"Raise Up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
What You Need To Know:
CHAPPiE has plenty of intense, exciting action, but it also has some very touching, quieter moments promoting moral, redemptive ideas and positive ideals. There’s even some brief, positive Christian, biblical content. However, the robot creator’s rival is a churchgoing Christian. So the movie’s worldview is mixed. CHAPPiE also suffers from lots of strong, gratuitous foul language and too many ideas, resulting in an unclear premise. So, CHAPPiE isn’t as good as it could have been, and extreme caution is warranted.
(PaPa, H, BB, C, Ev, LLL, VVV, S, NN, A, DD, MM) Strong, somewhat mixed, pagan worldview with some pagan, humanist, moral, redemptive elements including a couple undeveloped mentions of evolution mixed with stronger mentions of having a soul and a human consciousness (though consciousness or soul are never explicitly defined and there’s references to being able to move a consciousness somewhere else, such as into a robot’s hard drive), an anti-stealing theme, and criminal behavior is seen as morally bad and destructive, but the bad guy is a churchgoing Christian though a lesser bad guy who starts becoming morally transformed also seems to have some Christian faith when he crosses himself at a poignant moment; about 69 obscenities, 10 strong profanities, six light profanities; some very strong and strong intense violence includes intense gun battles, explosions, people shot point blank, one hero wounded in stomach, man torn apart but camera doesn’t linger or use a gruesome closeup, fighting, men are hit with throwing stars by robot, but robot has been lied to about them, robot mistakenly smashes up car, robot tosses and shoves man around after he realizes man lied to him; no depicted sex but there’s a brief nude poster shown and criminals are shown having a party with women, but nothing explicit shown there; upper female nudity in pinup poster and shots of upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking and small-time drug dealer is shown dividing up his stash of what looks like cocaine; and, jealousy, bullying, stealing, criminals lie to and deceive robot in order to get his help in stealing cars and doing an armored car heist (including stabbing guards with throwing stars), young woman criminal takes child-like robot under her wing and mothers him, pretending to be his “mommy”, but it’s a touching, uplifting part of the movie.
CHAPPiE has some very good scenes in it, including some solidly poignant moments and very exciting moments, but it tries to do too many things and touch on too many issues, so it has multiple premises and a mixed worldview. There’s also lots of strong, gratuitous foul language and some very strong violence, though the camera doesn’t linger on the most gruesome parts, which are very few.
Set in 2020 Johannesburg in South Africa, the movie quickly shows viewers how that city has quelled its vicious crime problem by using robots as police officers. There’s a rivalry, however, at the company that builds the robots for the police. One man, Vince (played by Hugh Jackman), wants the company to build some bigger, more powerful robots controlled by a human pilot. Another man, Deon (played by Dev Patel), who invented the system making the robot police operate, wants to build a robot with artificial intelligence. Their boss nixes both plans. This leaves the two men chagrined but even more determined.
At the same time, some low-life criminals named Ninja and Yo-Landi are being strong-armed by a bigger criminal, who wants $20 million dollars from them. Ninja decides they need to pull a big armored car heist, but they should kidnap Deon to force him to shut off the police robots.
Meanwhile, Deon has perfected his artificial intelligence system and wants to try it out on a damaged robot whose battery has fused with his mechanics. He secretly gathers new limbs for the robot to take him home, but it’s at that moment that Ninja, Yo-Landi and their friend kidnap Deon.
Back at their criminal lair in a ruined warehouse, Deon tells Ninja and Yo-Landi that the system he devised makes it impossible to shut off the robots without a security key, which is heavily guarded. At gunpoint, however, he tells them he can build them a sentient robot to help them pull off the heist. He warns them, however, that the robot will be like a real child, and it will take a little time to train him to do what they want.
Sure enough, after Deon gives the robot life, the robot acts like a scared, innocent child. Yo-Landi’s mother instinct kicks in almost immediately. She names the robot Chappie, but her boyfriend, Ninja, is too impatient. So, after Deon returns the next couple days and teaches Chappie to paint, Ninja starts trying to teach Chappie to be a street criminal. However, because of his interaction with Yo-Landi and Deon, Chappie knows it’s wrong to steal, so Ninja has to invent a bunch of lies to convince Chappie to help him.
Unknown to all of them, however, the other man at Deon’s office, Vince, has been spying on Deon. Vince has decided to do everything he can to foil Deon’s plans. So, when Ninja finally gets Chappie to help him pull off the heist, Vince finds a way to shut off all the police robots and convinces the boss to let him turn on his large military-style robot prototype and kill Chappie and the criminals controlling him. As all chaos breaks out in the city, Vince’s robot shows up at the warehouse at the same time that the criminal trying to extort money out of Ninja and Yo-Landi arrives, demanding to take Chappie. Deon also is there, trying to take back Chappie. A big battle ensues, with everybody’s life on the line. Except for Vince’s, because he’s safely back at the office controlling his robot.
CHAPPiE the movie has plenty of intense, exciting action, but it also has some very touching, quieter moments. One of the best poignant moments are when Yo-Landi tries to teach Chappie about having a soul and what happens when you die. These scenes make Chappie seem as human as the people and also make him a very sympathetic character.
Sadly, the movie also has a lot of strong, gratuitous foul language, including many “f” words and strong profanities. There’s also some very strong violence, including people getting shot point blank, and one criminal being torn apart by the large robot’s pincers. The good news, however, is that the camera doesn’t linger long on these more gruesome, disturbing parts, which are very few.
There’s also a problem in the movie’s narrative structure that results in more worldview problems besides the foul language and intense violence. Director and co-writer Neill Blomkamp (DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM) tries to do too much with his story and touch on too many issues without prioritizing them properly. For example, the issue of raising a child in the way he should go is very prominent in the movie, but so is the issue of human consciousness, having a soul and what happens to your soul and consciousness when you die. Then, there’s the issue of what to do when a society is hit by a rampant crime problem. Can robots help, or are they just a stopgap measure? All these issues come together in the end to a certain extent, but the movie never really resolves them. They also result in an unclear premise that prevents CHAPPiE from being a better movie, or even a great one.
CHAPPiE also suffers from a superficial view of religion. Although it clearly sides with the Christian or biblical view that people have souls that need love, its main villain, Vince, is a churchgoing Christian. This slander is slightly mitigated by Yo-Landi and Deon’s kindness to Chappie and by Ninja’s eventual transformation into a better surrogate father to Chappie. In fact, at one poignant moment during Ninja’s transformation, Ninja performs the sign of the Cross just like Vince does a couple times. Thus, Blomkamp’s new movie seems to validate Christian faith at the same time that it seems to attack organized Christian faith. While it’s true that organization can suck the life and purpose out of the Christian faith (including going to church) and that some (or even many) Christians who go to church don’t act like Christians in the rest of their lives, Christian organization, ritual and churchgoing have a transcendent purpose that is extremely vital and important not only in a Christian’s personal life but also in the life of a society.
It’s at this last point where CHAPPiE perhaps suffers its greatest failure. Although, to its credit, the movie clearly shows that proper guidance from redeemed parents and other redeemed adults is the best way to raise a good child, it never directly connects such guidance to God, Jesus Christ or the Bible, though it may hint at that when a partially transformed Ninja performs the sign of the Cross. However, it also never really connects this to the question in the movie of how does a society solve the problem of criminal behavior. Ultimately, of course, the answer to all sin, including criminal behavior such as stealing, armed robbery, rebellion against the police, and murder, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes not only spiritual and psychological transformation that brings you closer to God through Jesus but also moral transformation that helps you have the moral attitude (or mindset) of Jesus.
As a result of all its problems, CHAPPiE suffers from a mixed pagan worldview that has positive elements mixed with negative, immoral and false elements. All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.