A cropped image of the poster for Chappie.

South African director Neill Blomkamp's latest sci-fi offering, Chappie, is available to rent on BoxOffice.

South Africa’s sci-fi golden boy, director Neill Blomkamp, has served up his latest sci-fi offering, Chappie, and it’s available to rent on BoxOffice now.

Chappie offers a gritty dystopian look at the not-so-distant future where robotics and technology are being used in the fight against ever-escalating crime in South Africa.

Like District 9, Blomkamp’s first major production, Chappie was filmed almost exclusively in South Africa, mostly in and around Johannesburg, which provides a number of great locations that look like they are in the middle of crime-central.

Like both District 9 and Elysium, Chappie is also based on some of Blomkamp’s previous short films that he produced while studying. This one is a combination of a short clip called Tetra Vaal, which is also incidentally the name of the robotics corporation in the movie, and TempBot.

The plot for Chappie is fairly simple – crime is uncontrollable in SA so the SAP (actually called the RSAP in the movie) becomes the first law-enforcement agency in the world to adopt the use of robotic police, loaded with basic artificial intelligence to act as peace-keeping units and also front-line assault and defence force for specialised human police tasked with taking down violent criminals.

The story takes a bit of a turn, however, when a pair of desperate small-time criminals (played by Ninja and Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord) kidnap one of the techies that work at Tetra Vaal in an attempt to hijack one of the androids and use it to up the ante in their quest for ill-gotten gains.

But when the android – dubbed “Chappie” by Yolandi Visser - is upgraded with a new version of the artificial intelligence, giving it the ability to think, reason and even feel emotion, all bets are off.

Meanwhile, a defence expert (Hugh Jackman) has his own plans to win government contracts and sell enormous, hulking military-grade robots (eerily similar to the ED209 from RoboCop) hatches an elaborate plot to sabotage the army of police androids and “save” the day with his own creations.

Chappie is a cool movie on many different levels. It’s always fun to see a major Hollywood production making use of South African locations and Blomkamp, quite unashamedly, flies the SA flag high in every movie that he makes.

Die Antwoord, as outrageous as they both are, are quite entertaining to watch and even Blomkamp-movie-regular, Brandon Auret, seems to have been given a free pass to up the levels of crazy with his character – playing a very culturally-confused gangster called “Hippo”.

Chappie is very similar to District 9 in a lot of ways. It’s rough, gritty and doesn’t really have a lot of frills. While it’s probably not as ground breaking as District 9 was or as polished as Elysium, I still think it’s worth a watch, if only to feel proud about what SA is managing to accomplish in the world of big-budget moviemaking.

Rent it now on BoxOffice for R30.