Chappie Explores What It Is To Be Human

Neill Blomkamp, who previously directed District 9 and Elysium, is bringing his newest project to [...]


Neill Blomkamp, who previously directed District 9 and Elysium, is bringing his newest project to life this Friday as Chappie marches into theaters. Chappie is much more than you can tell from the trailers or previews you have watched on television. It is much more than a talking robot or gangsters firing off gun shots. Chappie dives deeply into the question of what it is to be human.

While the film's plot is about a scrapped robot brought to intelligent life by young genius, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), it is also about questioning whether it's flesh and blood that makes us human or something more than that. When Chappie is given consciousness, he has to grow and be raised the same way a human child would. Granted, there are differences, a robot doesn't cry or defecate on itself, but the film explores the growth intellectually.

Chappie is, "A blank slate robot that is probably going to be more human than the humans around them," according to Blomkamp. He's just like a child when he is first given the ability to think for himself. Children are innocent. They are kind. They are prime for molding by their parents and the world around them, which is the exact case with Chappie. "Like all of us, he matures in some areas and doesn't in others," Terri Tatchell, the writer of the film said in an exclusive interview.

I had the opportunity to ask Tatchell if she felt brave creating a story dealing with the creation and meaning of consciousness, but she says, "It was always a question of the story," which Chappie was not afraid to tell in the least bit. Contrary to fellow sci-fi films like Prometheus and Lucy which delve in to existential questions of humanity and leave them completely open ended after simply hinting at answers, Chappie provides a conclusion to it's biggest endeavor. 

Being human is not only having a pulse and being made up of tissues and blood and organs. Being human is a duty we owe the world and everyone around us. Being human is an opportunity that comes with consciousness. Chappie directly addresses what it is to be human when given consciousness, especially when it introduces Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman). Moore is the plot's main antagonist who happens to be feeling pretty irrevelevant when we meet him. He is against sentient robotic life because of the threat they present to humanity, but the man completely lacks any humanity himself. The being he plans to take down, Chappie, wants nothing more than to live, learn, and gather experiences like any other self-aware, intelligent being. 

Jackman's character is the most ruthless in the film and shows exactly what the world can do to corrupt or ruin people. Jackman describes him as, "One of those guys who thinks he's the coolest. He thinks that everyone at the office likes him, he thinks that he's got it all together," when in fact, "no one really likes him." The most pro-human, anti-robot character in the film is in fact, less human than any one else we've been watching.

While we may never understand consciousness or why we, as humans, have been given the ability to think, act, and speak for ourselves, Chappie explores the possibilities that come with our gift. "It's a lifetime in a film and a very short lifespan for him," Tatchell explained. It's a lifetime in which Chappie teaches us, in case we forgot, what it is to be human.