Chappie review

Short Circuit gets a gangsta makeover in Neill Blomkamp's latest big-budget sci-fi

Short Circuit crashes headlong into RoboCop in Neill (District 9) Blomkamp's latest sci-fi thriller. In a near future version of Johannesburg where state-of-the-art robots are used to police the streets, rogue police 'bot Chappie is given true artificial intelligence by his creator (Dev Patel), only to end up being raised on the streets by a group of gangsters.

Given a pretty rough ride by critics when it hit cinemas, Chappie may not be particularly original and once again finds Blomkamp falling some way short of the promise he showed in his debut feature. However, judged on its own terms it is a lively and entertaining piece of sci-fi sprinkled liberally with colourful characters (especially the Sharlto Copely-voiced-and-mo-capped title character), high-concept themes and thrilling action set-pieces.

Picture: The latest in Sony's line of 'Mastered in 4K' Blu-rays, Chappie presents viewers with a stunning 2.40:1-framed AVC Full HD encode.

Visually, the film itself follows the same aesthetic approach we've seen across Blomkamp's films; filling the screen with intricate textures and a slightly muted palette with golden accents and occasional hits of deep colour saturation. Blacks are deep and inky, revealing plenty of shadow detail, while contrast pushes whites fairly hot without sacrificing fine textures. Simply excellent.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The film's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix certainly delivers the goods with its excellent dynamic range and expansive soundfield. Surround speakers are constantly engaged for discrete ambient effects and to kick things up a gear or two during the bullet-riddled final showdown between Chappie and the MOOSE (Chapter 14). Meanwhile, the subwoofer provides plenty of support thanks to the throbbing, potent bass present throughout.

The lossless presentation also works wonders with Hans Zimmer's pulsating score; a feast of electronica that veers from Blade Runner-era Vangelis to 1980s retro videogames.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Chappie's supplementary features kick off with an alternate ending (five minutes) and an extended scene (two minutes).

Next up comes the real meat of the package, a collection of nine featurettes – From Tetra Vaal to Chappie; Jozi: Real City and a Sci-Fi Setting; Chappie: The Streetwise Professor; We Are Tetravaal; Keep it Gangster; Rogue Robot: Deconstructing the Stunts and Special Effects; Arms Race: The Weapons and Robots; Bringing Chappie to Life: The Visual Effects; and The Reality of Robotics. Running a little over 79 minutes in total they explore various aspects of the film, from its origins as Blomkamp's 2004 short Tetra Vaal to the astonishing visual effects used to bring the title character to life.

The Art of Chappie is an extensive collection of production art split into seven categories – Chappie; MOOSE; Yobot; Production Design; Storyboards; Director's Sketches; and Poster Art.

An additional hi-def platter (sans menus) is used to house an additional 27-minute scene deconstruction featurette, which feels a little wasteful if you ask us.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: Stunning picture and sound plus a great set of extras make this sci-fi flick well worth a look

Chappie, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £25 Approx