SFcrowsnest

Chappie: The Art Of The Movie by Neill Blomkamp and Peter E. Aperlo (book review).

As I’m still getting acquainted with Chappie, the robot star of this self-named film, I thought what better way than reading the book and seeing the art that is used to compose it. ‘Although called ‘Chappie: The Art Of The Movie’, it also gives insight into the characters as well as the high tech and how the townships of South Africa were turned into this particular backdrop. Apart from him being born there, I can understand director Neill Blomkamp’s choice because if you want a radicalised dangerous place, then it makes more sense than a lot of the over-used American scenarios that have been used in films and gives a fresh outlook. Mind you, he’s done it in ‘District 9’ and ‘Elysium’ as well, I do wonder if Blomkamp needs to show he can film elsewhere just once to show his range. With three SF films in a row now, he’s clearly embedded in our genre.

I couldn’t help but feel that there was certain similarities to a certain ‘Robocop’ but the same would apply to using any mechanised cop based film but this time is a totally robot police-cop and there are a lot of them. Scout 22 or Chappie, as he is later known, is taken from his original role of robot cop and brought up by members of a street gang when reprogrammed and adapts its behaviour accordingly, especially after its other more physical repaired. I’m sure or at least hope the film will explain how they street people got their know-how to reprogram a robot.

I’m amazed how quickly Blomkamp put ‘Chappie’ together so soon after ‘Elysium’ but you rarely see the behind the scenes development end but I’m sure there must have been some overlap.

Looking at the Moose robot, I couldn’t help but wonder at the resemblance to the Japanese Macross Glaug model kit from the 1980s although I suspect they weren’t around back then. Gods, how to feel old. I doubt if it was intentional as there are a limited number of ways you can design a robot loaded for…er…bear. One could easily cite the ED-209 as being similar as well.

As ever with books of this nature, I love seeing how films are constructed and the design stage is most important of all. Unless you freeze-frame while watching, your brain will absorb the imagery and only register if something feels wrong rather than what is right about the scenes. Here, you get the best of both worlds.

Although there isn’t a blow-by-blow of the plot here, it isn’t difficult to work out what is going on. A sort of reverse Frankenstein plot although how much of it is truly SF rather than applied tech will have to wait until I see it. Visually, though, its grunge at its best although I doubt if many will want to volunteer to live there.

GF Willmetts

March 2015

(pub: Titan Books. 159 page horizontal hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $34.95 (US), $39.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78329-520-3)

check out website: www.titanbooks.com