I had incredibly high hopes for Neill Blomkamp‘s District 9 follow-up, Elysium. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment as a promising first act eventually fell away into meaningless action scenes once Max (Matt Damon) strapped on the exo-suit.
To his great credit, Blomkamp acknowledges that Elysium didn’t work, and takes responsibility for it. Speaking to Uproxx, Blomkamp explains why he felt the film didn’t meet his expectations:
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; the story wasn’t fully there.
And I’m inclined to agree. It’s not that Elysium is a bad idea—it’s a pretty great one, and one that’s incredibly timely to boot—but he never developed it to where it had the same impact as District 9.
Blomkamp then explained how he became enamored of the film’s ideas rather than focusing on the story:
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. So, that’s an example of what I mean. I can be like, “F*ck, 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.
It’s very refreshing to have Blomkamp speaking openly about his work, especially since it’s not like he’s decades removed from Elysium and has plenty of hits under his belt. It’s a healthy attitude, and even though I’m not completely sold on his approach to a new Alien movie, I’m going to keep rooting for the guy.
His new film, Chappie, opens March 6th.