Ghost in the machine gun
Release Date: 6 July
2015 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD/ download Director: Neill Blomkamp Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Yolandi Visser, Ninja, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman
filmmakers continue to be preoccupied with artificial intelligence; Transcendence and RoboCop last year, then Ex_ Machina and Age Of Ultron, Terminator Genisys stomping our way... heck, even Big Hero 6 was about Baymax’s sense of purpose. We’d say it was something in the water supply, except Chappie is South African.
The latest opus from District 9’ s Neil Blomkamp is suffused with the director’s distinctive grimy energy and the simmering violence of a near- future Johannesburg. It’s the story of programmer Deon ( Dev Patel) who uses a damaged police “scout” for his experiments with consciousness, only for his creation to be stolen by gangsters and taught to commit crime. A hothead military contractor ( Hugh Jackman) exploits the situation to justify deploying his own warbot on the streets.
Blomkamp flirts with philosophy – “Maker, why would you build me just so I could die?” asks our rabbit- eared robot as his battery runs down – but struggles to sufficiently develop that, instead preferring cheap jokes about Chappie’s streetwise swagger. Fortunately an endearing performance by Blomkamp’s muse Sharlto Copley stops the CG lead being a metal Jar Jar Binks. It’s certainly hard to like any of the other characters in the film, who all seem either cartoonishly villainous or naive.
Although the bullet- filled climax is thrilling the film is mostly a muddle, not really clear whether it wants to be a comedy or a tragedy – an ironic absence of self- knowledge for a film about the search for identity. Extras: The DVD has just “We Are Tetravaal”, a six- minute featurette about casting, with a heap of love for Sigourney Weaver despite her small role. The Blu- ray ( rated) adds an alternate ending and one extended scene, plus eight more behind- thescenes featurettes ( TBC minutes) on subjects such as the motion capture, the weapons, the design of Chappie, the stunts, the scriptwriting process, the Johannesburg locations, creating an authentic gangster world, and the state of the art in real- life robotics. There’s also an art and photo gallery, plus a multi- part deconstruction of how one scene was choreographed ( 27 minutes). Dave Bradley
“Balls, this pic was meant to be for Snapchat!”
Well, those sideburns are in need of trimming.