Chappie (2015)

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Chappie is about Chappie the gangsta conscious robot from Johannesburg. He learns to walk, talk, fire guns, beat the shit out of people and most importantly… he learns to love. I absolutely love this robot. He’s voiced by Sharlto Copley who was the lead in District 9 which was directed by the same director and also took place in Johannesburg. It must be the guy’s accent because even in District 9 he had me cracking up. Something about the way he swears gets me every time and this movie is no exception. The way he swears, calls Yolandi and Ninja mommy and daddy, and his childlike innocence was just hilarious to me and I was thoroughly entertained by him. The shootout at the end was a little cheesy with the slow motion yelling, but I did enjoy how they left enough time to really feel the emotion of the scene. Not to mention, the special effects were pretty damn good in this movie. There were times when I wasn’t sure whether I was watching a real prop robot or a CG one and I loved that.

While I just loved watching the scenes with Chappie in it, I absolutely hated the scenes with Deon. I hate the stereotype that all programmers have to chug red bull to keep coding through the night. You’re going to tell me some mid 20s kid wrote the code for perfect consciousness all by himself by chugging some red bull? Like please… there are teams of people with scientific backgrounds that still haven’t been able to do it. I find this so annoyingly unrealistic that it made me mad enough not to want to watch the rest of the movie. To put a rotten cherry on top of that sundae, he brings his new found AI to the boss lady and explains it as a robot that can learn to write poetry and paint. Seriously? That’s your best pitch? How about that you discovered consciousness which in itself can be very useful in military and police applications, but if not for that then to harness and sell for a lot of money. Not the most moral of applications, but I find it impossible to believe someone can just discard this discovery. She won’t even give him a garbage robot to do his little experiments on. It’s an incredibly clumsy way for Deon to be able to power up Chappie in private without the company knowing about it.

This is a hard movie for me to recommend or even rate because my brain knows that the plot was sort of weak and it wasn’t the best made movie… but my heart can’t get enough of that robot. This verdict comes down based on pure entertainment value. I think it’s a movie I would watch again. I’d just maybe skip over the first 20 or so minutes.

Verdict: 7/10 No! You don’t use guns!

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The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster is a sci-fi movie set in a world where everyone must be paired up at all times. If you’re single you’re brought to a “Hotel” where you can meet a partner… or be turned into an animal if you don’t. Loners are the scum of the earth: police are constantly asking them for papers, they’re tranquilized and captured like wild animals, and they’re turned into wild animals if they don’t find partners.  In this extremely weird world, we follow a newly single man into the hotel where we learn about the rules and consequences of this society. Scene by scene we’re fed more information until, by the end of the movie, we finally feel like we have the whole picture. There are essentially 3 different sections of society: the Hotel, the City and the Woods. The Hotel is for loners looking for partners, the City is for partners, and the Woods is for loners who want to stay alone. This movie manages to take us through all 3 sections so we can see how each of them live and how each of them might feel about the society as a whole. It also allows the audience to form their own opinions about each of the sections.

While the structure of the story was the strongest part of the movie, I did have problems with some of its details. The first is that I don’t really understand why they had to be turned into animals. It brings up a lot of unanswered questions for me, like are all animals on earth former humans? If that’s the case, then whenever we eat a lobster or cow are we really eating people? Do the animals have memories of their past human lives? One scene in the movie suggests that they do retain some memories which makes the prospect of us eating people even more disturbing. How can a camel survive in the woods? Why would a person want to be a lobster when obviously it’d be cooler to be a bird since you can fly? I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but sadly I’ll never find out. Just like I’ll never find out what happens to the main characters because the movie just ends. I’m really getting tired of movies that end with ambiguity and unanswered questions. I can appreciate this in the right movie, but I don’t feel like this movie deserved that kind of ending. You don’t know for sure whether he’ll end up with her or not. For me it doesn’t work because the movie never played with the “will they, won’t they” story element. It’s sort of tacked on for a cheap ending. Sometimes I don’t always want to make up my own ending for movies, I want to watch the ending that the director envisioned. When the scene cut back to the woman sitting in the booth I had this feeling the movie might be ending and then I saw the black credit screen and I was just more upset than anything.

Aside from the ending and unanswered questions, my other problem with this movie is the fact that it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. I didn’t actually realize this until I finished the movie and was reading other reviews. All these reviews were harping on how funny it was and that’s when I looked back and realized that I didn’t laugh once. I legitimately thought it was a serious movie. I can see scenes that were probably supposed to be funny, but it didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, comedy is very subjective, but as a dark comedy this movie missed the mark which might be a problem since it’s supposed to provide some satirization of our own society and satire generally implies humor.

Lastly, in rapid fire, here are more things I just didn’t enjoy about this movie. I didn’t enjoy the way the lines were delivered, the bluntness of what they were saying, the narration, the fact that a near sighted person can only be with another near sighted person, the weird no masturbation rules at the hotel, and the weird grinding of the men to get them all excited. This movie has some interesting ideas, but nothing felt fleshed out enough for me to really get invested in it. I watched the entire thing but I don’t think I’d ever re-watch or recommend it.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs less bad omen dog killing and more Léa Seydoux being French