Sunday, November 15, 2015

[Movie] Something about 'Chappie'

I was excited before I watched the movie. One, because the trailer was awesome. Second, because the director was Neil Blomkamp who also the same director for District 9 and Elysium. And finally, Sharlto Copley plays the part as Chappie. So with those all important elements combined, what went wrong?

I literally lost for words right after watching it. That's I didn't write anything about this movie even though it was released since March 2015. It leaves me with a mixed feeling. I don't feel that its bad, but perhaps my expectation was too high so I felt a little bit disappointed.

Plot-wise, it was well written. Everything went well, until somewhere around the middle of the movie, the whole thing felt like it was tailored for someone or certain group. It began with introduction where, ugh, South African government decided to deploy state-of-art droids to battle the rise of crime rate in Johannesburg city.

Apparently its cheaper to deploy droids than employing people in the workforce. I suppose droids can't be bribed, so that's a plus for anti-corruption effort. Though crime rate kind of correlate with unemployment rate.

This is not Chappie.
Well, whatever. Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), an engineer from Tetravaal, have developed a humanoid robot dubbed as Scout, that can be easily mass produced and easily programmed to perform series of complex tasks such as patrolling an area, subduing criminals, and many other menial tasks. The robots require minimal maintenance and can perform tasks that could kill a normal human several times over.

Deon's colleague, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), however are jealous with Deon's achievement, thinking that his humanoid robot is too autonomous and vulnerable to hacking. Though Tetravaal convinced that their Scouts cannot be hacked without access to the 'guardkey', an encrypted thumbdrive that required to be plugged into the mainframe in order to update the robots' software.

Vincent himself design another robot called MOOSE, though the South African government officials find that Vincent's robot is a little bit too 'overkill' to be deployed for mere policing works. Huge and bulky, Vincent's robot is armed to the teeth with vast array of weaponry that is more suitable for war combat duty instead of law enforcement.  

Now this, is Chappie.
But the major difference between Vincent's robot and Deon's, is that MOOSE is operated by a human operator using a mind-reading helmet while the Scout is an autonomous pre-programmed robot. Now this is the part where things gets crazy.

Deon wants to create a real Artificial Intelligence. He tried fruitlessly to convince his boss to test his AI program using the Scouts. But, his boss watched Terminator movie before, and refused to let the Scouts to gain sentience. Deon then decided to pick a damaged Scouts and install the AI into the robot to test its results.

Which doesn't end well because he ended up being kidnapped by a gangster group. Ninja (Ninja), Yolandi (Yolandi Visser), and America (Jose Pablo Cantillo). The trio grabbed Deon and forced him to reprogrammed the damaged Scouts to be their crew, But Deon took the opportunity to install the AI software. Oh, did I mentioned that Deon 'borrowed' the super secret guardkey thumbdrive from his office?

The damaged Scout then gained sentience, and started to think for itself, all the while walking around with the guardkey attached to its core processor. Which lead Vincent to hunt down the sentient Scout, and took the guardkey and sabotaged the Scouts operation throughout the city in order to persuade his boss and the local authorities to deploy his MOOSE.

Chappie, the sentient Scout's name, at first was taught by Deon about life, but the trio gangster tried persuade Chappie to commit crime. Chappie was in conflict, though he tried his best to help everyone in any way possible. Ninja and America found a loophole where they could ask Chappie to do something (like grabbing a car), without informing Chappie that its a crime to hijack a car, which lead Chappie to commit crime without knowing.

Chappie is alive!! Whoa, what happened to Deon?
Deon tried to reverse this and tried to teach Chappie the concept of good, but failed miserably. Because Chappie found out that Deon, his 'maker', never intended to let him to live a good life. As a damaged Scout originally, Chappie's damage is much more terminal than he thought. His chassis was melted from an RPG shot, causing his power unit to be irremovable. Meaning that when his power source is depleted, Chappie will die for good.

Felt betrayed and lied to, Chappie tried his best to find a way to survive. Unfortunately, Chappie is different from normal Scouts, because instead of pre-programmed software, Chappie have 'consciousness' now. Deon was also wrecked with guilt seeing Chappie struggling to survive, started to understand that to be sentient is to live, and decided to help Chappie to get a new body.

The only way to do that, Chappie need a new robot body, MOOSE's mind reading helmet to transfer his 'consciousness', and the 'guardkey' thumbdrive that will allow the transfer to the new robot body, which all of items are held by the evil Wolverine- I mean Hugh Jackm- I mean, Vincent.

So all they have to do, is beat up that guy and grabbed everything they need, right? Well, might not went the way they wanted though. Chappie did get a new body, but Deon also ended up being a robot (he's the orange one).

Now, here is where I have a mixed feeling. The movie was good, entertaining and all of that. But, the part where that one helmet could transfer 'consciousness', I mean its plausible for Chappie's, but Deon as well? That one helmet is literally a game changer in the entire movie.

Oh well, it is a science fiction. So everything goes, I suppose. I don't really mind about that, really. But the dramatic scenes in this movie are suffocating. Literally.

I mean, we get it, Neil Blomkamp, you really loves the Die Antwoord group. I like their songs too. But.. why America have to die? I liked that guy, he's hilarious and have an awesome mustache. I have a feeling that the director doesn't like awesome mustaches.


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