Don’t get me wrong, I think Neill Blomkamp is probably one of the most visually innovative directors working today. His films, despite taking place in an undefined future, always have a worn, grimy, lived-in look that’s almost the polar opposite found in other science fiction movies.
Almost the anti-Kubrick, if you will and I for one really appreciated the thoughtfulness he brings to each movie.
That being said, he also has a tendency to lay the moralizing on a bit thick. I didn’t notice it in District 9, his first film, because his visuals were pretty stunning.
Though by his second movie, Elysium, they weren’t enough to distract from sometimes heavy-handed storytelling. On top of that, a few too many things happened not because of any particular logic, but because the script needed them to.
Like, why didn’t Elysium have some sort of satellite-based defensive/offensive systems? We’re actually working on such things now, so it would have been within the (relatively) realistic framework of the rest of the film. Instead they used operatives planetside, such as Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to shoot down ships from Earth.
It was sort of odd, and was made worse by Blomkamp never explaining why that was the case.
His latest film is Chappie, which is the story of a Number 5–like robot that appears capable of learning, and how that changes the world around it.
It’s not a new story, and visually Blomkamp approaches it with the combination of what I like to call ‘high tech squalor’ found in his prior movies, though I hope the story is handled with a lighter touch.