“Chappie” * * * *
After relative newcomer Neill Blomkamp wrote and directed the engaging 2010 sci-fi thriller “District 9,” on a modest $30 million budget, sci-fi fans and Hollywood insiders wondered what was next.
Last week the wait was over as “Chappie” went into wide theatrical release March 6. Like “District 9,” “Chappie” is set in South Africa, but this time in Johannesburg. Fans of Blomkamp’s first release may recognize the voice of the militarized robot Chappie, as coming from “District 9” star Sharlto Copley.
Much of the $49 million budget was probably spent on the star power of Hugh Jackman (“X-Men,” “Wolverine”) and Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”). Sigourney Weaver plays a small but important role as the corporate leader putting profits ahead of humanity. Like the best sci-fi storiesm, “Chappie” has plausibility, and attempts to deal with difficult social, moral, and ultimately very human questions.