Robot 22 is Alive
With Johannesburg using robots from the Tetravaal Company to police the community there is rivalry between inventors as Deon Wilson's (Dev Patel) robots have been chosen over Vincent Moore's (Hugh Jackman) more weaponised robots. But whilst Vincent is trying to discover what goes in to Deon's current robot Deon is working on full artificial intelligence. But when Deon is kidnapped by a group of criminals whilst transporting a defunct robot in his van he is forced to rebuild the robot and place his artificial intelligence component into the robots system. Now the criminals have a robot of their own who they can teach from scratch as he needs to learn but Vincent is still snooping around and is prepared to create chaos to get Deon's robots shut down and his replacing them.
Comedy has its place but for me its place was not in Neill Blomkamp's robot movie "Chappie" as it ends up making some of it simply daft. It comes from the idea that this robot, Robot 22, has to learn from scratch and so imitates the mannerisms of the criminals who teach him to act street. Technically it is not a bad idea but at times it ends up ridiculously corny and a bit too much like "Short Circuit 2". I don't know whether the comedy was intentional but it is a mistake which ends up dragging "Chappie" down by dominating things.
But look past the comedy in "Chappie" and the rest of the movie is mostly good with Neill Blomkamp once again exploring an interesting situation with his focus on robots used for policing. The whole drama of an inventor building an AI system combined with the jealousy of a growingly unhinged competitor lays way to just enough drama and story to make "Chappie" interesting. And of course there is the movie's visual design and from the way the robots look to the way they move it is certainly impressive without ending up making the movie just about the effects.
Dominating the movie is a question which crops up again when it comes to the acting. Now Dev Patel gives a solid performance as Deon whilst Sigourney Weaver's few scenes as the boss of the corporation adds her star name but not much else as the role doesn't call for much. But then there is Hugh Jackman and he plays his part as Deon's rival nicely but who ever decided to have him walk around in shorts and a mullet made the wrong choice because he ends up standing out too much.
What this all boils down to is that "Chappie" ends up this mix of right and wrong with good ideas ending up being undone by the humour whilst the look of the robots is great the look of some characters is simply wrong.