With 2009’s District 9 and 2013’s Elysium, South African director Neill Blomkamp is making somewhat of a niche out of dystopian future sci-fi flicks that address socio-political issues.
His latest offering, Chappie, is set in the very near future, where an oppressive robotic police force has been rolled out to control crime. After being kidnapped by Ninja and Yolandi Visser, two members of real life South African rap group Die Antwoord, robot developer Deon (Dev Patel) uses his research to give a stolen police unit – affectionately nicknamed Chappie – his own consciousness.
Don’t write Chappie off as merely RoboCop rebooted; it offers a lot more than that. The film is more concerned with Chappie’s evolving sense of self – as one character reminds us, “He’s like a kid, he has to learn” – and raises some interesting questions about free will and the place of technology in society.
One thing – or rather two things – that dilute the strength of Chappie are the rappers. While the scenes in which Ninja attempts to teach Chappie how to be “gangster” are mildly amusing, they still seem unnecessary and jar with the overall premise of the film.
James (Hayden Christensen) is a mechanic who is unwillingly dragged back into a life of crime by his fresh-out-of-prison brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody). With the help of some unsavoury friends, the pair plans a bank heist that will set them both up for life. Brody plays an unconvincing gangster, while Christensen finally redeems himself for a string of poor roles. Nevertheless, it isn’t enough to save American Heist and ultimately, the film turns out to be as generic as its title.
This American-Chinese-Canadian collaboration sees war-weary crusaders Jacob (Hayden Christensen again) and Gallain (Nicolas Cage) travel from the Middle East to China in a journey that is as convoluted and confusing as the film’s production origin. An exiled member of Chinese royalty enlists the help of Jacob, who in turn must talk his one-time brother-in-arms Gallain round to the task of reinstating a young prince to his throne. Outcast is so full of awful clichés you can’t help but wonder what Cage was thinking when he took on this role.
In dealing with her own personal tragedy, the self-medicating divorcee Claire (Jennifer Aniston) becomes obsessed with the suicide of a local girl (Anna Kendrick) from her support group. Aniston was hotly tipped for Oscar recognition for her performance in this comedy-drama, but missed out on a nomination, which many view as a travesty.
Bollywatch: Dirty Politics
This political thriller has already ruffled more than a few feathers in India, causing some to call for a ban on the film’s release, which only serves to makes it all the more intriguing. Director K C Bokadia has pulled together an impressive ensemble cast, including Jackie Shroff, Mallika Sherawat and Om Puri, for this controversial movie.