Posted by: greercn | March 12, 2015


The South Africa tourist board will never use these images to lure visitors to Johannesburg. And don’t go to the future. It’s best to stay in the present.

Those are just two of the messages blasting out at you from “Chappie”. Crammed-in concepts and themes include the nature of human consciousness, safety of robot police, parenting skills and fear of crime.

Part Robocop with dollops of crime, tattoos, piercings and weird science, this is Neill Blomkamp’s (“District 9” and “Elysium”) very entertaining and thought-provoking take on Artificial Intelligence (AI) possibilities.

His big set piece explosions and gun battles are all present here too, along with an awful lot of swearing.

Dev Patel puts in a great performance as Deon, the inventor of “Chappie”. He works for a private company that supplies police robots to the Johannesburg police, in the very near future.

Hugh Jackman plays his sinister rival and Sigourney Weaver is the corporate boss. Sharlto Copley is the voice and movement of “Chappie”.

The corporate world is presented in sharp contrast to the crime world, represented by lots of people who escaped from “Mad Max” but mainly by South African rappers Die Antwoord, Ninja and Yolandi Visser. As you asked, Die Antwoord means “the answer”, in Afrikaans.

Blomkamp is from Johannesburg but has lived in Canada since he was a teenager. He wrote the script with his writing partner and wife, Terri Tatchell who brought so much to “District 9” that was missing from “Elysium”, from which she was absent.

My companion and I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a lively discussion about all the ideas stuffed into the movie, after we saw it.

It’s a film that will probably annoy most critics as it buzzes to and fro in many different directions.

You really should see it. In the future, it will be seen as a great scifi classic.

As it’s a Sony/Columbia movie, you get lots of Sony gadgets, instead of that other company with the fruit logo who seem to own every computer and phone in the world, when you’re at the movies.

As a bonus for reading this far, I’m throwing in Blomkamp’s 2004 short film “Tetra Vaal”, which formed the basis of this. Sharp-eyed viewers will note the company name in the film is Tetravaal.


  1. Good review Greer. A movie that was very odd indeed, but hardly ever lost my interest. For better, as well as for worse.

    • I just love the idea of a movie that isn’t a reboot or a remake of anything else. Originality is so rare. Thanks for the great comment!

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