First Hit: At times disappointing and at other times interestingly introspective.
I’ll start with the interestingly introspective thoughts: Can consciousness be identified, digitized, and downloaded/uploaded?
I loved thinking about this. In this film, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) thinks he can create a computer program that will allow an electronic brain to learn like a child does (although faster). He’s already created programmable robots that act like police people which dramatically brings down the crime rate in Johannesburg South Africa, where this film takes place.
There is also a part where there is an uploading followed by a downloading of the “consciousnesses” of two humans and a robot named Chappie. This stuff is interesting and can cause one to think about the possibilities. However, the criminals Ninja (Ninja), Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser), and Yankie (Jose Pablo Cantillo), where at times clown like and too obvious and overt in their actions to make it work. I found it unbelievable that the thieves let Deon go and return on his own free will.
Additionally, I’m not sure the Vincent Moore character (Hugh Jackman), who had developed a large aggressive armored robot, was required to make this film work. He became the antagonist for the criminals, Deon, the company Deon and he worked for, and society.
In the end it seemed like the writers and directors could have made a more thoughtful film without the demoness of Moore’s character and his robot (which was vaguely too similar to other robots in other films).
Patel was good as the caring “maker”. Visser was oddly and engagingly interesting in her role and verbal cadence. Ninja was overtly too much in both ways; as a uncaring bad guy and as someone who missed his girlfriend. Cantillo was the most interesting criminal. Jackman was good in his role but I didn’t think the role was needed. Sigourney Weaver was weak in her role as decision maker in the company that made the robots. Terri Tatchell’s script was both strong and weak. Neill Blomkamp’s direction followed the script, and used some interesting sets (like the round cylindrical building with the Vodafone sign) but this film lost site of the most interesting subject.
Overall: The concept in this film was really good and the execution faltered in many ways.