‘Chappie” could almost be described as “Three Thugs and a Baby Bot.” Though the story raises Isaac Asimov-like issues of good vs. evil in the context of robot technology and its human creators, philosophy takes a back seat as family sentiments sashay to center stage. The titular character is a robot and, having been “born” into the world with a conscious mind, Chappie wants to be loved, understood and driven around in an SUV while head-splitting rap booms out over the speakers. So far, pretty adorable, I guess.
But not for long. “Chappie” is heavily political, with a low, persistent hum of colonialist undertones despite it being set in the very near future of 2016. If left to his own, ah, devices, Chappie could have become a happy kid, albeit one made of titanium and programmed with artificial intelligence. However, the adults (read: white people with guns) step in and teach Chappie to “be strong and tough,” use weapons and kill the supposed enemy in the name of protecting his “own people.”