Neill Blomkamp

Do I Still Agree With Myself?


Since creating this website in 2013, my writing and analytical ability have developed past that displayed in many early posts, and my views and understanding of the world and many of the works I’ve covered have changed. This often niggles me, and I’ve considered deleting some posts, leaving what I consider my best, but as they’re still popular and serve as a testament to how much I’ve accomplished over the years, I’ve instead decided to create this post. I’ll be reviewing my past posts, seeing what I still agree with and what I don’t, and clarifying my current views. Who knows, maybe this will turn into an ongoing series as my perspectives are constantly evolving, and there may be other posts I discover I have issue with!


The motivation behind this post was to praise economic writing and the song’s use of it. However, due to the lyrical content I’m examining, it could come across like I’m critical of the armed forces. I’m not, but at the time, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about going along with someone who was. I have no great knowledge or strong opinions about the military, but I’m greatly admiring of anyone willing to make a sacrifice in aid of others.


I don’t believe now the creators of Alien (dir. Scott, 1979) intended to criticise female empowerment, and I don’t think I believed it at the time. There’s actually a stronger argument for exactly the opposite, and aspects of the film I focus on can all be reinterpreted to support this. We do indeed see a future society without gender divides, and it works out pretty well as the strong female character Ripley ends up saving the day; it’s only because the male crew ignored her quarantine command that they got into trouble in the first place. The alien, symbolic of man’s bestial sexual nature, turns the male crew into victims of sexual violence, in ways previously beyond their comprehension; one even experiencing a painful childbirth as a result. The porno mag scene is clearly designed to be critical of female exploitation and sexual violence; the rabid Ash, spewing white goo, forcing the phallic magazine down Ripley’s throat. And although we do see Ripley strip to her skimpy undies for the climax, it’s revealed it’s shot from the perspective of the alien; forcing the male audience ogling Ripley to realise their connection with the beast.

As mentioned in the post, this analysis was inspired by my recent discovery of viewing films through the lens of feminism, and I believe I was motivated more by exploring this exciting new way of looking at films than I was with making a genuine exposé. This is also a symptom of university essay writing, which encourages analysis based on interpretation rather than fact. If you can justify it via your own interpretation of the screen language, it’s acceptable, whether you believe it was the filmmakers’ true intention or not. I don’t have a problem with this, in fact, I’m all for it! Finding connections and meanings in films that weren’t necessarily the filmmakers’ intention is half the fun of analysis. You can get into trouble, though, if you’re stringently critical of filmmakers for meanings in their films you’ve created yourself. I’d like to avoid ever coming across like this in future.

Aliens (dir. Cameron, 1986) does indeed reward Ripley with a family, symbolically returning her to the role of loving wife and mother. I don’t believe now, though, that this has to be viewed negatively. She’s never once depicted as weak in comparison to her male counterparts or shown she doesn’t belong in the heat of the action; quite the opposite. She draws strength from her maternal instincts, as male action heroes often have from their paternal ones (protecting family, being rewarded with one; common action movie tropes: see Mad Max), and this is to be commended. You maybe wouldn’t want ‘independent woman becomes wife and mother’ to be the plot of every action movie, but I don’t think there’s anything sexist about it here.

I think I make some good points in my analysis of Alien 3 (dir. Fincher, 1993) – an underrated film – in particular, recognising its depiction of a patriarchal society and rape culture; there’s depth to this film that’s often overlooked. There are a few points that were maybe just my own interpretation, tying together the overall point of the post, and not the director’s intention (the symbolism of Ripley’s sacrifice for example), but as I said earlier, that’s half the fun of analysis!


My analysis of how Love and Monsters criticises fans who have a very inflexible view of what Doctor Who should be, comes across a bit hypocritically intolerant. That was not my intent. I would never want to suggest people aren’t entitled to an opinion, more that people who are unwilling to accept the greater possibilities of what Doctor Who (and life) can be are missing out on a lot of strangeness, darkness and madness!


In the first of my Mad Max 2 (dir. Miller, 1981) posts, I posited that, despite their misleading appearance, the Marauders have more in common with traditional society, and the Settlers have more in common with the counterculture, but it is their more traditional beliefs that are their weakness. I think now, rather than representing any particular group, more simply, the Marauders are representative of what Miller considers the evil of humanity, and the Settlers, the good. The Marauders rape, war, pillage; they operate via a dictatorship, and they’re stuck in a cycle of selfish consumption. They lack a higher purpose and a desire to better themselves, which the Settlers have, along with democracy and a sense of community, family, and loyalty. The Settlers’ connection to self-sufficiency ties them with the counterculture (Pappagallo is a bit of an old hippy) but that’s more to do with the film’s criticism of fossil fuels (such an ironic theme) than an attempt to connect them with a particular group, and they possess many traditional qualities. Max is tempted over to the side of the Settlers and away from the marauding lifestyle once he’s given a purpose and a chance to better himself. The fact he’s betrayed – although he doesn’t seem too bothered about this – does add some ambiguity to the Settlers, but I don’t believe it’s their traditional beliefs that are being called into question. Perhaps, instead, it acts as a warning that although we require purpose in life, devotion to a cause can sometimes cloud one’s morality. I posited that the Settlers’ traditional community values give them a distrust of outsiders that prevents them from truly accepting the marauder-like Max and that their religious conviction leads to their act of betrayal. I no longer believe this was Miller’s intention. The Settlers’ initial distrust of Max is just a logical reaction, and their belief in paradise and Max’s martyrdom does not act as a criticism of religion, rather an endorsement of purpose and sacrifice and the spiritual power of storytelling.

GEORGE MILLER: there’s something that compels us collectively as human beings to find meaning in the universe. I mean, we can’t exist without that. And we do it through stories and narratives in order to explain the universe to ourselves. Or life to ourselves. And in all cultures across all time and space as humankind, we do that. We do that spontaneously. And I think that’s the function of storytelling, and some stories are so compelling, they become mythologies and indeed religions.”


In my Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (dir. Miller, 1985) post, I posited that it ‘also’ acts as a criticism of traditional (Western) society. I was closer to the truth in this case as it does offer a blatant critique of capitalism and seemingly supports a Marxist philosophy. However, knowing little of economics or politics at the time (I’m still far from an expert), but having done a little research into Marxism, I was quick to side with this critique without pinpointing any possible flaws. For example, we see those at the bottom of the hierarchy offered no payment for their services and no opportunity to climb the ladder. Not really reflective of capitalism. This lack of opportunity for social mobility and the fact that Pig Killer and his ilk are working solely in service of the state arguably aligns Bartertown more closely with communism. Either way, as I’ve mentioned, economics and politics are not my expertise, so I’ll keep away from siding with political ideologies, as I did here and in other posts, in future (certainly not before doing more research). The film also offers a more pointed criticism of religion, suggesting it can halt social progress. However, Savannah’s final monologue, again, endorses the spiritual power of storytelling.


This was a piece of coursework written in the final year of my degree that I later posted on my website. It again suffers from the university essay ‘interpretation over fact’ philosophy. It’s unquestionable that Strangers on a Train (dir. Hitchcock, 1951) and Pyscho (dir. Hitchcock, 1960) used homosexuality and transvestism to enhance their killers’ perversion, that Strangers’ protagonist, Guy, was a prototype final girl, and that these films, as well as real-life killers, had a huge influence on the slasher genre and its continuing characterisation of homosexuals and transvestites as deranged deviants. However, I don’t believe for one second and didn’t at the time that every final girl is symbolically a male in the midst of a sexual crisis. The concept just allowed for a new spin on the material that would make an interesting essay; much like my Alien analysis.


As they were based on interpretations of the earlier movies that I now disagree with, my hopes for Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. Miller, 2015) now, on the whole, don’t reflect what I’d be hoping for from a new Mad Max movie. I’m not particularly interested in the Mad Max series giving direct criticisms of capitalism (or the rock industry. Where did that one come from?), more human ills in general. I’m not sure why I was hoping for a clearer critique of the military, having no strong opinions about it (see Eat the Gun). I suspect I’d just foreseen the possibility of this happening and felt I should include it. I was hoping for feminist themes (my obsession at the time), criticising female oppression, and again I unfairly criticise heroines with maternal instincts (see Alien Equality). Again, a more rounded view of humanity’s ills would be appreciated today. I enjoy the religious symbolism of the Mad Max series and its contemplations on the spiritual power of storytelling and would always hope for their inclusion. However, while criticism of religious extremism and manipulation are alright with me, I would not hope for a negative depiction of religion in general. Ponderings on the afterlife are, again, alright with me, but I’m not sure why I was seeking a definitive statement on Miller’s belief in the existence of Heaven or Hell; I’d prefer a little more ambiguity these days. Today I’d give a big ‘no’ to the possibility of any romantic relationship for Max. Giving him a partner or a family would undermine the self-sacrificing nature of his character; unless they were planning on ending the series. Lastly, I’m still in total agreement with myself that CGI and an overly talky Max have no place in the franchise!


I still agree that the depictions of ethnic groups (and aliens representing ethnic groups) in District 9 (dir. Blomkamp, 2009) and Elysium (dir. Blomkamp, 2013) range from stereotypical to arguably racist and that they, along with Chappie (dir. Blomkamp, 2015), have character development and plot issues. However, I’m a little strident in my delivery. I was trying to break away from the university essay writing style at this time, but there’s still elements of it here (the adamant assuredness of my position) mixed with attempts at a more relaxed style, which in places makes me come across like a real arrogant bitch (criticising Blomkamp’s political commentary when I’m no political expert myself). Thankfully, I think I’ve developed a more personable, relaxed style since then; hopefully displayed in this post.


In my Mad Max (dir. Miller, 1979) post, I describe it as my least favourite of the original trilogy due to its morally questionable material. I suggest its depiction of Toecutter’s gang vilifies the counterculture while Max’s job as a cop suggests support for the establishment. I now disagree with this. The gang, like the Marauders, more likely represent the evils of humanity, with their lawlessness and purposeless self-indulgence. While Max and his job represent moral duty, and law and order; hardly things to be criticised. The gang’s homosexual characterisation is questionable as it bears similarities to the previously mentioned slasher killers, being used to heighten their perversion. However, there is the argument that the use of gay characters is meant to represent a sexually liberated future, with Max’s commanding officer Fifi also characterised as gay. I label Fifi’s characterisation as stereotypical, but he is a unique and memorable character, in a respected position, traditionally held by straight, masculine males, so that was perhaps a little unfair. I also cite Max’s traditional family life being presented as the ideal in comparison to the homosexual gang as being problematic. This argument is weakened when we consider the defence of the gang’s homosexual characterisation and the true themes of the trilogy, purpose and betterment. Max’s family are representative of this as are the surrogate families in the sequels he’s given the chance to help and protect (as he failed to do with his), showing the series is rightly supportive of families, and the protective nature of the parental figure (see Alien Equality). I was also critical of the film’s grim ending, but as this is clearly presented as a tragedy, it is in no way morally corrupt, and actually makes the message harder hitting, as seeing our hero (and identity figure) losing his purpose in life and giving into the gang culture and survival of the fittest philosophy, makes it easier for us to empathise with the film’s themes. Far from being morally bankrupt, Mad Max contains many admirable moral messages, and has gone up in my estimations to become my second favourite of the series (nothing can top Mad Max 2).

A further note on the fridging of Max’s wife, Jessie, and fridging in general. I referred to Jessie’s death as an example of fridging at odds with the feminism of the sequels. Fridging is used to describe instances in which a female character close to a male one is killed to further his arc. I now believe to describe Jessie’s death and every instance of this trope as sexist is a little ridiculous. Characters (male and female) close to protagonists are killed off all the time to symbolise themes and further the protagonist’s arc; Goose, Max’s dog, Mufasa, Newt, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. It doesn’t automatically make it sexist every time it happens to a female one. After all, it’s not their story, it’s the protagonist’s, and good economic writing dictates it’s they who should be the main focus. Not every support character can have agency, be a hero, and have a happy ending; that would just be a mess. It may be the case that more female characters are fridged than males (but thinking off the top of my head, I mostly came up with males), but rather than being a symptom of inherently sexist writing, that’s probably more to do with the majority of writers being male and creating male heroes, which I don’t think they should be criticised for (good writers write what they know). More female filmmakers and writers would probably reverse this trend (if indeed it exists; I haven’t seen the stats). Jessie, and Max’s love for her, are symbolic of purpose and betterment, and the lose of the positive influence of a woman in Max’s life is presented as a complete tragedy. Male writers should be praised for viewing women in such a way, not criticised.


Much I disagree with here. My central argument is that Furiosa should’ve been the only wife of Immortan Joe as the Fives Wives are superfluous, lacking character and agency, which reduces them to figures of objectification; contradicting the feminist themes of the film. This thinking is based on the rules of economic writing – don’t use any more characters than you need to – but I now see why the Wives are needed and where their agency lies. While Furiosa possesses a lot of agency, if she were the only wife, she’d resemble little more than your stereotypical rape revenge heroine, and while the Wives don’t do any of the kick-ass fighting, their agency is that of endurance. They have survived abuse through endurance and had the bravery to decide to seek help and flee their captor; it is they who set the whole plot in motion, not Furiosa. The implication being abused women shouldn’t have to be kick-ass fighters to be seen as heroes; there’s bravery in endurance and having the will to escape oppression. It’s true they wear skimpy clothing, opening them up for objectification, but the scene I cite where they’re washing each other with the hose is shot from Max’s perspective, inviting the male audience to ogle them, connecting them with the oppressive male characters of the film (it’s the same trick from Alien), and arguably this is done for the whole film. I still think as characters they’re underdeveloped and doing more than just giving one of them a weak love story would probably have been a good idea. Speaking of which, I still totally agree that Nux’s sacrifice is uninteresting and we would’ve connected with it more if it were given to Max. I’m not sure about cutting Max altogether and making this a Furiosa film, it probably could’ve worked, but having male and female characters learn to work together is a more positive way to go.

My statement that the film doesn’t expand much on what we learnt from interviews and trailers is utterly vacant. There’s a great deal going on in the film under the surface, but I think my overall disappointment with it on first viewing meant I just wasn’t looking. Everything we need to know about the world and the characters is shown to us, instead of repeatedly told; which is how it should be. I’ll give a brief summary but it’d take a whole new post to get everything. It’s another amplification of humanity’s ills. It depicts society as a perpetual war machine, kept going by a power-hungry man (that’s who killed the world) just so he can cling onto power. Women are employed as baby making machines while the men don’t fare much better, being bred and brainwashed solely for war; willing to die for the glory of their divine leader. Like the Marauders, they’re stuck in a cycle, with no higher purpose or chance for betterment, which is what they’re given via the altruistic actions of our heroes. It’s not on the whole how I view society, but it’s a credible exaggeration of the worst of humanity and certainly a layered depiction. I still prefer the original trilogy with its zero use of CGI and better use of Max, but I’ll gladly admit I was unfairly critical of this first time around.


Never thought this actually could or should’ve happened – I wasn’t campaigning for it – but it would’ve made a cool (possibly better) movie, and if they got the go-ahead ten years earlier, this could be quite close to how it would’ve turned out. As it is, I still think it’s a nice bit of fanwank.


This post continued the assumptions (I now believe to be incorrect) made in my first Mad Max 2 post about the film’s themes and what Max, the Settlers, and the Marauders represent. I also suggest the Gyro Captain’s ownership of a snake connects him with Satan and reveals him as the true villain of the piece. An interesting but farfetched analysis, his snake more likely representing his cunning nature, and his minor deceptions hardly paint him as the ultimate evil.


I cited the subversion of the ‘women as reward’ trope as something I like about Star Wars (dir. Lucas, 1977), and I still very much like this. However, it’s probably the subversion of the damsel in distress character that’s more appealing. No one likes the whiny damsel in distress, always stumbling into trouble, which makes Leia’s feisty, pistol-packing princess a really enjoyable innovation. The fact she’s not given to one of the male characters as a reward for their heroism is a bonus as it allows for a more unconventional story. It also showed excellent foresight as it would’ve dulled the character for the sequel, which is exactly what it did do when it happened (Leia doesn’t act like Leia in Jedi). I would like to point out, though, that, like fridging (see Mad Max), describing every instance of this trope as sexist would be ridiculous (not that I was doing that). Of course you want strong female characters, but the guy getting the girl doesn’t always equate to sexism. A female love interest may not always be as developed as a male protagonist but, again, it’s not their story, and she may be symbolic of very positive views of women (see Mad Max). Furthermore, female protagonists are given men as reward just as often. Some might consider this sexist, though, as it places them in a traditional gender role (you can’t win sometimes). Viewing films through the lens of feminism can be interesting and is definitely worthwhile, pushing writers to consider subversions of stereotypical characterisations and worn out, old tropes. However, it can also be very restrictive, to both creativity and enjoyment, if you are too extreme in your readings.

I offered Han and Leia’s relationship as something I don’t like about Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (dir. Kershner, 1980). I asked why does she fall for him as all he seems to do is act in a sexist manner and she seems quite adamant she’s not interested in him? I rewatched Empire before starting this post in a deliberate attempt to find material to counteract this argument but sadly didn’t find much. The first time we see Leia, she’s staring across the room at Han, suggesting feelings for him, but it’s subtle and easily missed or interpreted differently. Han expresses his feelings more openly, being rather sweet and sincere when he goes to say goodbye to her. Leia is very harsh in her response, and in the subsequent arguments, Han suggests Leia is concealing her feelings. However, not much is done to suggest this is true, as she constantly refutes his claims. It also begs the question, why is she doing this? Fear that it will undermine her position, or of falling in love in such difficult times? Possibly, but again, it’s not suggested. Han is protective and shows a lot of concern for her, but she’s always pushing him away when he does this, and when they finally kiss, Han comes across like a real sleaze, forcing himself on her (she escapes the situation as quick as she can). It’s true Leia is a bit stuck up and rude and could maybe learn to relax a bit, like Han, but this suggests the theme of the love story is ‘she really wants it, she just needs to loosen up a bit’, and I can’t really defend that. I also criticise Han not telling Leia he loves her, but more because it shows he hasn’t really changed or done anything to deserve her. The line is definitely better than the alternative, suggesting character and avoiding being mawkish; and the feelings are all expressed visually anyway.

I still don’t like Leia being revealed as Luke’s sister in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (dir. Marquand, 1983). It’s a ridiculous coincidence, mainly done for shock value, and doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen and been told so far. However, my criticism that she doesn’t react to the fact Darth Vader is also revealed as her father could be argued against. Her emotional interaction with Han after the revelation suggests distress, and her inability to divulge the truth suggests fear it could endanger her friends. I also state it doesn’t affect the story. This is a major oversight, as it sets up the most crucial moment of the climax; Vader using it against Luke, inciting him to embrace his anger and the dark side. It’s still a very silly twist, though. It would’ve been better if the other hope for the Jedi that Yoda refers to in Empire was Vader. It is, after all, Vader who kills the Emperor and destroys the dark side. This would show Yoda’s wisdom and strong connection to the force, knowing there is still hope for Vader, and reveal he was training Luke to turn his father back to good all along (like all his teachings suggest). This is even suggested in the mise-en-scene in Empire as Yoda is surrounded by black and bathed in red (the colours of Vader) just as he delivers the line, “no, there is another”.


I professed earlier that I’d developed a more personable style of analysis, devoid of the more strident (and bitchy) elements found in some of my early work, back when I was still refining my technique. Yet it’s hard to describe my review of Ghostbusters (dir. Feig, 2016), my latest film review, as anything other than strident and bitchy. My explanation for this? Ghostbusters is a truly terrible movie. I don’t regret one word.


Well, that, along with finally putting The Darning Needle behind me, was a satisfying purging experience. Now I can get on with bringing you brand new analyses, films, scripts, and other projects in the coming year!



With Chappie (2015), director Neill Blomkamp abandons his lofty aspirations as a political commentator, which results in his first film that is not actively insulting. Instead, he explores much simpler themes of acceptance and nurturing, but still fails to deliver – I’m not sure if that’s an improvement or not.

Chappie poster

Chappie takes inspiration from Robocop (dir. Verhoeven, 1987), being set sometime in the near future when robotic police under the control of a private company maintain law and order. Robocop used this concept to criticise capitalism and the privatisation of public services – as a private company running the police results in the interests of the company taking precedence over justice and public safety. Chappie doesn’t see this as a concern, with everything running smoothly until Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), an employee jealous of the success of the police robots, shuts them down so his rival robot ‘MOOSE’ can take their place. Vincent is a superfluous character who distracts from the main themes of the film and is only included to provide an arbitrary threat, and so the film can conclude with the customary ‘big robot battle’. His characterisation is hugely shallow, providing little justification for why he would put millions of lives at risk so his project can see fruition, beyond, ‘he used to be in the military’. Yes, Blomkamp’s stereotypical military man strikes again!


The main plot centres on Chappie (Sharlto Copley), a police robot given consciousness by the robots’ creator, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel). Deon is kidnapped by a gang of criminals (including the rap combo Die Antwoord playing themselves) who believe he has a remote control that can switch all the police robots off. Why they believe such a ridiculously convenient plot device exists is uncertain; perhaps they’ve seen Elysium (dir. Blomkamp, 2013) and know what to expect in a Blomkamp film. When Deon is unable to comply, they instead force him to activate Chappie so they can raise him as their own, and he can help them carry out a heist so they can pay 20 million rand to Hippo (Brandon Auret), a powerful gangster they’re in debt to. Here the main themes of acceptance and nurturing come into play. Deon wants to give Chappie the freedom to develop his artistic talents and scientific skills. Yolandi is gentle and loving towards Chappie, acting as a mother. Ninja acts as Chappie’s father but is aggressive and abusive, only seeing him as a machine he can use for profit. The third gang member, Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo), is a criminal Mexican and racial stereotype and doesn’t have any input (I think he just wandered off the set of Elysium). Military Man (yeah, I’m just gonna call him that now) also has an issue with Chappie being given consciousness, because he goes to church on Sundays (I think that translates in Blomkamp’s mind as he’s evil), but his presence is completely pointless because we’ve already got Ninja to act as the antagonist.

Die Antwoord

The main themes are all well and good but not sufficiently explored, and character relationships are not developed, being interrupted by pointless action. Firstly, we’ve got Ninja dumping Chappie in the middle of nowhere so he can get attacked by Military Man, and Yolandi can teach him how he’s different but ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’. Ninja’s motivations are confusing as he needs Chappie to commit a heist, so it makes little sense that he would risk losing him, and Military Man’s attack on Chappie was unnecessary, as Ninja’s already been prejudiced and violent towards him, giving Yolandi reason to teach her moral. Ninja gives Chappie a different moral lesson, telling him it’s a ‘dog eat dog world’. He also reveals that Deon put him in a broken body that will shortly die, and he can get him a new body if he helps him with the heist. Chappie confronts Deon, asking, “why did you just make me so I could die?” – a potent question. Deon’s answer is merely, ‘he didn’t know what Chappie would become’. A more honest answer might be he was selfish and put his desire for scientific discovery before concerns for a living creature, meaning he used Chappie for his own benefit, making him as bad as Ninja, who he has thus far criticised. But these facts go unexplored as the action cuts back to Military Man’s nefarious plot as he shuts down all the robots, including Chappie.


Deon takes Chappie to Military Man’s lab where he is able to reactivate him, here he discovers a helmet that Military Man uses to control MOOSE by reading brainwaves. Chappie takes the helmet and discovers how to transfer consciousness between bodies by reading information on the Internet and running a test on Yolandi. Yes, that’s right, he learns how to transfer consciousness because the Internet tells him how. However, all this information he discovers fails to inform him that people don’t just “go sleepy-weepy” when you throw ninja stars at them, and he is tricked into carrying out the heist with the gang and severely injuring multiple police officers. Chappie then conveniently fails to confront the gang, including his beloved mother, Yolandi, for lying to him and this discovery has no repercussions whatsoever. Instead, Chappie questions Ninja about getting his new body and Ninja confesses he was lying and apologises. It is uncertain why at this point Ninja decides to be honest and affectionate towards Chappie; the film is clearly missing an important beat in which Ninja accepts Chappie as a real person. Returning to their hideout, Chappie continues questioning Ninja, asking, “why you humans do this? Why you all lie?”. But these questions are interrupted by the pointless action, as Deon arrives to tell Chappie there’s no time for discussion as MOOSE is coming to kill him; big robot fight, YAY! Hippo also arrives, looking for his money, and there are lots of explosions and shooting and stuff, and Deon is fatally injured.


Chappie decides to risk everything to transfer Deon’s consciousness into a robot instead of his own and Ninja decides to confront MOOSE so Chappie can succeed. Very little of this makes any sense character-wise, the last time they saw each other, Chappie hated Deon, and Ninja has suddenly gone from lying to Chappie and using him as a commodity to being willing to sacrifice his life for him. Ninja’s attempted sacrifice fails as Yolandi refuses to leave him behind and dies trying to help him. Chappie finally destroys MOOSE, manages to transfer Deon’s consciousness, and his consciousness is also transferred to another robot by Deon. Ninja’s attempted sacrifice and Yolandi’s death are presented as big emotional events. We’re meant to feel moved by Ninja’s heroism and his tearful mourning of Yolandi’s death, but why should we? Ninja has been nothing but an abusive, manipulative arsehole for the entire film. The answer is that outside of the film, Ninja is viewed by fans as a heroic gangster with an undying love for Yolandi, but unless you have knowledge of Die Antwoord and their media personas, these events make no sense judging purely from what we’ve seen onscreen. If the narrative were to make any sense, we need a scene where Ninja comes to properly realise the error of his ways or Chappie and Yolandi need to reject him, and he receives his comeuppance. I’m a fan of Die Antwoord, so they are in no way the reason for my negativity, but expecting an audience to feel sympathy for their characters, even though it hasn’t been earned, makes the film come across more like a commercial for the band than a proper story.


The film concludes with Ninja discovering Yolandi’s consciousness was saved during Chappie’s initial test, and her consciousness is also transferred into a robot; so everybody lives, YAY! But what is the film saying? Deon, Military Man, Ninja, Hippo, and to a lesser extent, Yolandi and Amerika, are all guilty of putting their own interests above others – in Ninja’s words, believing in a ‘dog eat dog’ world. So, are Chappie, Ninja and Yolandi’s sacrifices a criticism of this way of thinking? Maybe, to be honest, it’s hard to tell if this was the intention or not as vital beats are missing from the script. Personally, I’d like to see a far more intimate and restrained draft in which the company, Hippo, Amerika and Military Man are not included or feature to a far lesser extent. Deon simply could have created Chappie to be the first conscious robot, and he is kidnapped by Ninja and Yolandi as they wish to use Chappie to commit crimes. The whole film could be focused on his upbringing, the right way to nurture him, and Ninja’s eventual acceptance and sacrifice. The main themes could be better explored, and character relationships could be developed properly. Will Blomkamp ever produce such a low-key script? Doubtful, as he’s an action director and visual effects specialist, so my advice would be, stick to those roles. The film’s action is well directed by modern standards, as you can actually tell what’s going on instead of being lost in a blur of CGI confusion, and the visual effects are distinctive and seamlessly incorporated. Blomkamp is clearly a man of many ideas, but I’d advise, in future, he give the job of scripting them to someone else.

More Neill Blomkamp!

District 9 


Elysium Synopsis

It’s the year 2154, and white people have fled Earth for the space station Elysium, leaving the desolated planet almost exclusively populated by racial stereotypes. As the only white man left on Earth, it’s up to Matt Damon (Matt Damon) to save these criminal degenerates from their own debauchery, in the latest unintentionally racist and contradictory blockbuster from dim-witted director, Neill Blomkamp.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon as Matt Damon

Matt Damon plays Matt Damon, an honest factory worker who struggles daily to stay on the right side of the tracks as he is tempted by the local Meheecans to drink tequila and steal cars. After being exposed to deadly radiation and discovering he only has days to live, he becomes determined to lead the racial stereotypes to Elysium, because, as we learnt from District 9 (dir. Blomkamp, 2009), a cause is only worth fighting for selfish reasons.

Spider Djon as Spider Djon

Spider Dijon as Spider Dijon

Standing in Matt Damon’s way is Elysium’s secretary of defence, Tallulah Starling (Jodie Foster), who plans to reboot the space station’s computer system so it forgets who the president is and she can make herself president; because that’s how political revolution happens (I’m not even exaggerating that bit!). Along the way, Matt Damon is aided by criminal leader and racial stereotype, Spider Dijon (Spider Dijon), and his gang of racist stereotypes, but faces opposition from a banal military man, known only as, Military Man (Military Man). Not the same one as in District 9, but played by the main guy from that film, and you liked that film, so, WHOO!

Military Man as Military Man

Military Man as Military Man

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District 9 



Dead in Joburg (District 9)

Upon the recent news that Neill Blomkamp will be directing the next film in the Alien franchise, I decided to check out his highly acclaimed début feature, District 9 (dir. Blomkamp, 2009). Based on the short film Alive in Joburg (dir. Blomkamp, 2006), its opening is shot in a similar documentary style. It then descends into a derivative and vulgar body-horror, followed by an overlong computer game shoot-em-up, featuring an extremely unlikeable and selfish protagonist, who at the conclusion, we’re supposed to feel sorry for (I think) because he makes flowers out of junk for his unlikeable wife.

The much praised allusions to the apartheid are actually quite exploitative, seeing that the (again derivative) plot about an evil corporation wanting to exploit a minority for militaristic benefit has very little to do with apartheid, and that the overall animalistic depiction of the prawns, the violent voodoo practising Nigerians, and Thomas – the big silent black guy who takes orders from the white man with a subservient, “yes, boss” – are actually incredibly racist.

Alive in Joburg is actually a far superior film, but even that contains pointless filler included purely to show off special effects. Its aliens are presented as civilised and able to capably communicate their ‘rightful’ grievances, and many of the racist statements about the aliens are taken from actual interviews with real Johannesburg residents, in which they’d been asked about Zimbabwean refugees. The interviews in District 9 are all staged, so they lack the satirical bite. Alive in Joburg is approximately six minutes long; District 9 fails to justify exceeding its forebear’s minimal running time.

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