Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Neill Blomkamp is THE MAN! Sure, all of you hateful critics are going to harp on the fact that Elysium wasn't as good as District 9, and, however true that may be, I personally didn't hate it as much as everyone else. It had problems. Heck, even Blomkamp has been hating on it, as of late. But, it wasn't terrible! It just didn't have the wow factor that came along with District 9. Instead, it felt a bit more like a typical sci-fi action flick and, if judged accordingly, holds its own. That said, Chappie is being seen as a chance for Blomkamp to redeem himself, and I was quite hopeful that he would be able to shut the critics up with this film. To me, the trailers for Chappie were absolutely terrible, particularly considering that Blomkamp has sold the film as a sort-of comedic sci-fi flick. Regardless, I knew that I would be checking Chappie out on opening weekend, and that is exactly what I did...
While there were a few superfluous moments throughout this sci-fi dramedy, I was totally pleased with the story! While I can't pinpoint the reason, Blomkamp never has any problem connecting with me, and his ability to discuss social issues with his characters (however blatant) is something that I really enjoy. Chappie had a large resemblance to District 9, being set in the slums of Johannesburg and focusing on a character who was a bit of an outcast. Where District 9 was about not being accepted by your own people, Chappie focused more on the issue of not accepting new ideas and individuals who may not be anything like you. Sure, that element may have been shoved down the audience's throat a bit... But not any more than it was in District 9! Overall, Chappie really felt like an early 2000s sci-fi, action film, with its mix of humor, action, and fun. I'm not exactly sure why people have been so harsh on this film, but oh well...
In the past, Blomkamp has sort of bombed with any character that wasn't played by Sharlto Copley (one of THE MOST underrated actors, by the way). While I am one of his biggest fans, there is no forgiving the horror that was Jodie Foster in Elysium. Thankfully, Chappie took a turn for the better...
You may or may not know, but I LOVE The Newsroom. And, what an appropriate time to bring that up, as I'm going against the critical flow! Anyway, on The Newsroom, Dev Patel plays Neil, who runs the news show's blog and pretty much anything else that has to do with technology. As I watched Chappie and saw Patel playing pretty much the exact same character, I just couldn't quite turn Neil off, in my mind. While Patel's performance wasn't horrible, I just don't think I connected to him as well as I should have. And, he never EVER closed the trunk to his van, which really pissed me off. Additionally, the mean guy who spoke English but still had subtitles... Yeah... Why?!?
Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser, who actually played a version of themselves in the film, were quite fun as non-traditional gangsters, however goofy they may have been. Sure, there were times when you could tell that they needed some acting help, but the characters accomplished what they needed to and allowed for the main man to shine. And, that leads me to... Chappie! Of course, when your name is the title of the film, you are expected to steal the show, but I must say that Chappie was one of my favorite sci-fi characters in quite some time. Sharlto Copley was able to bring him to life in a way that not many could, and I was surprisingly impressed. Chappie was caring. Chappie made mistakes. Chappie made you laugh. But, above all, Chappie made you accept who he was becoming and never missed a beat in doing so...
It appears as if 2015 is going to bring with it the bold return of these stand-alone action flicks, tucked neatly in the holes between Marvel and Star Wars. Unfortunately, the box office has failed to show a large amount of support for such films, which is quite disappointing to me. There was once a day when we could watch something that wasn't a superhero film or Oscar bait and actually enjoy it. It wasn't all Liam Neeson and teenagers killing each other! For me, Chappie was a return to those glory days of action films, when I was a kid who wouldn't have been impressed by the films that I love these days. Additionally, it was a reminder of how much I love Neill Blomkamp, who I believe has yet to miss on any film. Group think is a huge problem in the world of film criticism, and I believe a combination of group think and a horrible trailer led to the critical demise of Chappie. However, my opinion is unwavering. Chappie was a strong action film with an awesome story to tell about outcasts and embracing yourself for who you were truly meant to become. I give Chappie 3.89 out 5 stars.