When I first saw the respective trailers for these two films in the cinema, somewhere over a year ago; I held a reasonably high level of hope and anticipation towards them. At the same time, there was also a strong sense of reservation – the kind, of which, had prevented me from watching either one until quite recently.
Chappie – Part science-fiction with an exploration into the idea of an AI with its own mind. I liked the concept. I hadn’t a clue who many of the actors were but I was reminded of films like Short Circuit and, well, AI.
It’s a recent effort from Neil Blomkamp – he who is perhaps best known for District 9 and Elysium. Naturally, this film also stars Sharlto Copley (albeit, as a voice actor behind the starring role). District 9 is a film that grew on me. For Elysium, I could not say the same.
Chappie starts off alright. We learn that this part of South Africa is basically policed by robots who have dramatically reduced the crime rates in Johannesburg. These are the creation of Dev Patel’s character, while Hugh Jackman’s role festers in the background; bitter and resentful as his ‘Moose’ robot is seen us unfavourable compared to what Deon Wilson (Patel) has created.
So, Chappie comes along once one of the robots of several damaged in the line the of duty. In his spare time, Wilson has been working on this almost-human AI and, in spite of the denial for permission from his boss at Tetravaal (played by Sigourney Weaver), he takes advantage of ‘No.22’ (the damaged robot) and, soon after, Chappie is born.
It’s as Deon makes his break from Tetravaal that he is intercepted by perhaps the film’s biggest low point – the ‘gangsters’.
If the haircut’s aren’t enough of a warning, then perhaps I should inform you of their names (including ‘Ninja’ and ‘Hippo’). Worse than that, I think they’ rap artists in real life and might have tainted the closing credits with their sound.
It’s once this gang gains ownership of Chappie that this film begins to plummet downhill. Fast. All while bearing in mind that this is still well within the first half of the movie.
Chappie is encouraged to walk and talk like he’s ‘cool’ and, well, I found myself beginning to wish as though perhaps his ‘birth’ had been unsuccessful instead. There are too many plot holes in this one (for example, the ease of which Deon is able to break out of Tetravaal with a damaged robot). But I doubt either Makita or Red Bull will be complaining for the product placement they received (see, even Makita cannot save this one for me).
Maleficent – A Disney class retold? Why, it could be as brilliant as some of Tim Burton’s non-Disney related efforts of the past decade… Right?
Sadly, this film bears too many similarities to Chappie – not solely, for the inclusion of Sharlto Copley in a leading role.
I wasn’t fully aware of the original prose (even though I think it ends with sleeping beauty pricking her finger on the spinning wheel – which I thought was due to Rumpelstiltskin?!).
Within the sacred Moors, we meet a young Maleficient; perhaps the most powerful fairy of all, in a land that has no monarchy. On the outside, the king feels threatened by the growing power from within and seeks to vanquish it. At a young age, Maleficent meets Stefan – a mere mortal who would later grow up to become king. As time goes on, they grow apart, clash, well, Maleficent develops from beautiful fairy to evil sorceress.
Sleeping Beauty is the daughter of King Stefan and we get to see her grow up in an almost pointless way; supposedly safe from Maleficent – who is still able to monitor her progress and development on a near day-by-day basis…
Can you tell, I just wasn’t feeling it with this one?!
I’m currently watching two other DVDs (although not right now and, certainly, not simultaneously) that prove to be a little more entertaining. You’ll hear about them soon.