Neill Blomkamp has been a hot commodity lately, ever since District 9 dropped on an unsuspecting public back in 2009. But he’s been in the business for awhile, creating commercials and shorts since 2003. Peter Jackson (of The Lord of the Rings fame) took notice of his work and gave him opportunities to break out of the limited realm of those commercials and shorts.
Blomkamp is clearly a talented director, but here’s his problem. All of his works share a common look, both thematically and stylistically. Where some directors rely on a style that’s prevalent through their works (a la J.J. Abrams‘ lens flare and Stanley Kubrick’s symmetric vanishing point shots), Blomkamp’s films predominantly look like they are lifted from the same world. A world where robots, cybernetics, and economic strife have divided populations and created lifeless dystopias.
Why is this bad? Because it keeps Blomkamp in his comfort zone, stifles creative innovation, and presents works to public audiences who become quickly jaded on entertainment. Moviegoers are fickle. Elysium has been greeted to a lukewarm response, and not because it’s necessarily a bad science fiction film (I enjoyed it) but mostly because of it’s preachy social commentary. This is also present in District 9. Audiences are okay with this from time to time, but if a director/filmmaker continually resorts to this tactic audiences will vote with their wallets. Most people go to movies to escape reality, not to have a allegorical finger wagged in their face in such a blatant manner.
Chappie is Blomkamp’s latest feature film effort that will be released in 2015. Not only is it again about robots, it’s based on a short film he previously created called Tetra Vaal (see below).
Below are Neill Blomkamp’s commercials and short films. Watch them. You’ll see that he possesses a serious obsession with robots and a bleak future . . . an obsession he doesn’t seem interested in abandoning, possibly to his detriment.
Nike Crab (2003)
Nike Evolution (2004)
Citroën C4 – Alive with technology (2004)
Tetra Vaal (2004)
Short, ideas from which would eventually go on to become Chappie (2015).
Alive in Joburg (2005)
Short, ideas from which would eventually go on to become District 9 (2009).
Gatorade Rain (2006)
Adicolor Yellow (2006)
Halo: Landfall (2007)
District 9 (2009)
Feature – Read our review here
Alien 5 (Release date TBD)
Feature – News on Alien 5 here