Neill Blomkamp is back in the saddle shortly after the critical disappointment of Elysium, which in contrast, was a commercial success with general audiences. His follow up is a science fiction comedy called Chappie, which started principal photography in Johannesburg, South Africa today. Although the new film isn’t due for release until March 2015, Chappie recently added a sci-fi icon to its already impressive, and eccentric, cast of actors.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sigourney Weaver is set to climb aboard the Chappie train. Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital also released the film’s official logline that sheds some new light on the film’s strange premise.
After being kidnapped by two criminals during birth, Chappie (voiced by Copley) becomes the adopted son in a strange and dysfunctional family. Chappie is preternaturally gifted, one of a kind, a prodigy. He also happens to be a robot.
Of course, Weaver is best known for playing the kickass and sexy Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. She also played the character of Dana Barrett (AKA The Gate Keeper or There is no Dana, only Zuul) in the Ghostbusters movies. Although her political satire TV series Political Animals didn’t do so well in the ratings, she will return to reprise her role as Dr. Grace Augustine in James Cameron’s Avatar in the next three Avatar sequels.
Chappie is coming together pretty well. South African Zef counterculture movement and members of rap-rave duo Die Antwoord — Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er — play two gangsters who kidnap a resilient robot for their own nefarious purposes. Blomkamp also re-team with a frequent collaborator in Sharlto Copley. So far, Copley has appeared in all Blomkamp’s films. Hugh Jackman was recently added to the cast. He’ll be a “resourceful” CEO who has a bone to pick with the two gangsters. It was unclear if British actor Dev Patel would also join the cast, but it appears that he is officially on board. Patel plays Chappie’s owner.
Blomkamp describes the film as a “simple story, a comedy, a heartfelt story, in a science fiction setting. And it’s fucking hilarious; it’s a really cool film. I can say that with confidence… It’s a smaller film, a more esoteric one.” He also described the comedy as a cross between RoboCop and E.T., so it appears the film’s emotional center would be a robot and his owner.
Blomkamp co-wrote the script with his writing partner, and wife, Terri Tatchell. She also co-wrote District 9, so maybe the pair can re-capture some of the magic and imagination from that film. Considering that Elysium, which Blomkamp wrote on his own, was a less than stellar outing for the director, it’s good to see the 33-year-old director return to his roots.
Based on a short film, Chappie hits theaters everywhere on March 27, 2015.