Chap­pie

Ghost in the ma­chine gun

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

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

Hol­ly­wood

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.

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