"Enough, Already. Subtract. Not Add. All right?"
Ultimately the problem lies in the script and the intention of making this a stereotypical “action” movie. Everything bogging down this movie is tied to attempts to make the film more commercial and palatable. Hugh Jackman’s character, an impossibly psychotic engineer, takes the film in his meaty hands and throws it wildly off course, careening into a climax filled with explosions, heavy-handed sentimentality and just plain nonsense. In the first half of the film the script already felt clunky and overly expositional, but during the second half all pretense of subtlety and introspection goes out the window, and we’re left with the South African version of “Transformers”.
It’s disappointing, to say the least, because the high points of this film are pulled off with aplomb. Chappie’s engineers put a lot of time into making the guy seem likable, and the robot’s physicality and personality are heartwarming to watch develop. It’s interesting that Chappie is the only character in the film with a complete story arc, and the only character who manages to sound like they’re invested in what they’re saying. Many characters’ motivations, especially Dev Patel’s Deon, seem contrived or forced (there’s a part, I shit you not, where he decides to ignore directives from his supervisor because he looks at a cat poster that inspires him to believe in himself). Chappie’s arc is traceable and relatable, up until that damned last half hour, where everything falls apart.
I’m not sad I saw “Chappie”; as I said earlier, parts of the film made me feel deeply for its central character and think about the possibilities independent AI could offer. But like its namesake, the film was too fragile to fight for its own ideals, and was influenced by the wrong people before it learned what it wanted to be. Its failure will go unnoticed and un-mourned, and science fiction films will continue to not be taken seriously, which might be the saddest part of all.
Is it weird that my first impulse is Jaegermeister? It looks kind of like motor oil. But the best choice would be the cheapest, trashiest beer in the biggest bottle you can find.
-Drink when a newscaster speaks.
-Drink when the film uses subtitles (annoying, because most of the time this is done when someone is speaking English).
-Drink when Chappie learns something.
-Drink for gunshots (woof)
-Drink for profanity.