Chappie

Chappie and He-Man

There are a few overlaps of scenes from the first Chappie trailer to the latest, including a bit where the title robot watches and mimics the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. You’d think this was from the same studio putting together a new Masters of the Universe movie. Oh right, they’re both Sony. Synergy! Interestingly, Sony is also one of the studios behind last year’s RoboCop remake and they own the company that made Short Circuit (but not the rights to its planned remake), and those are two movies that are very much felt in this new feature from Neill Blomkamp. That’s not a complaint, because this looks much better than both of those things. Sure, the line “I am consciousness. I am alive. I am Chappie!” doesn’t have the same ring as the rhyming “Johnny Five is Alive!” but then Short Circuit doesn’t have Die Antwoord. Nor does it have Hugh Jackman with a mullet playing a South African, which is much better than Fisher Stevens with a mullet playing an Indian. In fact, Chappie has its own real Indian, or at least an Englishman of Indian descent, with the main human hero played by Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel. Rounding out the primary cast is Sigourney Weaver, who reminds me of Jodie Foster in Blomkamp’s last movie, Elysium, Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley as the voice and motion-capture performer for the robot and, yes, Ninja (aka Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yo-Landi Vi$$er (aka Yolandi Visser) of the strange and awesome (see them live if […]

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Burt Reynolds in Heat

When I did one of these posts a year ago, the basic idea was to highlight how many remakes were coming out in 2014. Most were obvious retreads, whether the name was a giveaway (RoboCop) or changed to promise a new angle (Maleficent). This year there are surprisingly few rehashes capitalizing on familiar titles and short memories. Yes, there are reboots of Poltergeist, Point Break and Fantastic Four coming later in the year, but at least for the first six months of 2015 we appear to be getting more continuations than do-overs — or in the cases of Mad Max: Fury Road, maybe a combination — with the mainstream releases. You don’t have to worry too much about your childhood being raped between now and the end of June. Still, I was able to find 15 movies opening in the next half year that are either official remakes or new versions of previously adapted works (look for part two of this feature at the end of June for the second half of the year). Few of them will sound familiar, let alone have a significant fanbase built in through the original or precursor. Some of them — and this is different from last year — are not redoes at all. They might have some other notable relationship to a movie of the past. And in at least one case there is a sequel of sorts, arriving so much later and without any clear titular connection that it’s worth pointing out by recommending the prior part. With each of these […]

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Chappie

The first trailer for Neill Blomkamp‘s Chappie told us what Blomkamp enjoys most in life. Dingy brown landscapes. Socio-political commentary wrapped in a veil of science fiction. Sharlto Copley (this time, heavily autotuned). All were present in District 9 and Elysium, and all seem to play a part in this story of a robo-boy becoming a man. Also, robots! Blomkamp definitely loves robots. Kind of the same robots, every time, actually. Because if you take a thorough look at Chappie, and then the robots of Blomkamp’s other work, you’ll see the same distinguishing details every time. Here’s Chappie:

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Blomkamp and Copley

Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium may have received lukewarm reviews from critics and its box office performance this past weekend wasn’t ideal (even if it did end up on top), but even with a mixed reception, Elysium is proof of one indisputable fact: Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley are a perfect pair. Copley’s performances have been far and away the best aspects of both Elysium and their previous collaboration, District 9. Sony and MRC must feel the same way, because the two studios are joining forces to finance the next Blomkamp/Copley team-up. Titled Chappie, the pic will be a comedy, showcasing a lighter side of science fiction where (presumably) fewer people will be liquified by futuristic explosives. Along with the film’s studio backing, an official synopsis for Chappie has also been released: “Chappie tells the story of a robot imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes.” Copley will voice the titular robot, while Ninja and Yolandi Visser will also star. Two members of the rap-rave group Die Antwoord will be playing the robot-thieving gangsters.

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Tetra-Vaal-robot

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Years from now (let’s say 2154), Neill Blomkamp’s significance in film history books will be that he was discovered through his short films. Specifically by Peter Jackson. And for a while he became a sort of poster boy for the situation where a young talented and economical filmmaker catches Hollywood’s eyes with a remarkable short film showcasing computer-generated special effects that make it look like it cost a million bucks. He will also be known for being part of the related trend of a new filmmaker turning his calling-card-functioning short into a debut feature. And as it turns out, another short of his is set to be adapted for his third feature. And another was a test for what was supposed to be his first (the famous failure of the Halo movie). Following film school and a short time working as an effects artist in Vancouver (he’s credited with animation on such things as 3000 Miles to Graceland and Smallville), the South Africa-born director made four notable shorts, one of which is really a commercial, before he moved into the big pictures courtesy of the mentoring Jackson. A fifth short was what originally came about through that partnership. You can watch all five below followed by links to watch six of his exceptional early ad works.

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published: 01.27.2015
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published: 01.27.2015
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published: 01.27.2015
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published: 01.26.2015
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