Chappie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 31, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Chappie” is a magnificent sci-fi film from Neill Blomkamp. This is no doubt his best film yet but features amazing writing, direction and bringing the world of visual effects and reality together to create a human story starring a robot. This is definitely a top contender as one of the best live action Blu-ray releases for 2015! Highly recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 120 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English and French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Finnish, Indonesian, Spanish, Thai
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures
RATED: R (Violence, Language and Some Nudity)
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Written by Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Executive Producer: Ben Waisbren
Producer: Neill Blomkamp, Simon Kinberg
Co-Producer: James Bitonti, Victoria Burkhart
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Edited by Julian Clarke, Mark Goldblatt
Production Design by Jules Cook
Art Direction by Bobby Cardoso, Emilia roux
Set Decoration by Daniel Birt
Costume Design by Diana Cilliers
Sharlito Copley as the voice of Chappie
Dev Patel as Deon Wilson
Ninja as Ninja
Yo-Landi Visser as Yolandi
Jose Pablo Cantillo as Yankie (Amerika)
Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore
Sigourney Weaver as Michelle Bradley
Brandon Auret as Hippo
Anderson Cooper as Himself
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South African Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has made a name for himself for creating sci-fi films with impressive visual effects but created with a lower budget when compared to Hollywood sci-fi films.
With the success of “District 9” and “Elysium”, Blomkamp has returned with his best film yet, “Chappie”.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp and co-written with Terri Tatchell was inspired by Blomkamp’s 2004 short film “Tetra Vaal”.
The film would feature the voice of Sharlto Copley (“District 9”, “Maleficent”, “Elysium”), Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Last Airbender”, “The Newsroom”), South African rapper Ninja, Die Antwoord vocalist Yolandi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo (“Disturbia”, “Crank”, “Elysium”), Hugh Jackman (“X-Men” films, “Wolverine” films, “The Prestige”) and Sigourney Weaver (“Alien” films, “Avatar”, “Ghostbusters”).
Shot with a larger budget at $49 million, “Chappie” would go on to earn $102.1 million in the box office. The film would receive rave reviews worldwide and now, “Chappie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2014.
“Chappie” is set in the future and to respond against the high crime rate in Johannesburg, South Africa, the government orders state-of-the art, armour-plated attack robots from weapons manufacturer Tetravaal, headed by Michelle Bradley (portrayed by Sigourney Weaver).
The robots are developed by Deon Wilson (portrayed by Dev Patel), much to the chagrin of soldier-turned-engineer Vincent Moore (portrayed by Hugh Jackman), who develops the competing project, a remote controlled MOOSE, which controls a huge robot through the use of a helmet that reads brain waves.
To prevent humans from misusing the robots, a special guard key is created and kept under heavy security at Tetravaal. Because of the success of the robots, the government wants to order more of them and as for Vincent’s project, none of them want anything that bulky, menacing or that expensive.
But for Deon, he has secretly been developing a prototype artificial intelligence that mimics the human mind and allows a robot to feel emotions and communicate with others, like if it were human.
Meanwhile, a group of gangsters which consists of Ninja (portrayed by Ninja), Yolandi (portrayed by Yo-Landi Visser) and Amerika (portrayed by Jose Pablo Cantillo) are trying to sell narcotics to a kingpin named Hippo (portrayed by Brandon Auret). But because the goods came damaged, Hippo wants the group to pay him $2 million by the end of the week.
While during their business deal, the police send out robots to go raid the drug dealers and in the process, the raid was successful but one of the robots was damaged by an RPG.
As Deon works on his prototype artificial intelligence, he tries to tell his boss Michelle if he can experiment with a robot, which she turns him down because she doesn’t want robots with emotions.
But wanting to test to see if his AI works, Deon takes the damaged police robot and takes the guard key in order to test it.
But what Deon doesn’t know is that Ninja and his group are needing money and the only way they can think of getting money is by kidnapping Deon and gaining control of the guard chip, so they can defeat the police robots and literally sell the guard key to Hippo.
So, Deon is kidnapped by them but because they find out that Deon can’t supply them with anything, he is ordered to give them a robot and use his AI on it. Immediately, the robot responds to the AI programming.
As Ninja wants the robot to be a fighting machine, Deon explains that he has the AI of a baby and needs to learn. Yolandi takes a liking to the robot and gives him the name Chappie and treats Chappie like her own child.
But as Deon (who is called the “Maker”) tries to teach Chappie to not listen to the gangsters, he is threatened and he leaves immediately.
Ninja immediately goes to work on Chappie and trying to make him a killing machine but because Chappie’s AI is equivalent to a young boy, he is more curious and opposite of a fighting machine. So, Deon goes to help him with his learning by giving him a book and wanting him to learn about positive things. But Deon is unaware that Vincent has followed him to the hideout.
Wanting to learn life on the streets, Ninja and Amerika dump Chappie in the most ruthless area of Johannesburg, where a frightened Chappie is immediately beaten and burned by thugs who want to destroy him because he is a police robot.
But Vincent, now knowing of Deon’s activities, wants to ruin Deon’s career but also steal the guard chip for himself, so he can get the government to use the MOOSE instead of Deon’s robots. But first, he must capture and destroy Chappie.
“Chappie” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic as Blomkamp and team were able to bring together live-action and visual effects and making them feel natural with efficacy.
Because of the success of the overall mechanical body, visual effects, everything looks not only real but picture quality down to the details on Chappie’s damaged body, the tattoos on Ninja and the overall environments is amazing. Outdoor colors are vibrant, skin tones look natural and black levels are nice and deep.
I am very impressed with the picture quality of this film and this is reference quality! Videophiles should be pleased with how “Chappie” looks in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Chappie” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. And for an action film, this is one lossless soundtrack that is fantastic and reaches reference quality with its use of all channels and LFE. With many scenes involve guns and explosions, the lossless soundtrack can be heard all around you and each explosion can be felt. Subtitles are in English.
And I have to say that how the sound effects is heard all around you and manages to take on the soundscape and making you hear it, feel the noise all around you. It’s an amazing experience that you want to hear on Blu-ray and once again, similar to the video quality, the lossless soundtrack is also reference quality. Fantastic!
“Chappie” comes with the following special features:
- Alternate Ending – (5:16) The alternate ending which I’m glad they didn’t use for the final cut.
- Extended Scene: Very Bad Man – (1:30) An extended scene of the ending fight scene.
- Featurettes – (1:19:30) Featuring several mini-featurettes which include From Tetra Vaal to Chappie, Jozi: Real City and Sci-Fi Setting, Chappie: The Streetwise Professor, We Are Tetravaal, Keep It Gangster, Rogue Robot: Deconstructing the Stunts and Special Effects, Arms Race: The Weapons and Robots, Bringing Chappie to Life: The Visual Effects, The Reality of Robotics
- The Art of Chappie Gallery – A CG based gallery in which you can view conceptual art and sketches.
“Chappie” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code.
While I have enjoyed Neill Blomkamp’s previous sci-fi films, I have to say that “Chappie” will no doubt be one of the shining moments in his film career.
Sure, “Chappie” could have been another similar film to “Robocop” or even incorporate “Terminator” like possibilities but what we have is a film that takes on humanity albeit using a robot character.
It’s not an easy feat. to use a non-human character in a live-action film and for people to feel any emotion towards it but the writing by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell makes us sympathize, empathize with Chappie.
The other interesting plot was to see Chappie being run by an evil corporation or being the instrument of good (or evil) which you tend to see in Japanese animation but a robot who was created for the sake of testing by its creator, but its creator and the robot end up being kidnapped by a notorious gang.
It’s hard to see these things coming, especially with an American perspective, but Blomkamp gives us a perspective of the danger of Johannesburg in the future and even goes as far to shoot in areas of Johannesburg that are dangerous (and even put the crew in danger) as the film crew actually shot at the Ponte Building and the nearby area.
And not only does the crew bring in the environment and atmosphere of Johannesburg, you also have characters based on real life South African talent with rapper Ninja and musician Yo-Landi Visser starring in the film but also hearing their music integrated into the film but also allowing them to be as they are and bring their style to the film.
As for the Blu-ray release, you are literally getting a reference quality release as picture quality and lossless audio are fantastic! The detail of the film, may it be of Chappie or even the characters, everything about the look of the film comes to life and is impressive. But equally impressive is its fantastic lossless audio as the full-on action sequences envelop the soundscape with its 7.1 soundtrack. Every speaker is utilized, LFE’s give out great booms during explosions, the sounds of bullets coming all around you is evident and I was very impressed with both the picture and audio quality of the film.
Special features were OK, as I expected much more than the short featurettes and alternate ending, extended scenes. But for the most part, you do get nearly an hour and half worth of special features.
Overall, “Chappie” is a magnificent sci-fi film from Neill Blomkamp. This is no doubt his best film yet but features amazing writing, direction and bringing the world of visual effects and reality together to create a human story starring a robot. This is definitely a top contender as one of the best live action Blu-ray releases for 2015!
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