Artificial Intelligence is not what it used to be

Torn between rival gangs and his creator, the robot “CHAPPiE” struggles to realize his purpose and navigate 2016 Johannesburg, South Africa.

However, despite a promising premise, “CHAPPiE” as a film is less successful than it’s titular robot in demonstrating meaningful character underneath a clunky, uncoordinated exterior.

Gaping plotholes and illogical motivations leave the viewer skeptical and unengaged. The end result is that the viewer is never really drawn into the story and struggles to move past unresolved plot points.

In many ways the film feels like different versions of the same story were cut and pasted together. Even the presence of big names like Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver fail to prop up a shaky narrative.

However, the movie’s focus on modern moral issues like the role of armed machines in combat and the frightening potential of artificial intelligence manages to provoke some serious thought.

True to its science fiction form, “CHAPPiE” intertwines a human drama with complex technology and futuristic scenarios to ask questions about the relationship between morality and progress in a rapidly changing world.

Philosophical questions on life, death and ethics are explicitly and implicitly asked, but the viewer can only ponder these issues if they can look past the lackluster storyline.

A more watertight narrative would have given the viewer more opportunity to reflect on these questions if they weren’t so busy trying to rationalize the motivations of the characters.

The film’s computer generated imagery is not particularly ground-breaking but is effective in that the viewer is not overwhelmed by special effects.

Fortunately, Hans Zimmer delivers a typically well-done music that helps compensate for an awkward narrative scattered with moral inquiry.