By: Lola Kemper/
People who personally know me are aware of my almost insane fixation for the District 9 universe (which includes Die Antwoord); this is why i feel like i know enough about this matter to write an appropiate Chappie review. You need to be a real fan to truly appreciate what this movie has to offer, so far the critics have trashed it, they’ve even said Neill Blomkamp is not a good film maker and District 9 was a fluke…well, I mock those critics, their words make me laugh. I don’t know what people expect from this young southafrican director; to me his three films have been really good and purpuseful. Maybe these people are dissapointed because Chappie is not Transformers, and Elysium is not Oblivion, in which case well, sorry.
I’m a big fan of Neill’s work, he’s good at treating very deep subjects disguising them as science fiction, District 9 is not just an alien/robot film, it’s about segregation. Elysium is not just Matt Damon as a heroe, it’s a movie about migration. That’s Blomkamp, that’s what he does. People should stop seeing him as an Academy Award nominee and start realizing he’s a young talent with a whole bunch of ideas he wants to develop. He is not obligated to make another District 9, he can do whatever he wants. Let him have a little fun, let him try to make us laugh, let him do Chappie.
Ok, now let’s talk about Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er.
They’re two southafrican artists with a very particular mission and vision. They’ve been in the music business for a long time now. Waddy Jones (Ninja) has been involved in conceptual projects like The Constructus Corporation and Max Normal, he’s tried different identities and experimented with all kinds of music and art; he’s more like a public speaker and his goal is to transfer his self-improving mindchanging ideas to the listener, he wants his fans to believe they can do whatever they set their minds to. He became Ninja in 2008, a rap superhero. To create and become this new character, Ninja went back to his roots and influences that include, 90s technopop, Cypress Hill and african music. The result is very unique, once you listen to a Die Antwoord record, something changes in your life.
They also came up with a whole new style of clothing, hair, tatoos and slang.
Their videos are known for being original, funny and visually shocking. They’ve collaborated with Harmony Korine for the short film Umshini Wam, and also with mexican cinematographer Alexis Zabe. In 2012 they teamed up with the american photographer Roger Ballen and created I Fink U Freeky. The video has been acclaimed by cinematographers around the world and the song became one of the biggest hits of the year.
The first time I saw Die Antwoord’s Evil Boy video i noticed the prosthetic alien arm Ninja was wearing, it was clearly the Wikus Van De Merwe arm from District 9. This had me looking for more District 9- Die Antwoord references, so I saw the movie again. I found out that the MNU logo was the same as Die Antwoord’s, and that a doctor in the movie is named Dr. Visser. Not to mention the word PRAWN.
In the Baby’s On Fire video there’s an autographed framed picture of Neill Blomkamp that says “Yolandi, always believe in your dreams”, if you want to see it just forward the video to when Yolandi raps “Neill Blomkamp’s making me a movie star”.
I became more and more obsessed about this shit. This Blomkamp-Antwoord combo had me hooked. I knew there had to be something cooking. Then Ninja posted about Chappie.
I don’t think I’d ever experienced multiple nerdgasms, but I did when I saw Chappie. The feeling it gave me reminded me of the movies I used to love as a child. In the 80’s, there where a bunch of robot and “little critter” movies (like Gremlins). No one would question a little cute robot, or alien. People just loved that stuff, and I did too. Family scifi/comedy fiilms with a valuable lesson to teach; you wouldn’t call it cliché or predictable, it was just a fun movie you enjoyed. Life wasn’t so fucking complicated, man.
I find that people these days see a robot in a movie poster and automatically assume they’re gonna go see a very serious film with huge explosions and a famous actor as a heroe. Sorry people, that’s not always the case. Sci-fi doesn’t always have to be so intense. Sci-fi comedy exists, and this is Blomkamp’s. The first thing you need to do is let go of your prejudice and not try to over-analyze it, the director is NOT trying to make Chappie compete with District 9, this film is much more relaxed and simple. Be open to Neill’s world, a world he created based on Die Antwoord. Let go and enjoy the vintage cellphones, the yellow guns and the pimped rides. Try to have fun man, like you did when you were a child and watched “Short Circuit”.
You’ve never seen a robot like Chappie, he’s very human and loveable. His structure is retro and original it has these puppy ears that make him very expressive, Neill creates a robot like the ones he imagined when he was a child; you can see its cables, it’s not perfect, it makes little cute CPU noises like the ones our old Windows 95 used to make. Chappie is played by Sharlto Copley (Wikus-District 9). It’s like an improved gangsta C3PO.
The production design/art department did an awesome job creating a very zef environment, you can see the Ninja-Ballen drawings all over the place, along with lyrics and cool references to the band, everything is super colorful and neon. It’s like Planet Die Antwoord exists and you’re in it.
The score was composed by Hans Zimmer and sounds so good. He was influenced by Die Antwoord and added some techno to the more intense parts of his compositions. There are also lots of Die Antwoord tracks you can hear in the background.
The action scenes are violent and exciting, and the SFX are impeccable (Neill is an expert, he knows his shit).
Chappie rules. It has very important messages about humanity and consciousness. It’s fun, it’s different and it has lots of style which separates it from the generic average robot action flick. Chappie is about being true to yourself, fighting for what you want, being proud of your feelings and learning to forgive. That’s what gangsta is, that’s what being zef means.
*enter the ninja starts playing*
About me: I’m a mexican writer, film-maker, Die Antwoord fan.