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 you ever get the chance) Cape Town-based music group Die Antwoord. And they’re playing themselves!
While the first trailer skewed cuter, more Short Circuit-like, the new one is a lot more action-oriented and seems much more on the RoboCop side. Basically the robot drones from the remake are akin to the policing bots here, and then comes along a new robot that can think and has feelings – not unlike the cyborg Alex Murphy – apparently built to have a conscience and morals and not just be a cold killing machine. Also there’s another kind of machine that’s bigger and deadlier and looks enough like RoboCop’s ED-209 to almost call it a ripoff. Will Chappie be better than last year’s forgettable redo? Is Blomkamp a more trusted foreign filmmaker than Jose Padilha, even after Elysium? I’m not sure, but it’s still one of my (and ours, as a site) most anticipated of the year, in part because I like Blomkamp’s past shorts featuring similar-looking rabbit-eared robots.
Watch the new trailer below and join us in finding out if the whole thing is as good as it looks when it opens on March 6, 2015.