‘t Was time for another double feature movie day, today. I met up with Gert at Pathé around 12:30 for the one o’clock showing of Chappie. I’d seen the trailer and was sort of interested. I like sci-fi, I like robots in general, but I wasn’t sure about the story line and the other characters. After seeing it, I still mostly feel like this.
The movie takes place in the very near future in South Africa. After the development of a robot police force, the Scouts, crime in Johannesburg (which is one of the most crime-ridden places in the world) is down drastically. One particular gang of criminals, containing Ninja & Yo-Landi Visser of Die Antwoord, owes a lot of money to a local crime lord. They decide to rob a money truck but realise they need to shut down the Scouts first. They learn, via the internet, that they were created by Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel, and figure if they kidnap him, he can help them shut them down.
I really liked Dev Patel as Deon Wilson. In his free time he’s working on developing the first ever true AI. When he succeeds but is not allowed to use a destroyed chassis to test it, he steals it and is on his way home to insert the AI when he is cornered and stopped by the gang. They take him and the van with materials to their hide out and force him to insert the AI. He reluctantly does so and Chappie comes alive.
Like a baby, he learns things, but at a vastly accelerated rate. Which is good, since he only has about five days to live due to the damage to the battery and the chassis. Deon is sent away but keeps returning to help teach Chappie. He teaches him good morals like no crime and no killing, and shows him books and teaches him to paint. Ninja, on the other hand, needs him for the heist on the truck so wants to teach him gangster life. Outright, Chappie does not accept this, because no crime and no killing. Ninja then rephrases it as ‘recovering his stolen property’ and ‘making people sleep’ and teaches him other weaponry like shuriken and nunchuks.
Chappie also becomes fully sentient as he realises he has a battery that is running out. When told that the battery can’t be changed and that he will die when it runs out, he becomes sad. He does not want to die. Deon tries to help him deal (picture), but Ninja uses it as a tactic to get him to agree to the heist telling Chappie they can use the money to buy a new body. They practice by stealing cars and Chappie, having seen the neural interface earlier, works on isolating consciousness so it can be transferred.
Meanwhile, Deon’s colleague Vincent, played by Hugh Jackman, has his own robot. A military monster, controlled through a neurological interface instead of having an AI, with a fully loaded arsenal. He is trying his best to promote his robot over Deon’s Scouts but their boss isn’t buying it. So he decides to take matters into his own hand. The Scouts can only be programmed by inserting a Guard Keu into their brain. This key is under strict guard. Deon took it so he could program Chappie and Vincent finds out its missing.
He follows Deon and finds out about Chappie. He briefly manages to steal, or kidnap since he is sentient at that point, Chappie. He takes the Guard Key and saws of one of Chappie’s arms as punishment then throws him out. Using the Guard Key he later manages to install a program into all the Scouts causing them to stop working. As criminals start to realise this, mayhem is unleashed upon Joburg.
Chappie makes his way home to the gang, with some stops along the way (picture), and Deon fits him with a new spare arm. Chappie then goes with Ninja and the others to do the heist. A news helicopter catches him while they rob the money truck and the broadcast of a “Scout gone bad” brings even more panic. Both in the public, as well as in Tetravaal, the company Deon works for. The president of Tetravaal authorizes Vincent to use his robot to destroy Chappie. Which is exactly what he wants.
What follows is a robot versus robot battle at the gang’s hideout with a lot of casualties before Chappie manages to disable the mecha. Deon is fatally wounded, Yo-Landi is dead, and Ninja is left to pick up the pieces. Chappie frantically drives Deon to Tetravaal to try and transfer both his own consciousness as well as that of Deon into a new body.
In the end, I found the movie too broad. It is trying really hard to be an action movie and at the same time it would like to pose you several deep thoughts about consciousness and what it means to be sentient and human. And because of this, both parts suffer. I would’ve preferred it had they scrapped the whole Hugh Jackman plot and focused on Chappie figuring out what he is, who he is, asserting himself as his own person and coming to terms with mortality, whether he actually dies or not.
I’m also not really happy with Ninja and Yo-Landi. I kept seeing them more as themselves, i.e. Die Antwoord, than as the gangsters they’re supposed to be. Which is only made worse by them actually wearing Die Antwoord shirts and them using their own names. Their acting is lacking, and as such I do not believe and feel them as characters.
So, in summary, I liked Chappie and Deon and don’t really give a shit about the rest.
After Chappie, we took a quick detour to the supermarket, and then came back in for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Another movie featuring Dev Patel as main character. I really liked this movie. It’s an unpretentious feel good movie, and follow-up to 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In the first movie, Sonny is trying to build up his hotel in India where most guests are elderly and have basically moved in to spend their last years. Now, the hotel is doing really well, so well in fact, that Sonny and one of the residents, co-manager Muriel (a fantastic Maggie Smith), go to the US to ask for financial support from a franchise to open a second hotel. The franchise is interested but not willing to commit just yet so they agree to send out a mystery guest observer to see if it’s worth it.
Once back, Sonny is stressed out and dealing with way too many things on his own. Not only is he waiting for the observer, he also has his own upcoming wedding to worry about. And with how Indian weddings go, this means three parties. Shortly later, two new guests arrive, Mrs Lavinia Beech, who gets the last free room in the hotel, and Mr. Guy Chambers.
Sonny gets all frenzied, convinced that Guy is the observer, since the franchise CEO said he would “send his Guy”. He bumps Mrs. Beech to a barely finished room, and starts pampering Guy. Guy has more manners and switches rooms with Lavinia after dinner. Over the next few days, Sonny expends all his energy on making Guy Chambers like him and the hotel ignoring his other guests, and his fiancee Sunaina. He is also jealous of his fiancee’s friend Kushal as he is the choreographer of the wedding dances and spends a lot of time with Sunaina. Next to that, he has bought the hotel Sonny had his eye on to expand into. As a result, he gets into arguments, bungles the dance on their first party, and gets in trouble with Sunaina, and her family.
Meanwhile, the guests each have their own problems. Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Evelyn (Judi Dench) are very fond of each other but afraid to say it so they keep going in circles and missing each other. Madge is dating two wealthy Indian men and having trouble choosing between them. Norman accidentally takes out a hit on his girlfriend, and is jealous of her other relationships (as they never said they were exclusive) but afraid to say so. And Guy Chambers is interested in Sonny’s mother, who is reluctant to think of a new relationship.
And behind all this, Muriel is doing her best to keep everything together and teach Sonny to do the right thing. After all, she will not live forever and at some point he has to do this on his own. Fortunately, everything works out in the end, every one has their own happy ending, and we get treated to an awesome Indian wedding dance(party). Dev Patel is a very fine dancer 🙂