The world was impressed with District 9 – Neil Blomkamp’s feature-length directorial debut. His follow-up film, Elysium, was not as impressive. One of the common denominators in those two movies is Sharlto Copley – an actor who began his career in a Blomkamp short film (Alive in Joburg), and will continue it in Blomkamp’s next film as writer-director, Chappie.
Co-written with fellow District 9 scribe, Terri Tatchell, the sci-fi film is based on another Blomkamp short – Tetra Vaal – and features Yolandi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Brandon Auret and Ninja among its supporting cast. Chappie is a robot, stolen by two local criminals who plan to use his artificial intelligence capabilities for their own questionable purposes. So far, so gripping – but it is the methods employed by Blomkamp for this film that has got Sharlto Copley talking to Coming Soon. Copley will not simply voice the character – he is being animated:
“I think we’re finding our stride with this third film – sort of going back to a smaller style of filmmaking. I’m doing the lead again…I’m playing a light character – a childlike robot, which is great. He only gets to about 9 years in his emotional development. I got to run around in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, being a child. It was awesome.
“The part that’s blowing my mind is that they’re animating over my movements. So they’re using absolutely everything I do in a sort of poor man’s motion-capture style. I was never sure how this would translate, but the amount of me that is in the character is incredible…It’s quite an amazing experience, because you’ve created something totally different now. All you’ve had to focus on as the actor is the behaviour. The essence of this being not at all concerned about their appearance, which you would normally be concerned about as an actor.
I can see in a little sequence is there’s half a second that there’s a stunt guy [instead of me]. I can tell that it’s the stunt guy from the animation. I can tell that it’s the stunt guy there, because he moves slightly different than me. Because the performance is movement-based. The audience won’t see it, but I see it.”
Let’s hope the audience don’t see the difference because, objectively speaking, this all sounds very cool. Unfortunately, we are coming to this project from a place where Elysium happened – which was also something the audience shouldn’t have seen. Apart from its bloated and messy nature, the film was simply musings on the same old Blomkamp themes – even down to the ominous vessel in the sky.
In Chappie, we have a chance for Blomkamp – with the help of his regular collaborator Copley – to redeem himself and make us forget his Elysium mishap. Provided that – in this latest plot – the questionable purposes of the local criminals do not involve class warfare, or communicating with a mysterious spaceship hovering overhead, we could be in for some refreshing cinema. We will find out on March 6th, 2015.
Source: Screen Rant