bizarroFILM: Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

the Chappie trailer

has arrived…


…one day when I rule the world with my nuclear-powered Jack Russells, mandatory sandwich-making classes and 24-hour funk rock soundtrack, I will ban movie trailers.

Trailers ruin everything and cause fanboys the world over to make a mess all over the floor that someone else has to clean up.

that all said, here is the trailer for Chappie, the new Neill Blomkamp movie with a robot.


I enjoy Blomkamp’s style and vision – District 9 has the hallmarks, to me, of a real classic film that you can enjoy multiple times

  • sometimes even without drugs…

D9 has some great ambitious ideas, well executed with visual flair, reasonable acting and some good action…all the while doing things a little differently from the usual Hollywood cliché playbook.

I believe the original movie said what it wanted to say and that, contrary to what many have demanded, it does not need a sequel.

Chappie, judging by the general atmosphere and story in the trailer, is the movie Blomkamp has decided to make as a companion film that could be considered a D9 sequel…it might not be of the same universe , but it revolves around the same bizarre sun.


Blomkamp’s first post-D9 film, Elysium , was okay…needed a bit more focus and better casting. It is a typical sophomoric film from a rising new director wined, dined and having his pants charmed off by gushing (with wetness and money) Hollywood. The film has its moments – largely once again down to Sharlto Copley, who now embodies Chappie.

From the Chappie trailer there is not much to gather how Copley comes through as the motion-captured Chappie, but knowing his acting style – which while not award-winning, is unique and memorable (his Murdock is still the best part of the much unloved A-Team movie a couple of years back…) the Chappie character may get some flesh and bone in the main feature…as much as one can playing a robot.


I am not a fan of Die Antwoord…I am too old for that subversive, reactionary visual bullshit attached to bad music. But live and let live to Ninja and Yolandi, best of luck to them, it is still amazing they have managed to ride this wave of theirs for so long. Hipster Hollywood is notorious for its short attention span – so continuing endorsements by Depp, Marilyn Manson and others, have helped a lot in keeping them in the public eye even when the music has gotten more formulaic and their visual elements more outlandish but more redundant.

I am however a big Waddy Jones fan – I appreciate him as an artist, lyricist and his long list of ADD-riddled world domination schemes (of which Die Antwoord is the most successful “you finally did it Waddy,, and to think, all you had to go all whitetrash-gangsta to finally get your voice heard”)– everything he has done, from Original Evergreen to Max Normal, and all his various musical experiments and toy marketing escapades, and yes, even Ninja for the first five minutes when the whole Antwoord thing blow up in 2010/11 (? I stand corrected on this…) are all the hallmarks of a great artist and even a better -though slightly deluded – marketing genius.


And so to: Chappie – where the universes and visions of Blomkamp and Die Antwoord collide…with Hugh Jackman and that guy out of Slumdog Millionaire along for the ride. All I can say really, is ‘wow…. and …uh?’ – what the heck?

Not going to pass judgement just yet on this, I think we owe it to Blomkamp, that he knows what he’s doing here…but, wow. If I was some Hollywood money-guy and you came to me with the idea of casting two relatively unknown and untested South African weirdo pop culture instigators in a multimillion-dollar movie, I would have shown you the door…to an insane asylum. But luckily, someone bought into Blomkamp’s idea and vision, and it may yet prove to be a gamechanging move…what’s next Jack Parow in the next Scorsese film? Until Chappie, I would have laughed…now that I think about it – that would be a great idea- someone hook up Jack with Marty.

Chappie, though, for now, promises interesting things – it looks good – that same steampunkish-Blade Runner in broad daylight vibe that made D9 so unique…obviously, as a South African, the almost-too-real near-dystopian Joburg setting is very cool – it is nice to see your own surroundings represented in such vivid Hollywoodness – another defining trademark of D9 .

That said, the fanboys around the world are already throwing around snarky “hey, it’s a Short Circuit reboot” and “Wall-E in Mzansi” comments about like a tortured hacky-sack…

Perhaps it all might turn out like that, there’s enough in the trailer to tell us that the plot revolves around Chappie the robot’s voyage of discovery in a hard cruel postmodern world, where he meets Ninja and Yolandi, stuff explodes, Hugh Jackson has a mullet, and Chappie ultimately finds his humanity,…or some such bullshit. Trailers just give away too much of the movie, it’s amazing we bother to see the damn flick at all.

Anyhoo…I’m excited to see it anyway, even if Ninja and Yolandi give me a bit of the groanies and the cringies…don’t stay by the phone, expecting a call from the Academy, Waddy.

In some weird sense of patriotism – in that it is hard to be proud of being South African these days (but that’s a story for another day) – I am glad someone as competent and talented as Blomkamp is choosing to tell the world his unique stories using an interesting (familiar but maybe not so familiar) South African context…

If we take anything away from this first evidence of Chappie, the film – in setting, cast and general aesthetic – will be one of the most bizarre films Hollywood ever put money on.


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