October 6, 2015


Chappie (Neill Blomkamp, 2015). We’re a long way from District 9, Blomkamp’s first film, which seemed like a genuinely radical and clever sci-fi allegory about race, power, media and law enforcement in near-future South Africa. Chappie is set in the same brutal world but the treatment is juvenile and sentimental, like a cyber-Pinocchio – the title character is a law-enforcement robot that develops childlike human consciousness and grapples with free will – while the poverty and crime tourism that seemed bold and fresh back in 2009 now offers diminishing returns. Only the closing minutes finally promise something better: when intelligence is downloaded from broken machines and given a fresh start, you hope that it is analogous again, this time for Blomkamp’s career.