A brand new robot film is coming to theaters next March. Directed by Neill Blomkamp of “District 9” fame and with a star-studded cast of Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), and Sigourney Weaver, Chappie joins the regiment of sentient-robot films all the way from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
From the recently released first trailer, the film seems to invite discussions from its seemingly uplifting yet somehow ambiguous portrait of human/robot interaction in the near future. As a young scientist and creator in the film, Dev Patel plays the chief mentor role to the robot protagonist, Chappie, while a gruff-looking, gun-toting Hugh Jackman seems to serve as the main antagonist with his “elimination and termination” rhetoric concerning all the “unpredictable” A.I.s.
However, as we later hear from the ever-optimistic scientist that his self-aware robot could just be “the next step in evolution” without any reservations, somehow we are inclined to disagree that the transition should be as smooth as he imagines.
Distinctly different from the lonely android boy who looks and thinks just like a normal human child in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Blomkamp’s Chappie is much more rebellious and eager to show the world its own will—we can glimpse from the scenes in which it gleefully jumps over car tops and learns to swagger in exaggerated macho posture—all the while encased in a metal body too easily distinguished and thus unavoidably alienated it from the human beings with whom it tries to form emotional connections.
In a significant scene, wherein the young woman who is part of Chappie’s original “family" says to it: “You know what’s a ‘black sheep’? It’s like being different from everyone else.” After we hear from the robot’s firm exclamation near the end of trailer, “I have consciousness, I am alive,” it will be interesting to see whether and how the scale will tip over on Chappie’s journey to self-discovery.
Chappie is estimated to come to theaters around the world in March, 2015.