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Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" was met by a far more mixed response than his break-through film "District 9," but that doesn't change my enthusiasm for whatever he's working on. This is one of the few people working right now who has a taste for science-fiction and who is able to get original work produced. In the case of his next film, we're talking about "Chappie," which Blomkamp has described as a "comedy," about a robot policeman who is held hostage by a couple of punks.
Sharlto Copley, who is Blomkamp's go-to guy, will be playing the robot police officer, and the two things were cast a while ago, with Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er from Die Antwoord both onboard.
Now they've added another name to the cast, and here's where Blomkamp has a real edge. Actors want to work with him. He's able to put together really eclectic casts, and people want to have that experience. For example, Hugh Jackman's wrapping up "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," and the more he's been talking about it, the more it sounds like he's reached a pretty happy conclusion playing the character. He wouldn't mind taking some time away, playing other things. He's always been pretty adventurous between "X-Men" gigs, and it sounds like he's playing a supporting role here.
With Dev Patel reportedly in the mix to play a guy from the neighborhood who realizes Chappie's gone missing and decides to figure out where he is, and with the film due in theaters in spring of next year, this thing has to be shooting soon. Bleeding Cool, who broke the story, report that Jackman will be playing a CEO who ends up at odds with the people who abduct Chappie.
Bleeding Cool also embedded one of the early motion-capture tests that Neill Blomkamp shot that led him to think about "Cappie" in the first place, and it's a further reminder of what it is that Blomkamp brings to the table as a filmmaker. He has a very natural, effortless sense for how to utilize visual effects and how to mix CG with live-action. It's impressive stuff.
Copley will presumably be the voice of Cappie and perhaps the physical performer as well. We'll see how Blomkamp goes about assembling the performance.
"Chappie" opens March 27, 2014.