Well, we are a couple weeks in on the newest Chappie trailer and people are already dismissing Neill Blomkamp’s latest Sci-Fi vision. I, for one, believe District 9 is exemplary science fiction, and I believe that Blomkamp should be expected to match that mark after… let’s call it a “sophomore slump.”
Let’s take a look at the most recent Chappie trailer and try to convince ourselves that Bloomkamp is returning to the glory he achieved with his first film.
First thing before we get started. Yes, that is Hugh Jackman (who plays Vincent Moore). Yes, that is a mullet. Calm down, ladies. And calm down, any guy who plans on growing one thinking it is “in style,” because you can not pull that off.
Back to business. Bloomkamp is always working the “futuristic problem,” measuring the inevitable logical conclusion to the evolution of our modern society’s flaws. This time it involves a company that produces robots to police their city (MNU before the aliens?). These robots are badass enforcers of the law, and for some reason in this trailer, good ole’ Hugh and his mullet are not happy about it. Nor are they happy about Chappie (a robot that has its own thoughts and feelings and, probably, its own understanding that it’s not a very original movie concept). So far, I’m optimistic that Bloomkamp is returning to his old, less bluntly opinionated thematics and focusing more on the fun of it all.
So far, all of Blomkamp’s films align his heroes with “the people” against the rigid oppression of capitalist supported social structures. His class system concerns were too forceful and up front in Elysium (or maybe they were a test run for the Halo movie) but pitch perfect in District 9. Where Chappie seems different: it produces a third party in Vincent Moore who offers a contrasting measure to both sides and is motivated by his own vendetta of becoming worthless to society. He is an ex-soldier that refuses to let go, is corrupted by power, and is doing everything he can to prevent Chappie (and other intelligent robots) from existing.
We give the guy a hard time about Elysium, I mean damn, that was only his second film, but let’s pause mid-discussion and remember how awesome District 9 is?
Fucking awesome, if you’re still struggling.
Now, try to view the trailer through that lens. Especially these sequences: One shot early with Dev Patel’s character Deon is first working on who seems to be Chappie. It had the same vibe of the first 30 minutes District 9’s documentary-like approach, recalling the same type of video quality. That was when I was first sold. His ability to take on two different types of movies/filming styles in his first attempt at filmmaking was an extraordinary balancing feat. Another promising trailer moment: when that giant, man-powered robot drops down and starts blowing shit up. Yeah, that is Bloomkamp calling on his heart. Be excited about that. Some will say “outrageous”; I say more, please. Also, that shot of Chappie looks so damn similar to the final shot of District 9, and I am not mad one bit. Of course, we can tell Sharlto Copley provides the voice and animation for Chappie. You know the star from District 9 (unreal how good he was) and he was the only good thing about Elysium. I’m done with the naysayers on this one!
I may be speaking for myself, but it would be amazing to see Blomkamp return to what made District 9 so great. And, sentimentality and borrowed plot aside, I am overly enthusiastic about how much this trailer reminds me of his first film. Let’s remember Peter Jackson jumped on this guys bandwagon and recognized his ability to engage an audience in with cutting-edge action and intelligently conceived awesome storylines. Here, The execution feels right. The hype should be back. I will say the marketing is not nearly as good as his first attempt. I think that is the problem. Here is to hoping that he returns to all his unparalleled breakthrough form (please world, let this happen), and here is to everyone giving this movie a chance. Cheers.
Photos: Sony Entertainment Pictures (SPE)