Soundtrack Review: Chappie

In the past two decades, the name Hans Zimmer has been synonymous will the blockbuster film. His music manages to capture the very essence and absolute beauty of almost every project he touches and his unique style has served as the backbone for many action and adventure franchises. From his Oscar-winning score to The Lion King to Pearl Harbor to The Dark Knight Trilogy to Pirates of the Caribbean, not to mention a plethora of other notable films, Zimmer is the industry standard for powerful film music. In fact, one can even go so far as to call him the new John Williams. His latest work is featured in the quirky sci-fi actioner Chappie and while it isn’t the man’s best score, it does give a nice wink at synth-heavy soundtracks of yesteryear, most notably Vangelis’ 1982 score for Blade Runner, a film with many similarities to Chappie.

From filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (District 9Elysium), comes Chappie, the moving story of a future in which robots make up the police force. When one of these artificial beings is stolen and reprogrammed, the nature of robotics is changed as the titular character becomes the first robot to think and feel. Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver make up the fantastic cast and with Blomkamp’s masterful ability as a filmmaker, Chappie is one futuristic adventure that is not to be missed.

Contributing to Chappie’s success is Zimmer, whose music is reliable and on many occasions, quite special. With the film being about a robot, the score is completely made up of electronic sounds and samples which mirror Chappie’s very being. There is however a theme which supports the budding emotions Chappie is experiencing and of course, there are action sequences which are scored heavily by Zimmer and his musical toys. We get a very Transformers-esque score which makes sense because the man behind those scores is Steve Jablonsky, one of Zimmer’s students from the film composer company Remote Control Productions. In addition, Zimmer-collaborators Steve Mazzaro and Andrew Kawczynski have assisted the renowned German composer by providing extra material for the album.

With a career which began in the mid 1980s, Zimmer has reached deep into his own musical memory and given Chappie an identity very unique to films these days. His scores of the late 80s and early 90s were very electronic-based and while on the surface, seem cold and lifeless, were actually chockfull of color and vibrance. Scores to films like Black Rain and Backdraft are prime examples of this and it is really quite interesting that Zimmer decided to go back to these early works to build up his score for Chappie.

While it’s not exactly a cheery film, Chappie has with it, a score that is quite appropriate. The metallic clanks and at times, harsh instrumentation compliment the character very well and paint a lovely futuristic picture. It seems as though Zimmer is scoring pretty much everything these days and that’s partially true! The man has his hand in almost every big budget film and it doesn’t look like he’s letting up anytime soon. With his work in the recent Dark Knight films and Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman v Superman, this is Zimmer’s most productive and lucrative time yet. Chappie is just another jewel in the man’s already star-studded crown.

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