I finally, finally saw this movie!

I’m not a film studies student, but I do think that Neil Blomkamp’s movie offers some interesting and provocative imagery.  Blomkamp spoke about the powerful use of imagery in a Rolling Stone interview and even eluded to sequels.

Chappie has been criticized for its lack of black actors since the movie was set and filmed in Johannesburg.  Blomkamp has spoken about how Johannesburg  is a great place to set a sic-fi film because he could just shoot in the city.  The Vodacom building, which is prominent throughout the movie is a perfect example.  Checkout this short documentary on Ponte City Tower (aka Vodocom Building).

I’ll toss my $0.02 in on the movie to talk briefly about Chappie, the character.  More specifically, my feelings about Chappie.  While Blomkamp pushes back against the idea of using movies like his push a political agenda, I think that movies have the opportunity to make audiences feel.  Yes, I cried while watching Chappie.  It was a lot to take when he was dropped off by “Daddy” to get toughened up and was viscously attacked.  I’ve read articles regarding movies being prescribed by therapists and it seems like an idea that could be extended to the bigger idea of “deotherizing” immigrants (an undergrad at Tufts University explored this idea in their undergraduate thesis here).  I had a visceral response when Cappie was hit with a molotov cocktail. I’ve been working on a paper about xenophobia and the xenophobic riots of 2008 and 2015 and the imagery is remarkably similar.

I look forward to the next Blomkamp movie and I already plan on watching Chappie again.


Directed and co-written by Neill BlomKamp (District 9, 2009) Chappie is set in The Republic of South Africa in the near future, more specifically in Johannesburg. Faced with ever growing rates of lawlessness and violence the South African police purchase a series of android robots from a local company headed by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver, aliens 1986), these robots are fully mobile AI’s with human interfaces to help control them. Initial trials and usage are going well. Crime rates in the city fall and criminals are genuinely fearful of them.

The opening sequences tell you straight away that you are in a BlomKamp movie with the by-now familiar camera styles. With his opening shots we see how law and order is being restored. In the middle of this we meet drone 22 (who will become known as Chappie), who is severely damaged in deployment and sent to the scrap heap…

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