RoboCop: the “cheeky blighter” years

SFX - - Rated / Cinema -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 15 | 120 min­utes Direc­tor: Neill Blomkamp Cast: Sharlto Co­p­ley, Dev Pa­tel, Yo- Landi Visser, Ninja, Hugh Jackman

There are so many

other films smashed to­gether to make Chap­pie that it’s in­evitable, re­ally, that the re­sult is some kind of sham­bling, un­even Franken­stein’s mon­ster. Neill Blomkamp and fel­low Dis­trict 9 co- writer Terri Tatchell have ap­par­ently trans­formed into mag­pies and col­lected so many shiny cin­e­matic trin­kets to lob into the script that it’s al­most laugh­able: RoboCop, The Iron Gi­ant, Short Cir­cuit, WALL- E, Trans­form­ers and, rather awk­wardly, Dis­trict 9 it­self – re­place Chap­pie with one of the Prawns, add some more guns and it’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily sim­i­lar.

Be­cause so many el­e­ments are al­ready familiar, the story con­se­quently holds no sur­prises. Dev Pa­tel’s ge­nius tech de­vel­oper in­vents a force of robot po­lice­men to help on the streets of Jo­han­nes­burg, then man­ages to make one of them sen­tient while he’s be­ing held prisoner by street thugs Ninja and Yo- Landi ( both of whom give per­for­mances so bizarre they’re prac­ti­cally car­toon char­ac­ters given flesh – not sur­pris­ing, given that they’re South African rap stars who have no busi­ness do­ing any act­ing). The robot, Chap­pie – ably voiced by Blomkamp regular Sharlto Co­p­ley as some kind of hy­brid tod­dler/ hip- hop artist – then sets about learn­ing what’s right and wrong, which is tough when your fam­ily is made up of crim­i­nals.

Add to this a gang­ster who’s got a beef with Ninja and, in what’s prob­a­bly a plot twist too far, Hugh Jackman as a ri­val robot de­vel­oper who wants to launch his own ma­chine on the streets ( it’s called Moose, but ba­si­cally it’s an unashamedly souped- up ver­sion of RoboCop’s ED- 209), and you’ve got the set- up for an en­ter­tain­ing com­ing- of- age ac­tioner which ends, nat­u­rally, with moun­tains of ex­plo­sions and gun­fire.

So yes, Chap­pie is de­riv­a­tive, and you’ll see ev­ery plot twist com­ing from so far over the hori­zon you’ll have time to go and make a cup of tea be­fore it ar­rives. But de­spite all of th­ese draw­backs, it does still man­age to be great fun, with as­ton­ish­ing ef­fects work and en­er­getic per­for­mances ( even from those mis­placed mu­si­cians, who are def­i­nitely fun to watch, if not en­tirely con­vinc­ing). Logic might not be its strong suit, but the bunny- eared Chap­pie him­self is a hoot. Not en­tirely a suc­cess, then, but you won’t re­gret see­ing it. Jayne Nel­son Blomkamp cast Ninja and Yo- Landi af­ter lis­ten­ing to their band, Die Ant­wo­ord, while mak­ing Ely­sium.

But Sue should re­ally have been read­ing The Big Book Of Good Hair­cuts.

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