The movie where a South African rap/rave group plays themselves, wears their own merchandise, and kidnap a robot. There’s more: Short Circuit lifted in full, elements of RoboCop, police militarization allegories, artificial intelligence warnings, a debate over consciousness. But, it’s mixed into a contemptible mess of a movie fixated on product placements and irredeemable violence.
For a director fixated on his Johannesburg homeland, Neil Blomkamp does not do much to make it attractive. Although most of Chappie is glistening with fidelity, aerial views of the city are decrepit. Various levels of edge enhancement, filtering, and more are inserted for reasons unknown.
They’re short moments – only a handful in a two hour movie – yet contrast greatly to what Chappie is doing elsewhere. Eyesores, all of them. A few shots expose the digital leanings, namely an infrequent close-up (or two). Most are generously defined though, especially Chappie. Every ounce of metal feels enriched by this presentation. He is such a standout, it’s an obvious special effect in comparison to everything else – because he’s better.
Chappie is a visual movie. No matter the quality of the content, it’s a dominating film, image by image. Contrast basks in full natural sunlight, blown out if not too much as to wipe fidelity. Colors are sublime. Die Antwoord’s lair is full of zest for yellows, pinks, and blues. It’s gorgeous when on full display. Chappie is thick on brightness on all sides.
By design, there are moments of SD video, some HD cable footage too of CNN. Those are a bit of a video slowdown, with intent of course, so they are excused. The majority stays in the light, and those nighttime scenes process exquisite shadows to boot. Depth is always a driving visual force no matter the circumstances. From the beginning, Chappie screams reference but does drop a notch or two as the digital source becomes evident. A splotchy face there, a touch of noise here; it’s enough to knock it down a touch. For most, anyone outside of the die-hards, this could be a showcase.
Robust, full, and rich, DTS-HD 7.1 work on Chappie is a luxury. Placement is pinpoint. Gunfire, cars, missiles; they pass across the width of the soundfield with spectacular frequency. It’s busy, but never to a point where imaging becomes muddled. There is sonic beauty everywhere. Chappie’s training scenes, such as when he begins tossing throwing stars, shows how subtle this can be. Glass crashes in the front, remnants scatter in the rears, with the star landing behind the camera. This precision moment is replicated across any action.
There is a ton of Chappie to digest. An opening attack scene has all the firepower required. Another 100 or so minutes remain. Busy offices, workshops, and echo-y underground facilities add a voice to segue between bombastic missile attacks. Rioters smash windows and flood the streets. Each channel will respond.
Stereos and those added rear channels receive a full workout. Chappie is a mix which would legitimately miss those bonus surrounds. They’re given plenty of work.
A (better) alternate ending and extended scene join a gallery (plus some trailers) for the weaker bonus items. The selection of nine featurettes is where Chappie’s home video heart lies. Playing all, the list makes for 80-minutes of content. While not produced like a single feature, each segment plays nice with the rest. All of the visual effects material is fascinating. It is also interesting to hear Blomkamp’s initial epiphany for the film in detail.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.