CHAPPiE, is a Science Fiction plus Salman Khan type of movie. And the movie comes with well designed and expressive Robot. In fact, the Robot is the best actor. Contrastingly, Robots in movies like Star Wars are bland, expressionless and only thing they do is shoot. CHAPPiE as ROBOT is LiVELY.
Dev Patel is a good cop and made a good Robot which sells. Hugh Jackman is a bad cop and made a bad Robot which does not sell. So Hugh Jackman sabotages Dev Patel’s Robot. But by the time Jackman is able to do so, Patel makes an new improved version; A Robot with a Consciousness. Patel has also developed “Neural Network” Helmet, through which any person’s Full Consciousness can be downloaded to a Hard Drive and later, transferred to any Robot, which then become like ‘that person.’
The movie is not so heavy with Sci-Fi stuff. After few preliminary High-Tech talks, the story moves into real life with real people and with a ‘conscious’ Good Robot who escapes to learn the ways of the world. This gives an opportunity to bad cop Jackman to energise his unsold Bad Robot. The Bad Robot mortally wounds the human team of Good Robot. After killing the bad Robot, the Good Robot then downloads the ‘consciousness data’ of his ‘dying’ friends and transfers it to another Robots. And they live happily ever after.
The screenplay moves fast. The cinematography is very good. The special effects are excellent.
The only thing bad is; English Subtitles are intermittent. When the Robot speaks there are no subtitles. The movie setting is Johannesburg, and subtitles appear only when the characters speak Afrikaans. But one can adjust to this, for once.
Certainly not award-worthy, still, the movie is not all that bad. The story is good, workable, has multiple tracks but simple to follow. But the pace of the movie is slower than a stroll. A barely 40 minute story is stretched to 01 Hour 40 Minutes. It’s is a 2007 movie with 1987 type of color and feel.
And acting is like school theatre-ish. Even the Great Naseeruddin Shah is a pain. Thankfully he died midway. He may have heaved a sigh of relief when told his part of shooting is over. Roshan Seth of “Nehru” fame and Seema Biswas of “Bandit Queen” fame are like caricatures in some incomplete cartoon. But they tried their best. Except one, no characters in the movie show any enthusiasm.
There is only one, actress Tanisha Chatterjee, who showed good acting and enthusiasm. A google search on her name brings a 40 year old “Tannishtha Chatterjee.” ‘Amal’ is 2007 movie and “Tanisha Chatterjee” may have been 10 years then, roughly. She may be 23 years approx now and is nowhere to be seen on screen. But wherever she may be, she has my special mention.
Rupinder Nagra as hero is no great shakes but he is pretty likable. Given by the standards of the movie, he is a star, although a dim one, who can carry a concerned audience through a slow lackadaisical movie just to see him through.
The movie starts in the slums of Pakistan where a drone missile kills a few and then the movie moves into pristine United States where the aftermath is dealt with. This movie, Drone, seems like a sequel to the movie, Eye in the Sky. Where ‘Eye in the Sky’ ends with a Drone Kill, ‘Drone’ starts with a Drone Kill.
‘Drone‘ has very poor ratings. A 5.4 on IMDb and paltry 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. But a closure look on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes show that people liked and disliked the movie for several reasons, some of which, I too, agree.
For one, the movie is ‘pretty’ well made. Besides a few Missile Explosions, the major duration of the story is calm. There is dysfunctional family on one side and a desperado on the other and through several series of events there is a meeting of two side and two cultures but with multiple individual motivations.
Every character in the movie is accomplished. But only individually. An incident in a children’s playground is aptly filmed. The dinner table conversation is handled very well and one can see, feel and hear, the forced conversation and false attentions. This meeting then builds up into a climax where ‘more than two actors have to interact on-screen’ and it’s here the performances falter and becomes theatrical.
The director did not reach for the full potential as was possible. The movie has an alien culture in an american home with ambiguous motivation. The director could have displayed more of this dichotomy. This contrast of two cultures had some deep stories to tell. Instead the movie skims. It just settled with ‘one slurp’ of coffee.
Just imagine, the director has a “Pakistani” in an American home and the character is shown eating with forks. The movie had started with Pakistanis eating with their hands, so, why not continue with the same theme? Make the Pakistani eat with his hands, slurp tea from a plate than a cup and “don’t give him wine.” The culture differences could have been displayed on the table, while eating, drinking, not using napkins, and these would have added to the scene depth without impacting the duration of the movie; the character is anyways eating and drinking on an American table, so make him do all those things like a Pakistani. And to add to the eeriness, why not make the Pakistani do Namaz inside the American’s house.
The story could have ended well too. In the end the Pakistani is stabbed. This is lazy storytelling. Why not make him live? To atone for the American’s sins of killing the Pakistani’s family, the American should have taken the Pakistani’s side for once, made him aware of the dangers outside the house, played a game of camaraderie and sent away the Pakistani with the boat. But for this, some changes to the script has to be done, like; ‘The Pakistani is an unknown ordinary person working in IT in US who, due to data leak, chances upon an address of a Drone Contractor who may have killed his family.’
There has been several movies where the story is enacted in one house or one room. Alien/s in an enclosed space gives a feeling of being cornered and is a brilliant setting for a nail biter; someone enters the house and gradually unravels the motivations and each passing moment builds up to a climax. Needless to say, this requires expert handling by the Director. A good Director can change screenplays without impacting the story. A good case is the movie, “Erin Brockovich” (2000). If you care, watch the movie and read the script. It’s an eye opener on what good Directing is all about.
Few movies of this genre which I know are; Yash Chopra’s Ittefaq (1969), Audrey Hepburn starrer ‘Wait Until Dark‘ (1967), Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Kaun?‘ (1999), Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisla‘ (1986). Having watched these movies, when I approach “Drone”, I see a lost potential. But it’s good to encounter such movies now and then, as, just like life, troughs and crests in movie watching makes one appreciate the values and qualities of the good.
Billionaire Ben Kingsley uses his money power to jump from his dying body to another young army trained body and then swallows pills to wash off the memory of the new body so that he can live with his old self happily ever after.
Self/less, is a movie where the story idea fails to exploit the core concept, which has lots of potential. Instead, the story wastes itself in an erratic screenplay. It seems that, the moment Ben Kingsley becomes Ryan Reynolds, the writers ran out of ideas. And they spent the next 100 minutes trying to make something up.
Three things are noteworthy in the movie – Action, Sound and Cinematography. Whoever in charge of these three functions did an excellent job. But whoever in charge to execute the screenplay did not give any thought to what he was doing.
Spielberg is noted for presenting historical events as a human story. In ‘The Post’, the human side is the owner of the Washington Post, a novice widow. And she is presented with circumstances where she needs to take a call.
United States entered Vietnam for war in 1955 and a decade of bombings didn’t get them a win. So they set a committee to find the reason why. The findings were; “United States cannot win this war.” Despite knowing this, successive Presidents kept winning elections pledging to “end the war” but when in Office, kept pumping in more troops into Vietnam who died in large numbers.
In 1971, an “insider”, a “Snowden”, got hold of “The Pentagon Papers“, made xeroxes and sent it to all who dared to publish it. The first to do was The New York Times. This alerted the government of the leak and they came down heavily with “gag orders.”