I saw the movie Chappie this weekend. It was a bad movie that managed to entertain me despite its badness. Throughout most of the movie I would have deemed it quite fun indeed, but unfortunately the ending really fell to bits.
Chappie is about a robot called Chappie in the near future who acquires self awareness and begins to rapidly learn, growing up from unable to speak or understand anything to functioning roughly like a teenager within about 5 days. Chappie is involved with criminals and desperately violent makers of war robots so there is some action involved too.
A lot of the time when people try to write science fiction movies I end up being really disappointed by them. I don't mind preposterous assumptions as long as the movie makes those assumptions clear and then writes a good story that makes sense afterwards. Chappie was normal in that regard because the way that Chappie acquires consciousness is unrealistic and the rate at which Chappie learns is ridiculous. However, the story of a robot growing up and trying to cope with the terrible conditions it finds itself in worked for me.
The problem is that the movie should have ended tragically. Chappie and most of the humans surrounding it should have perished. There was only one reasonably sympathetic character in the movie to my mind and it still made sense for him to die the way the story played out. However, that doesn't happen. The plot instead calls for Chappie to personally discover the secret of completely learning, digitizing, and transferring consciousness from body to body, including from human to robot. This way instead of everyone dying in a savage battle most of the main characters get to have stupid and unsatisfying resurrection scenes at the end of the movie.
I can cope with resurrection scenes, but when you just randomly tack them on to the end of a movie it cheapens everything that went before it. A character's heroic death suddenly isn't much of a thing when the writers randomly and without foreshadowing simply bring them back to life.
There is also the problem with the visuals. A lot of the scenes in the movie involve using computers and mostly they manage to make it look reasonable. Some hacker movies can't stop themselves from having the hackers manipulating giant 3D constructs when 'writing code' and Chappie at least avoided that... until the consciousness mapping part.
Apparently you can look at a digitized consciousness as an animated image, and it looks like a pixellated random colour map on a computer screen.
I know you want the characters and audience to see *something* when the main character suddenly acquires the ability to replicate human and robot consciousness, but having it randomly be a splatter of colours with a constant shimmy to it just makes me cringe.
The movie could have been so much better if either the foolish and unnecessary consciousness mapping was removed or if it just didn't work and all the characters died in the end. A tragedy would have been infinitely better than the Deus Ex Machina (seriously!) mess that comprised the denouement of Chappie.
It is just sloppy. Tell me what bullshit I have to believe for the story to work, then write a good story. Don't get halfway through and then decide to make up a bunch of new bullshit to desperately scavenge an acceptably happy ending out of a story that shouldn't be that way. The best science fiction explores what happens in a world with a twist, it doesn't keep adding twists until the story can be turned into pablum for the masses.