Because Neill Blomkamp’s first feature, District 9, was a runaway Best Picture-nominated success, it was inevitable that his second film, the message-heavy sci-fi actioner Elysium, would see countless comparisons. That will almost definitely not be the case for his next film, the sci-fi comedy Chappie, which Blomkamp began pre-production on back in February. And thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we now know a little bit more about the film, and that it will begin filming this fall.
Chappie will once again reteam the director with star Sharlto Copley, who will voice Chappie, an artificially intelligent robotic member of the Johannesburg police force. Chappie falls into the hands of two local gangsters, played by Ninja and Yolandi Visser of the South African rap-rave duo Die Antwoord, who want to use the robot for their own unlawful reasons. Considering this is a comedy, I expect these gangsters to be of the bumbling, contentious variety who end up defeating themselves before anyone else is able to.
The film will be based on Blomkamp’s 2004 short film Tetra Vaal, with a script co-written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell. If you haven’t seen the short, check it out below.
While it wasn’t clear before whether Copley would actually be playing a physical robot or if he would be using some form of motion capture, the reveal that he’ll be “voicing” the character probably means Chappie will be an all-CGI bot. Kind of disappointing, but considering how much character work he got out of the alien species in District 9, a robot should be a cake walk.
Last month, it was revealed that Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel was in talks to join the film as an inner city youth, and according to THR those negotiations are on-going..
While it may sound strange to some that Blomkamp will be using a musical group as his co-starring bad guys, it’s even stranger that Ninja was one of the original choices for Matt Damon’s role in Elysium (The other was Eminem). You can check out a slice of Ninja’s talents as performer and director in some of Die Antwoord’s videos, one of which you can watch below.
While I can’t deny my pre-release excitement for Elysium, I wish Blomkamp had gone with the smaller-scale Chappie for his sophomore effort before going all big budget on everybody. Here’s hoping he keeps the jokes heavy and the morals light on this one, and that the post-production effort isn’t so lengthy that we’re waiting years to catch this in theaters.