Neill Blomkamp

Chappie (2015, Neill Blomkamp)

South Africa produces the most macadamia nuts in the world, as well as the most electricity. However, according to Chappie, those achievements come with quite a cost. Every single native white South African–again, according to Chappie, is an amoral, dimwitted thug. The only people in the country doing good are foreigners, like Dev Patel, who creates robots for the Johannesburg police department in the film.

He works for a weapons manufacturer, run by very American Sigourney Weaver, and has interoffice squabbles with Hugh Jackman. Jackman, sporting a mullet, lots of religion and a military background, is one of the film’s bad guys. At least he doesn’t have subtitles for when he speaks English, like Brandon Auret; that device is one of director Blomkamp’s annoying eccentricities. As opposed to his incompetent ones, which are legion.

The near future Johannesburg, with its Robocop-quote spouting robot cops, runs on command line Linux and flip phones. It’s dirty, it’s grimy, it doesn’t matter that Weaver’s company has achieved the extraordinary in robots, even before Patel gives one sentience.

With that sentience comes the titular Chappie’s new family–criminals Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser. Ninja and Visser, in real life, are rock stars (performing as Die Antwoord). They have interesting videos. Blomkamp turns Chappie into a bad commercial for them; relying on Ninja for acting is a big mistake. Visser is a little better, but not much.

Chappie’s an atrocious two hours. Blomkamp’s filmmaking masterfully combines dumb ideas, incompetent execution and bad directing.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Neill Blomkamp; written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell; director of photography, Trent Opaloch; edited by Julian Clarke and Mark Goldblatt; music by Hans Zimmer; production designer, Jules Cook; produced by Simon Kinberg; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Dev Patel (Deon Wilson), Ninja (Ninja), Yo-Landi Visser (Yolandi), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Yankie), Hugh Jackman (Vincent Moore), Sigourney Weaver (Michelle Bradley), Brandon Auret (Hippo) and Sharlto Copley (Chappie).


District 9 (2009, Neill Blomkamp)

I’ve never seen a movie before where the vanity producer (Peter Jackson) came before the studio who put up the money for said vanity producer.

Wait, this movie is supposed to be about apartheid? Director and co-writer Neill Blomkamp is from South Africa and adoring critics can’t stop making the comparison.

It starts in 1982. Mandela didn’t get out until 1990. Apartheid didn’t end until after he did. It’s a real lame simile, since it’s impossible to believe world events would have played out the same with the presence of extraterrestrials.

To be fair, I only saw a half hour of this crap before my wife let me stop it. When I told her it was two hours she she wanted to switch over to something more highbrow… you know, with fart jokes.

She did try to make some case for the film’s approach as a general statement about internment. It’s a dumb movie–no one learned to communicate with the alien language–and who really believes a Nazi-loving nation would really be trusted by world leaders to safeguard extraterrestrials. You can be all nice about it now with Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron and all, but remember, Lethal Weapon 2 attacked a sovereign nation, ridiculed it, to cheering audiences.

Audiences who have gotten stupider in the last twenty years–otherwise they would have hurled tomatoes at the screen, this derivative dreck’s idiotic narrative horrifying them.

District 9 is the stupidest theatrical release I’ve started watching in years.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Neill Blomkamp; written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell; director of photography, Trent Opaloch; edited by Julian Clarke; music by Clinton Shorter; production designer, Philip Ivey; produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Sharlto Copley (Wikus), David James (Koobus), Jason Cope (Christopher Johnson), Vanessa Haywood (Tania) and Louis Minnaar (Piet Smit).


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