I am consciousness. I am alive. I am Chappie.
Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings—some good, some bad—and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there’s one thing that makes Chappie different from any one else: he is a robot.
My family and I watched Chappie as the result of a challenge. We were told at our local library that no one could get more than ten minutes into the movie before giving up. Even though the movie didn’t sound like something we’d like, the summaries making it sound like a rogue robot goes on a murdering spree, but we couldn’t resist trying. Well, not only did we get through the entire movie, but we all enjoyed it. It is a very unusual movie in that it doesn’t follow the usual formulas but rather does its own thing.
Chappie is undeniably the heart of the movie; one cannot help but love the spunky robot with the big heart. A robot who can learn, think and feel just like a human being. He is surrounded by many unsavoury characters, but that only makes his humanity shine all the more. In fact, the more time the characters spend with Chappie, the better of a person they become. He trusting innocence brings out the best in those he comes into contact with. This of course leads to all kinds of questions such as nature vs. nurture and the definition of existence and what constitutes ‘living’.
Set in a near future Johannesburg, violence is the key to survival. The story behind the movie is that robots were created to act a part of the police force and stamp down on crime. So the movie also focuses on the line between constructive and destructive use of robotics.The violent backdrop of the movie is what sets the plot in motion and makes Chappie’s storyline shine in contrast. It’s one of the few movie’s I’ve seen that makes good use of swearing and gore. Though the language is rather gratuitous. But throw in some crazy action scenes, rogue programmers and gangsters trying to make a living, and you’ve got Chappie.
The last portion of the movie I wish to discuss is that of consciousness. Chappie provides an interesting take on the whole soul/body/mind discussion with an ending that is ever so slightly unsettling – but good nonetheless as it ties everything together.
So that’s Chappie – a mixture of violence, philosophy, technology and a surprising amount of heart. It’s certainly worth a watch.