Chappie 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I think it’s time we acknowledge that Neill Blomkamp’s directorial debut DISTRICT 9 might have been a flash in the pan and not a sign that the next great science fiction director had arrived. DISTRICT 9 was original, unique, thought-provoking, intelligent and entertaining at the same time. But his follow-ups, ELYSIUM and now CHAPPIE haven’t been able to match those adjectives. I gave him the benefit of the doubt with ELYSIUM, but CHAPPIE is a misfire on every level.
In the near future, crime in South Africa is managed by a group of robots designed by Deon (Dev Patel). Branded a genius developer by his peers, Deon is upset that he can’t test out a new level of artificial intelligence on one of the robots and so he decides to take matters into his own hands. Meanwhile, small time thugs Ninja and Yolandi (the South African rap/rave group Die Antwood) are frustrated they can’t continue their life of crime because of the robots and decide to kidnap Deon so they can get control of the robots. But after their misguided intentions are realized, they settle on the compromise that Deon will give his new AI test to them so they can program him to do what they want.
When the program is first loaded into Chappie, he’s very much like a newborn baby or toddler. This starts the manipulation Blomkamp does on the audience by creating an inanimate object that has feelings and human traits we relate to. The things Ninja does to Chappie would be terrible if they were done to a child, but the truth is, they were done to a robot. To make matters worse, Blomkamp introduces a comic villain named Vincent, played by a very out of place Hugh Jackman. Vincent is motivated by jealousy and rage against Deon and his goal is to destroy Chappie, thinking him an abomination.
We have some decent themes that are very poorly explored. The idea that one is a product of their upbringing and their environment is really what CHAPPIE is about, but that theme is never fully developed and any time Blomkamp got close to giving the film deeper meaning, he abandoned it for some mild action. Vincent is there to give the counter argument against artificial intelligence, but his character is so comically villainous that we can’t take him seriously. Finally, the ending could have explored all kinds of deeper themes about what a soul is and how it separates humans from machines, but again, it was too lazy and underdeveloped.
Although I found myself suckered into feeling sorry for Chappie, I struggled caring about anything or anyone else in the film. The last 20 minutes or so try to create sympathy for Ninja, who up to that point had been a terrible person and eventually, but it was more frustrating than anything else. Chappie was a poorly developed character that was a reflection of his bad situation and in general, the movie was a disappointing effort from a director that had shown so much promise.
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW
Video: The UHD version of CHAPPIE is not going to sway anyone to join the 4K revolution, but that’s not so much a dig at 4K as it is an endorsement to how crisp and clear the Blu-ray version is. So you’re not going to get clear evidence here that shows off the capabilities of the format, but rather the differences are more subtle. For example, in the scenes where they’re training Chappie to be “gangster”, you can now clearly see explicit details of dirt and dust in the background. No one is going to say “let me upgrade so I can see more dirt”, but that’s really what this version of CHAPPIE gives you; more detail that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Overall, this is a very nice looking Ultra HD release.
Audio: We do get a nice Dolby Atmos track for CHAPPIE and in the few scenes of violence (most notably the end shootout), the Atmos track kicks in and it sounds incredible.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does come with the Blu-ray and you can read our Blu-ray review by clicking the link: CHAPPIE Blu-ray review.
Click 4K Ultra HD to read more of our 4K reviews.