I’ll admit it, I got so swept up in awards season and Interstellar week that I’d almost forgotten about Chappie, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s $60 million sci-fi film starring Sharlto Copley as a humanoid robot who gets adopted by Die Antwoord. If that sentence doesn’t at least make you chub up a little bit, you and I have nothing to talk about.
Now the trailer is here. It stars Dev Patel as Chappie’s inventor, and the Short Circuit parallels don’t end there. Chappie also learns how to be a human from watching cartoons, learns to paint and write poetry, pets doggies, and gets tutored in the gangsta lifestyle by Ninja. It’s “Los Locos Kick Your Ass” with an Afrikaans twist. Los Locos kick your ass and then claim diplomatic immunity, say. Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman plays the mulleted Australian antagonist who is racist against dog-loving robots.
Entertainment Weekly debuted the trailer.
The futurist filmmaker’s R-rated sci-fi action-adventure Chappie (due in theaters Mar. 6) follows an experimental humanoid who’s abducted by criminals (Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja of the South African rave-rap act Die Antwoord) en route to an Artificial Intelligence day of reckoning. Will Chappie’s capacity to think and feel for himself result in “the next step in evolution”?
Here’s what Blomkamp told Wired about the project last July:
Before Blomkamp can get to Mild Oats, though, he has to film Chappie, a $60 million contemporary sci-fi movie due to begin shooting in Johannesburg in September. Copley will star as Chappie’s titular android—he’ll act out his parts, then be digitally replaced with a CGI bot—and Die Antwoord’s Ninja and Yolandi Visser will play themselves. Chappie sounds like a project more along the lines of D9—Blomkamp describes it as a rawer, quirkier picture than Elysium—but the filmmaker says the lower budget and return to a more vérité shooting style are “project-specific, not part of an overall strategy.”
Chappie, Blomkamp says, is about sentience: “If something is as smart as you, do you treat it differently if it isn’t a human?” He’s cowriting Chappie with Tatchell, who describes the script as laugh-out-loud funny but also emotional. “It’s fairly touching,” Blomkamp confirms. “But, you know, fraught with gunfire.”
Oh man. I want to frot with gunfire. “Frot with Gunfire” is the title of my autobiography.
Anyway, it seems like people aren’t as high on Neill Blomkamp now as they were before Elysium came out, but I wonder if part of that is because they just weren’t prepared for how goofy Elysium was. That’s partly the movie’s fault, since it starts off like a Nolan-y sci-fi movie and then gets progressively sillier from there, and feels like a bit of a misdirect. And I’ll admit Jodie Foster’s was one of the most ill-advised performances in film history (she’s a great actress in the right role, but Nell is also top five). But I still enjoyed it, maybe because I expected goofy from the guy who filmed Sharlto Copley quietly blubbering to himself while eating cat food, which is still one of my favorite scenes of all time. Here’s to hoping Neill Blomkamp went full cat food this time out.