After District 9, South African director Neill Blomkamp stumbled with his sophomore picture, Elysium. You’ll notice something in all the marketing for his next film, Chappie, including this new trailer, it only ever notes his first outing. His next offering looks promising, and though there are some aesthetic similarities, this is markedly different from his previous work.
Voiced by frequent Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley, Chappie revolves around the titular robot “born” into a South African slum, and it looks to add a sci-fi twist to your typical coming of age story. Created by Dev Patel’s character, Chappie is a machine that can think and feel (there’s also a sweet RoboCop POV nod in this trailer), and he has all of the standard learning-the-world growing pains everyone else has, which are all accentuated because he’s mechanical.
Blomkamp is a big believer in using sci-fi as social allegory, and that’s prominently displayed in this footage. This is obviously a scenario where the machine is intended to be more human than many of the humans. You see the intolerance of anything different, and Chappie being picked on just because he’s a little unusual. There’s definitely a wealth of thematic possibilities to mine here, but coming off of Elysium, which is so blunt and heavy in portraying its message, you have to worry that this could easily go down a similar path.
If Elysium had just told the story of those characters in that place, instead of gracelessly and continually pounding away at the moral of the story, it would have had so much more impact. Hopefully Chappie will be delicate enough to get the point across without having to jackhammer it home. Getting you genuinely involved in the story from an emotional standpoint carries significantly more weight.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings – some good, some bad – and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there’s one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever.
There are some fun touches here in this trailer. First off, it looks fantastic—criticize Elysium all you want, but it’s a beautiful film to look at—and you have to love any movie that includes a glimpse of the He-Man cartoon. With a great cast, including Copley, Patel, Hugh Jackman, and Sigourney Weaver, it’s going to be interesting to see how Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, best known as South African rave-rap duo Die Antwoord, to do in this film. Vi$$er plays a bigger part in this video, and from what we get, that obnoxious baby voice thing she’s going on is going to get real old real fast.
And perhaps most importantly, can we talk about Hugh Jackman’s mullet? Sure, he’s Australian, but damn that thing is fierce.
Chappie opens everywhere on March 6, 2015. Take a look at the trailer and let us know what you think.