Chappie (Blu-ray Review)

ChappieIn the near future, crime is monitored by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.  As powerful and destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.  



Chappie is Neill Blomkamp’s third feature as director. He previously brought us District 9, which I loved, and Elysium, which I did not love. Chappie tells the story of a new automated police force created by a private weapons manufacturer used to pacify the violent streets of Johannesburg, South Africa. Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) is the brilliant developer of this digital police force. When one of the units is damaged beyond repair he sets out to implant the robot unit with his artificial intelligence program.

The installation takes and what was once part of a robot collective is now gifted with independent thought. Granted, the robot acts like a child, because he is essentially version 1.0 and Deon needs to teach him everything about the world. This sets up various clashes from within Deon’s company and the outside “gangster” world. Deon becomes targeted for kidnapping by a gang led by Ninja and Yolandi (music group Die Antwoord). They want “Chappie” for themselves and they want Chappie to rob high value targets, because Ninja and Yolandi have problems of their own.

I mentioned that Deon also had problems from within and he is High Jackman sporting a funky fresh hipster mullet. I remember when I first saw the trailer for Chappie and I didn’t even recognize him. He plays rival defense engineer Vincent Moore who has also created a mech machine of his own nicknamed “The Moose.” It’s a giant ED-209 police unit equipped with tons of bullets and missiles that is controlled via a user and virtual reality. Moore gets shut down again and again by his boss played by Sigourney Weaver and the local police force that want efficiency instead of overkill. Seeing Jackman fume was entertaining, because I could hear the Looney Tunes theme song in my head – he’s a very exaggerated character.

Science and the mean streets collide and Deon has a very short time to teach Chappie, who I should also mention is motion captured and voiced by Sharlto Copley, more than a few tricks if they are all to survive the next few days. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of Chappie but it is not a masterpiece like District 9. Some have even said that that was a fluke and that Neill Blomkamp is done. Elysium had great style but little substance and wasted opportunities. Chappie has bocoup style and only a few underdeveloped characters. I actually enjoyed the performances by Ninja and Yolandi but didn’t care for Hugh Jackman or Sigourney Weaver’s. I think Weaver was even less developed than Jodi Foster was in Elysium. Hugh Jackman, though, was too over top and I’m thinking that his character may have played differently in the original script. There are some confusing scenes that feature some awkward dialogue from his character – as if he was originally written as a religious fundamentalist-type-of-person. In the film he goes on about how Chappie is a “Godless” machine, another scene when he discovers what Deon is doing he says: “What in the Lord…” and in another scene in the office he pulls a gun on Deon and teases that he should go to Sunday mass with him. Yes, on the surface that may be nothing but in full action mode – the lines are awkward as hell.

In any event Chappie was a lot of fun and it serves as a nice middle ground in the Blomkamp science fiction universe. It’s definitely not District 9 but it kicks Elysium’s butt all over the place. The visual effects are remarkable considering that Blomkamp does not work with budgets that are too high (Chappie cost under 50 million to make), so every cent is up on that screen. Rumor has it that he’ll be directing a new Alien film next but we’ll wait and see on that one. Even he has come out to say that he needs to work on story and plotting due to getting carried away with the visual effects on his pictures sometimes. I hope he does develop his story chops, because we already know he’s a great visualist.



Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Chappie looks great. Contrast and sharpness levels don’t look to have been tampered with. Aliasing and compression artifacts are nowhere to be found. The film does use plenty of natural light through out giving it that “real world” lived in feel to it. The Blu-ray captures it beautifully.

Depth: You can literally scrape the video’s demo-worthiness with a spoon.

Black Levels: The Blu-ray is crush-free. Black levels are insanely deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: The film does have a washed-out palette but once we’re at Ninja & Yolandi’s hideout the color palette shines. Not to mention that Ninja has a bright yellow machine gun and Yolandi carries a neon pink Uzi.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks healthy, with some light dirt sprinkled in for flavor.

Noise/Artifacts: The film was mastered in 4K – dirt, debris, etc., are nonexistent.



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 7.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, English & French Audio Descriptive Tracks, Dolby Digital Spanish 5.1, Dolby Digital Thai 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Thai

Dynamics: Chappie on Blu-ray sounds phenomenal. The scenes not involving bullets and high-octane action do carry some weight to them as they are fully centered. Once the action starts, at any given time, then the sound field really opens up and unleashes hell. The industrial/trance score by Hans Zimmer is a treat, too.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE subwoofer channel seems to have been scaled back just a bit. That, or my local ArcLight had the LFE in overkill mode, because it’s not as low as I remember it, which is why it gets the half-star marked off. Still, what we do get in terms of low-end bass is pretty damn good.

Surround Sound Presentation: Duck for cover! Bullets, explosions, car chases, etc., all shine in the rear channel sound field.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are sharp as the devil himself. No complaints here.



Chappie is loaded up quite nicely on the Blu-ray format. We do have some exclusive special feature to the Blu-ray format that seem to be commonplace on new titles from Sony. This Blu-ray has an alternate ending, deleted scene, and an 80-minute documentary on the making of the film from beginning to end, art gallery, a Digital HD copy, and more. I will list them accordingly and point out which are standard and which ones are exclusive to this Blu-ray release. Personally, the alternate ending was just all right but I prefer the theatrical ending. The deleted scene involves extra brutality, which should have been kept. I’d rather not say what the brutality is in reference to due to possible spoilers.

Special Features

  • We are Tetravaal (HD, 5:53) – Here we have a quick look at the cast.
  • Digital HD/Ultraviolet

Blu-ray Exclusives 

  • Alternate Ending (HD, 5:15)
  • Extended Scene: Very Bad Men (HD, 1:30)
  • Chappie: The Streetwise Professor (HD, 9:31) – This one looks at our main character and Copley’s performance.
  • Arms Race: The Weapons and Robots (HD, 6:25) – This one is just what the title implies, weapons and robots!
  • Bringing Chappie to Life: The Visual Effects (HD, 8:01)
  • From Tetra Vaal to Chapeau (HD, 7:30) – A look at the evolution of this movie.
  • Keep it Gangster (HD)
  • The Reality of Robotics (HD, 5:34) – You saw Ex Machina, right?  This one explores the possibility of AI.
  • Jozi: Real City and a Sci-Fi Setting (HD, 15:30) – This one looks at the shooting location of Johannesburg.
  • Rogue Robot: Deconstructing the Stunts and Special Effects (HD, 14:21)
  • The Art of Chappie Gallery (HD)




 Chappie was a very fun and exciting film. As I mentioned before I was not a big fan of Elysium due to the simplicity of the story, lack of depth, and certain characters that added nothing of value to the story. In this film we have less characters that add nothing to the storyline but our central character and its surroundings play out in a much better light. The Blu-ray is topnotch all the way around and I look forward to Neill Blomkamp’s next adventure.







Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

1 Response to “Chappie (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    That fierce pose from Dev Patel on the box art is hilarious.