Having recently landed the Alien gig at Fox, and with the imminent release of Chappie next month, South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has taken time to reflect on his past projects and, in particular, his divisive sophomore effort Elysium.
In hindsight, the general verdict coming out of Elysium was that it didn’t deliver on its intriguing, sci-fi premise of the have versus have nots, and, as it turns out, that’s a disappointment Blomkamp shares. Speaking to Uproxx, the director spoke candidly about the shortcomings of the project, and how the lackluster script was the root of its demise:
“…I feel like I fucked it up. I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story. I still think the satirical idea of a ring filled with rich people hovering above the impoverished Earth is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn’t… I just didn’t make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But ultimately it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there…”
It’s an honest, refreshing answer from a director who has built a enviable reputation in the genre following his Oscar-nominated breakout hit District 9. Whether Elysium was merely a one-off road bump in Blomkamp’s promising career will ultimately be determined by the reception of Chappie in a few weeks time. Even still, this didn’t prevent the filmmaker from offering up an frank assessment of his modus operandi:
“The problem with me is I get so caught up in concepts and ideas. Like I just said, the ring is so cool. The satirical idea of a diamond encrusted ring above, like, slums is such a satirically cool idea —I’m not like a normal person in the sense that I have to have a story for something to be interesting. Concepts are just as interesting to me as stories are. Where, to normal people, stories are more interesting,” he explains.
“So that’s an example of what I mean. I can be like, ‘fuck, I love this ring, I love all the visual effects related to it, I love these images and how they’re juxtaposed with one another.’ And then be like, ‘as a director, I could have done better.’ And you sort of realize that all these people prefer this element I didn’t pay as much attention to, but I paid a lot of attention to this.”
Chappie is due to hit theaters on March 6. For now, tell us, do you agree with Neill Blomkamp’s assessment of Elysium? Give us your thoughts below.