Movie Review: Chappie goes beyond SciFi

Movie Review: Chappie goes beyond SciFi 5.00/5 (100.00%) 2 votes

Neill Blomkamp, the producer of the 2009 SciFi movie District 9 has come up with a new SciFi film, Chappie, that looks like it could have been a sequel to District 9, but isn’t. Both are filmed in Johannesburg and feature some of the same actors. It’s a phenomenal hit that keeps you guessing.

By Ray Hanania



Chappie is a great new SciFi film by Neill Blomkamp, the South African filmmaker who gave us the under appreciated SciFi film District 9.

District 9 starred Sharlto Copley as an administrator who is tasked with relocating a million aliens who landed in South Africa 20 years earlier and have been concentrated in a camp outside of Johannesburg, with their space craft still hovering near the city.

The aliens were derogatorily referred to as prawns, because they looked like Shrimp with arms, legs and a head with facial protrusions. It was a great SciFi film that also explored society’s fears and the fundamental racist nature that human beings embrace and tolerate when it involves intelligence species different from their own.

Human beings seem to always want to have someone to dislike.

Chappie is a whole different spin that includes Sharlto as the voice of a robot run by the city’s police department. Johannesburg has contracted out to a private corporation that makes robots and experiments with artificial intelligence to create an army of robots who will act as police. Its premise is similar to RoboCop and also to I Robot that starred Will Smith.

What Chappie does well is it goes beyond the Sci-Fi expectations and wraps itself around a good story of corporate greed and corruption, and street gang crime.

Sharlto Copley as H.M. "Howling Mad"...

Sharlto Copley as H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock in the 2010 The A-Team film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obviously, both District 9 and Chappie cast Johannesburg in a negative light as a beautiful city with a ghetto consumed by gang crimes, drugs and killings. Why else would you need robot police? But Chappie is one of the hundreds of robot police that gets damaged in repeated conflicts with the bad guys, who use weapons that I am sure our military servicemen wish they could use against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State). We don’t even arm our soldiers as well as the drug dealers.

Chappie has to learn life the hard way in this environment of corruption when a well-meaning company technician, Deon, who is the genius behind the robot system, played by Dev Patel, decides to use Chappie’s broken remains to experiment with a new form of Artificial Intelligence system he designed. Making matters worse, nearby sits the jealous company colleague, Vincent Moore, played by Hugh Jackman, who wishes he could get the accolades that Deon gets all the time from the company’s wealthy president, Michelle Bradley, played by Sigourney Weaver, no stranger to great SciFi movies.

Dev Patel

Dev Patel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, when you deal with street gangs and drug related crime gangs like those that seem to populate the fringes of South African society, you are going to hear words you wish your 14 year old son might not have to hear to enjoy the film. But, the bad words are a part of the reality of life and if anyone thinks there 14 year old child, let along 9 year old or even younger, hasn’t already heard all of those words and more in the school yard, you are mistaken and detached from the real world. They’ve been heard, and many times.

There’s not any sex, but there is a lot of violence. And again, are you kidding me? You’re going to complain about violence when nearly every popular film is drenched in violence, driven by violent scenes and consumed by violent plots? Our television is a violence image propagator.

So give Chappie a break and let your kid enjoy it.

The genius in the movie Chappie is that it takes a Science Fiction concept and merges it with an everyday life experience.

That’s the best kind of movie. Plus, I took my wife and she loved it. And when a wife loves a movie, you know you have a hit out of the park.

I wanted to see a sequel to District 9 — remember how it ended and the promise the escaping Alien made to Sharlto’s character? Three years. It’s been more than three years Blomkamp. Come on!

I tell you also, South Africa has one kick-ass movie industry, especially when it comes to Science Fiction.

It also stars South African musician and singer Yolandi Visser, with the rap rav group Die Antwoord, and rap partner Ninja (also known as Watkin Tudor Jones). Yolandi and Ninja play with their own names, which is interesting.

I give this film Five Stars.

Click here for IMDb Movie details.

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate and his column is feature every Sunday in the Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News on several Chicagoland blogs including the and

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]