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Neill Blomkamp
Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser
Writing Credits:
Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 6/16/2015

• Alternate Ending and Extended Scene
• Nine Featurettes
• “The Art of Chappie” Galleries
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Chappie [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 10, 2015)

Back in 2009, Neill Blomkamp crashed onto the movie scene with District 9, a dark sci-fi fantasy that earned rave reviews and a nomination for Oscar’s Best Picture. Blomkamp’s follow-up came in 2013 with Elysium, another dark sci-fi fantasy. Though a critical and commercial disappointment, Elysium still managed a passable $286 million worldwide.

Blomkamp returned with 2015’s Chappie, and guess what? He made yet another dark sci-fi fantasy, though not one that found much of an audience. Chappie got Blomkamp the worst reviews of his short career and mustered a mere $102 million worldwide, only $31 million of which came from US moviegoers.

Despite these diminishing returns, Blomkamp landed the gig to reboot the Alien franchise. Given how many similarities his first three films show, I find myself less than optimistic about this release, especially since Chappie shows the chinks in the director’s armor.

Chappie takes us to South Africa in the not-too-distant future. Due to rampant crime, the police force starts to use robotic cops supplied by weapons manufacturer Tetravaal. The winning design comes from young developer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), but Deon doesn’t rest on his laurels, as he works to create an artificial intelligence for his creations.

Although Tetravaal CEO Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) doesn’t grant permission to test the AI, Deon does so anyway, as he slips his invention into a damaged police robot intended for destruction. As Deon heads home, local gangsters kidnap him because they want him to program a robot to steal for them.

Deon resists but the thugs – led by Ninja (Ninja) and his girlfriend Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser) – take control of the robot anyway. They dub him “Chappie” (Sharlto Copley) and both they and Deon work with his developing AI, though for opposing goals. We follow Chappie’s growth and self-awareness as well as a threat posed by competing designer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackson).

In the weeks that led up to the film’s release, I saw two trailers for Chappie. That’s not unusual, as few movies get promoted via only one ad.

However, the two trailers I viewed for Chappie stood out to me because they seemed so radically different. In the first, the movie looked like something in the vein of ET the Extraterrestrial or Short Circuit. This promo left the impression Chappie would deliver a sweet fantasy about a gutsy robot who finds himself.

The second trailer offered a total change in tone. I call this one “Chappie as Directed by Michael Bay”, for it gives the movie a much more action-oriented vibe. It lacks any of the first promo’s cute sweetness, as it heavily favors robot-oriented mayhem.

What does Chappie actually deliver? Something of a mix of those two trends, though in the end, I think it mostly feels like Standard Issue Blomkamp. As seen in District 9 and Elysium, Blomkamp likes to use science-fiction as the platform for social commentary, and that’s fine – to a degree.

Unfortunately, Blomkamp tends to walk the heavy-handed side of the street. That was my biggest problem with District 9, and Blomkamp became even less subtle in Elysium.

Chappie doesn’t change this trend. The film boasts some interesting philosophical questions related to human control vs. AI but it doesn’t investigate these in any substantial manner. Instead, it just takes the meathead path, especially since it makes Vincent come across like an aggressive psychotic. An opponent of robotic AI, Vincent has a valid POV but we don’t accept it because he’s so nasty.

I don’t know if the fault here lies with the character as written by Blomkamp or as performed by Jackman. I’ll blame the director, as Jackman has been too good in too many projects for me to think he suddenly lost all interest in nuanced acting. Whatever the case, Jackman’s Vincent feels like the poster child for ‘roid rage; he never seems vaguely believable as someone smart or intuitive enough to create sophisticated machines.

Another character/acting concern relates to Chappie’s “parents”. Better known as the musical group Die Antwoord, Ninja and Visser seem to have been cast mainly due to their odd stylistic choices, as neither shows any acting talent whatsoever. They fail to create personalities with any charm or verve. Instead, they actively annoy us most of the time.

Chappie also suffers from all the influences it wears on its sleeve – and pants, and shirt, and shoes. The movie feels like a mix of Robocop and Pinocchio - or maybe AI.

Whatever the case, it’s never a particularly original movie, and its rampant Robocop references accentuate this. It doesn’t take a movie geek to realize that Vincent’s “Moose” design looks an awful lot like ED-209, and I doubt it’s a coincidence that the generic voice for Deon’s robots sounds a great deal like Robocop himself. These choices feel more like rip-off than homage.

Despite these flaws, Chappie actually entertains to a reasonable degree during its first half. The situations and events offer just enough intrigue to keep the viewer engaged for a while.

Unfortunately, the movie goes into the crapper during its second half – and especially through its third act. I won’t reveal spoilers, but matters become completely preposterous along the way. Whatever goodwill Blomkamp earned during the first hour or so disappears totally by that third act. These factors leave Chappie as a flawed, often silly movie.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Chappie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transferred looked good.

Sharpness was fine. A little softness occurred in some wide shots, but those didn’t become a concern. Overall definition seemed solid. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and the presentation lacked apparent edge haloes or other artifacts. I also saw no print flaws, as the movie always seemed clean.

In terms of colors, Chappie reflected Hollywood’s modern fascination with orange and (mostly) teal. As tedious as that has become, the colors looked fine within the design parameters. In addition, blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots were decent; some could be a bit dense, but they weren’t bad. This was a generally positive presentation.

Even better, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack delivered an immersive affair. With plenty of action, the soundscape used all the speakers in a vivid, lively manner. Gun battles, explosions, helicopters and other vehicles emanated from logical spots and meshed together in a smooth manner. All of this combined for an engrossing soundfield.

Audio quality also excelled. Music was bright and full, while speech appeared distinct and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Effects seemed accurate and dynamic, as they showed terrific range and impact. I felt pleased with this exciting soundtrack.

When we shift to the set’s extras, featurettes includes nine pieces. Viewed via “Play All”, these run a total of one hour, 19 minutes and 30 seconds. We find “From Tetra Vaal to Chappie” (7:30), “Jozi: Real City and a Sci-Fi Setting” (15:03), “Chappie: The Streetwise Professor” (9:31), “We Are Tetravaal” (5:53), “Keep It Gangster” (7:07), “Rogue Robot: Deconstructing the Stunts and Special Effects” (14:21), “Arms Race: The Weapons and Robots” (6:25), “Bringing Chappie to Life: The Visual Effects” (8:01), and “The Reality of Robots” (5:34).

Across the featurettes, we hear from writer/director Neill Blomkamp, editor Julian Clarke, co-writer Terri Tatchell, producer Simon Kinberg, co-producer Victoria Burkhart, production designer Jules Cook, special effects supervisor Max Poolman, co-producer/1st AD James Bitonti, set decorator Daniel Birt, visual effects supervisor Chris Harvey, lead animator Jeremy Mesana, asset supervisor Barry Poon, compositing supervisor Shane Davidson, colorist Andrea Chlebak, specialty props effects supervisor Joe Dunckley, lead modeler Jeff Tetzlaff, costume designer Diana Cilliers, Die Antwoord stylist Gabrielle de Gersgny, head of hair and makeup Sarah Rubano, stunt coordinator Grant Hulley, lead armourer Olly Steele, armourer Craig Magill, look development lead Mathias Lautour, lead effects TD Greg Massie, lighting supervisor Rob Bourgeault, lead animator Earl Fast, University of Arizona Associate Professor Dr. Wolfgang Fink, University of Arizona visual and autonomous exploration systems Anthony Rodriguez, and actors Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser and Brandon Auret.

We learn about the film’s origins and development, story/character areas and the writing process, visual/set design and various effects, locations and shooting in South Africa, cast and performances, costumes and hair, stunts, weapons, robots and vehicles, and facts behind the movie’s fiction.

Although I wish the disc came with an audio commentary, these featurettes compensate, as they cover the movie well. The segments get into a lot of relevant film-related topics and do so in a compelling manner. The featurettes add a bunch of useful notes and entertain along the way.

Next we get an Alternate Ending (5:16) and an Extended Scene called “Very Bad Man” (1:30). The latter just adds some violence to the existing sequence, but the “Alternate Ending” creates a substantially different finale to the film. It’s both sillier and more effective at the same time.

Called The Art of Chappie, the disc presents seven galleries. We locate “Chappie” (97 stills), “Moose” (43), “Yobot” (42), “Production Design” (26), “Storyboards” (39), “Director’s Sketches” (19) and “Poster Art” (27). All offer interesting material, though the posters become the most intriguing.

The disc opens with ads for Powers, Fury, Aloha, Predestination and Air. No trailer for Chappie appears here.

With every new movie, it becomes tougher to remember why Neill Blomkamp made such a splash with District 9 in 2009. Chappie comes with a decent first half but becomes more and more ridiculous as it progresses. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio along with some informative bonus materials. I like the quality of this Blu-ray but the movie suffers from far too many flaws.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6111 Stars Number of Votes: 18
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