Okay, let’s ask the big question: what the hell is ‘Chappie’? The first trailer made the film look like a slightly goofy and overly sentimental ‘Short Circuit’ riff, with the title robot learning about the world ... while teaching us (blech). The new trailer feels more like director Neill Blomkamp’s previous work, showcasing wacky science fiction ideas and explosive action. In any case, we’re definitely not sold on the film yet based on either trailer.
While the new trailer still sells the same basic premise (titular experimental learning robot must fight to save itself and its makeshift family of misfits), the focus is placed on Chappie’s nemesis, played by a scowling, goateed, mulleted Hugh Jackman. As a former soldier who hates robots sooo much that he spies on them with binoculars while they paint things that warm the supporting cast’s hearts, Jackman genuinely appears to be playing an inspired comic creation, despite the fact that his character is probably not supposed to be funny.
Other things of note in the new trailer:
- Sigourney Weaver looks to be playing Jackman’s boss and it’s always nice to see her pop up in a science fiction movie.
- Anderson Cooper provides a massive info-dump at the beginning of the trailer, which feels like a far less elegant recreation of the opening act of Blomkamp’s ‘District 9.’
- Jackman’s character’s entire plan looks so much like ‘RoboCop’ that Paul Verhoeven probably made a phone call to his lawyer this morning just to see if he’s owed a check.
- Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley is looking to redeem himself by playing a motion capture robot with a computerized, monotone voice. After the his disastrous performances in ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Oldboy,’ he needs this to work.
Honestly, this trailer isn’t doing much to inspire hope. As great as ‘District 9’ is, ‘Elysium’ was a textbook sophomore slump and Blomkamp really has something to prove with this one. We’ll hope for the best, but so much of ‘Chappie’ looks recycled from his previous efforts. Then again, lowered expectations may help.
Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings – some good, some bad – and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever.
‘Chappie’ opens in theaters on March 6.