Editor’s Notes: Chappie and Run All Night were out on their respective formats June 16th.
Chappie (Sony Home Entertainment) is a hodgepodge of a movie aspiring to be decent science fiction. Director Neil Blomkamp (District 9) tosses so many diverse ingredients into this cinematic stew that the results are a mix of several previous, much better films, particularly Short Circuit, AI: Artificial Intelligence, and RoboCop. The film is set in a futuristic South Africa, where serious experimentation is being conducted with a robotic police force to solve its problems with crime. Deon (Dev Patel, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), the young mastermind behind the program’s initial success, is attempting to affix the robots with a consciousness of their own. He and his robot, named Chappie (voice of Shallot Copley), are kidnapped and a rival programmer (Hugh Jackman) tries to undermine Deon’s work for personal gain.
This R-rated film is uncharacteristically juvenile in its approach, treating Chappie as a humorous, flawed character that kids can laugh and marvel at. But it is also very violent and intense in part, so its target audience is unclear. Avid devotees of science fiction will resent the script’s emphasis of action over actual sci-fi content. Kids will be jarred by the shifts in tone. And those who love robots will be disappointed by the movie’s overall unoriginality. Many interesting ideas are glossed over in favor of tired, unexciting sequences. Jackman is way over the top and turns in a cartoonish performance. Though pleasant, Patel doesn’t have the ability to hold the screen and his wide-eyed portrayal gets tired pretty fast. Vincent D’Onofrio and Sigourney Weaver also star.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include a cast discussion of their characters and experiences on the set; 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes; alternate ending; extended scene; stills gallery; and trailers. There is also an UltraViolet digital copy.
Run All Night
Run All Night (Warner Home Video) stars Liam Neeson as Jimmy Conlon, a man who attempts to protect his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) from mobster Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Both Conlon and Maguire go way back to their days in Brooklyn. Condon, once a hit man for the mob, has turned to booze as a way to blot out unpleasant memories of his past while Maguire aspires to lead a decent middle-class life. Their paths cross when Jimmy kills Shawn’s son in self-defense during a heroin deal gone bad. Shawn vows vengeance.
Liam Neeson has etched out a comfortable niche for himself since Taken as the guy with a mysterious past whose background comes in handy when his family is threatened, he’s forced to suppress personal demons to save others, or new circumstances force him into confrontation. Run All Night falls well within those plot parameters and the movie would be pretty much a “been there, seen that” picture were it not for two fine actors duking it out dramatically. Neeson and Harris deliver the goods, even though they’re not working with the sharpest of scripts. Director Jaume Collet-Serra manages some snappy scenes between these two veterans, but is less successful staging action sequences, which have a routine look and fail to elicit a lot of excitement or tension.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include a making-of featurette, profile of Liam Neeson, and deleted scenes. There is also a digital HD copy.