In Johannesburg, South Africa, the crime rate is increasing and has reached an all time high. The government has ordered a legion of robots called Scouts from a company named Tetravaal and they keep order on the streets. The robot’s designer is named Deon Wilson, who is interested in more than just making these mindless machines. He wants them to have a consciousness that can create, think, and feel with true AI. Vincent Moore is Deon’s coworker and is working on his own project named MOOSE. Where Deon strives for autonomy, Vincent believes that the machines should still be in human control. The CEO Michelle Bradley needs this project to be a success and also keep the orders rolling in. Deon figures out that if he has a robot, he can install the AI and teach it to learn but Michelle won’t have it.
In another part of town, three gangsters: Ninja, Yolandi, and Amerika need to pay off a man named Hippo and they come up with the idea that if they kidnap the Scout’s programmer, he can shut them down during the robbery. What they find in the back of Deon’s van is better than they expected.
CHAPPiE is the third movie by the visionary director Neill Blomkamp and written by Terri Tatchell. This is the second movie that they have collaborated on including ELYSIUM. They have created this world with believable technology and real-world problems. This is the design for his films in the sense that he wants to give the audience both eye-candy and to think about the issues at hand. To understand what I’m saying, Johannesburg has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It may sound a little harsh but here is the reality: the murder rate is around 50 people a day. Blomkamp grew up in Johannesburg so he has first-hand knowledge as to how rough the city really can be. As far as the acting goes, the whole cast have brought some of their best to the film.
First off, I have been a Dev Patel fan from his role in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and HBO’s NEWSROOM. He has a charming way about him that puts you at ease. In CHAPPiE, he isn’t after money or advancing the company for military purposes, he is curious about making something new that no one has seen.
The pair of Ninja and Yolandi are from the rap group named Die Antwoord and are probably the biggest influences on Chappie (the robot). They are the pair that he refers to as mommy and daddy because it is the simplest way for Yolandi to teach him. She has a sweetness where she doesn’t want to make Chappie just work for the gang but she really begins to care for him. Ninja is a different animal altogether. He just wants to get the robot up and running to pull off this heist. So where Yolandi is caring, Ninja is cruel but Chappie needs that to evolve.
The most standout performance is, hands down, Sharlto Copley’s. He did the mo-cap effects for the majority of Chappie’s movements aside from the hard stunts. The characters were able to interact with him rather than a guy holding a stick and a paper head cutout. He is one of those actors that I truly believe can fit into any role and knocks it out of the park. He even went as far as to wear these drooping shorts and a belt buckle to use as reference for him acting like a gangster. I can guarantee that he is one of those great actors who can avoid being typecast in to one kind of role.
CHAPPiE is one of those sci-fi movies that can easily appeal to the masses. There is action with war-like scenes and robots. Some of the technology is not as far fetched as you might think. With all of the robotics and drones that are being used for military applications, it would make sense for an urban war zone like Johannesburg to need help like this. As far as the AI goes, there are a lot of people working on making that a reality. We are in the time where information can take us as far as actual computing consciousness but is it a good idea?
Sharlto Copley as CHAPPiE
Dev Patel as Deon Wilson
Ninja as Ninja
Yolandi Visser as Yolandi
Jose Pablo Cantillo as Amerika
Sigourney Weaver as Michelle Bradley
Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore
Brandon Auret as Hippo
The video transfer for CHAPPiE is flawless. The video is in 1080p AVC with the picture clarity being on point with clean lines and crisp images. You can easily make out every detail in Chappie’s armor, wiring, hydraulics, and plating. Blomkamp isn’t afraid to get up close to Chappie and you see the weathering all over his “body”. As far as the colors in the film, they’re bold and really pop. This can be seen especially at the gagster’s home where Ninja & Yolanda live. There are brilliant yellows, blues, pinks, and greens in the graffiti everywhere. The skin tones are natural and no one looks washed out. Like most new Sony releases, this was “mastered in 4k” and all the levels have been pushed to the max without overdoing it. There are no areas in the video where the images aren’t recreated realistically.
The track is a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that is what I’ve come to expect from Neill Blomkamp’s films. There is always clear ambient sounds that make the movie feel more alive. The score is always a major player in these movies to convey the feeling of the moment. Not only does the score have a strong LFE presence but the effects pound with gunfire and explosions. The movements in the sound field are so dynamic that is places you right in the movie. All of the effects a separate and easy to make out such as when Vincent launches the MOOSE, you can hear everything that is happening. Also, the voices and dialogue always clear coming form the center channel. The mix is an excellent example of how to make a great Blu-ray.
The extras on the disc go further in depth than most of the new releases out here. I think part of it is that Blomkamp likes to explain every facet of his movies.
-Extended Scene: Very Bad Man
-From Tetra Vaal to Chappie: This featurette looks at the Blomkamp and his process for creating the film. He used his background in visual effects to bring the movie to life.
-Jozi: Real City and a Sci-Fi Setting: This featurette with the cast and crew discuss how Johannesburg is its own character. The realism wouldn’t be as effective without the cityscape.
-Chappie: The Streetwise Professor: This featurette goes over the making of the character but also how Sharlto Copley has made him alive.
-We Are Tetravaal: The featurette discusses the casting choices for Sigourney Weaver, Dev Patel, and Hugh Jackman.
-Keep it Gangster: The characters of Ninja and Yolandi are playing themselves plus being gangsters. They also go over America and how they kept him gangster.
-Rogue Robot: Deconstructing the Stunts and Special Effects: This featurette has the crew creating the stunts and action scenes with practical effects rather than doing everything in postproduction.
-Arms Race: The Weapons and Robots: The actors and crew discuss the weapons used in the movie. They also created a rifle specifically for the film plus colorful pros for Ninja and Yolandi.
-Bringing Chappie to Life: The Visual Effects: The visual effects teams discuss using Copley’s performance to erectly get the performance for Chappie.
-The Reality of Robotics: This featurette looks like the reality of bringing AI to life in the coming years.
-The Art of Chappie Gallery: This picture gallery has the artwork from concept to production of the machines, characters and designs.
I Blu-ray Disc
UltraViolet digital copy
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
I really liked this movie. It has a good story with some of the nest visual effects that I’ve seen to date. This doesn’t have some of the on the nose political statements like some of Blomkamp’s previous movies. There are some questions that would be realistically raised if events like these ever occurred. This tech is in the works and I wouldn’t be surpassed to see it in my lifetime.
The Blu-ray is one of the best recent releases in every way. The video is alive a crisp, the audio has a very strong presence, and the bonus features give so much insight into the movie form inception to final product. I highly recommend this one and suggest you just get out there and pick it up.