Neill Blomkamp made a big noise with his first narrative feature, and one of the things that made “District 9” so electrifying was that it seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a surprise, and it was a fresh take on science-fiction during a period when it felt like there wasn't much being done in the genre.
The hard part about coming out of nowhere and surprising everyone is that you can only do it once. His second film, “Elysium,” had the crushing weight of expectation on it, and Blomkamp stumbled in the execution. It's certainly an ambitious film, and he's just as technically adept as he was in “District 9,” but he wasn't really able to pull all of the narrative threads together. One of the common elements between the two films was Sharlto Copley, the hero of one film and the villain of the other.
Now Copley's doing something outside the box for Blomkamp's new film, and I'm excited to see if this one works as well as a feature film as it does as a trailer. I love the way “Chappie” looks, and Copley's playing an artificial intelligence, a robot created by a team led by Dev Patel. Hugh Jackman appears to be an anti-AI crusader of some sort, and Die Antwoord show up in there as well. It's a whole lot to take in at once.
Devin Faraci suggested today on Twitter that the trailer is a complete misrepresentation of what the film actually is, and if that's true, that's a huge mistake. There are few things that set an audience up for disappointment more than a trailer that sells the wrong movie. I want to see the film that this “Chappie” trailer promises, and if it's not that, it'll be hard for me not to be somewhat let down. What's funny is that Devin disliked the trailer, so if it turns out not to represent the film, then he'll most likely be excited.
We're on the verge of an exciting age in terms of computers and AI and robotics, and I'm fascinated by science-fiction that wrestles with the big moral and ethical questions about these things. I think Blomkamp is an exciting filmmaker, and I hope that this turns out to be another success for him.
“Chappie” will be in theaters March 6, 2015.