South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp broke out with District 9 and then whiffed with last year’s Elysium, and now he’s back with Chappie, the story of a robotic artificial intelligence learning how to be a real boy, made for the “low” budget of $60 million and starring Dev Patel, South African rap duo Die Antwoord, a be-mulleted Hugh Jackman, and Sharlto Copley as
Pinocchio Johnny 5 Ultron Chappie. I really like District 9 and I’m super down with Sharlto Copley in all things, but the trailer for Chappie is the silliest f*cking thing.
But maybe silly in a good way? District 9 has its fair share of goofiness, but it’s the way those elements mesh with the humanity of the story that makes it work. I hope that’s what is behind Chappie, too, because otherwise this is just a Short Circuit remake with bonus Jackman Mullet. It looks great—I’m into Chappie’s retro, almost analog design—but man does this feel familiar. And the whole bit with Jackman persecuting Chappie as potentially dangerous looks particularly weak coming on the heels of Her, which, refreshingly, didn’t treat AI as something to be feared.
I’m holding my breath for Chappie. The trailer makes me nervous but it does successfully introduce us to the concept, so hopefully the next one will delve a little more into the characters and give me a reason to think of it as something more than Johnny 5 Redux. I’m going to need more than a cool looking robot with Sharlto Copley’s voice to fully get on board.
Attached – Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Furness leaving the Oscar De La Renta memorial service earlier this week.