes “Chappie” a fun and intriguing ride.
Characters that you care about and characters that you don’t care about change your emotions in a way that you don’t expect. It’s important to note that Blomkamp tackles writing duties for the film which further explains why the narrative works so well in my opinion. The movie leaves that lingering question of if a human can develop an authentic bond with a machine and if so to what degree does that relationship have an impact on the rest of society.
I must also acknowledge the visual effects of the movie which are thankful to actor Sharlto Copley who captures the motion movements a voice of the title character. That displays an extreme amount of commitment from Copley who many have no idea is actually capturing everything that makes the audience fall into love that much more with the robot.
I walked in “Chappie” having little expectations, but found myself thoroughly surprised by the emotional and thought-provoking concepts the movie presented. It does indeed force society to question what might happen if robots did become apart of human society, think about that for a second.