After making his directorial debut with the 2009 Best Picture nominee District 9, Neill Blomkamp certainly became a filmmaker that everyone had their eyes on. His follow-up, 2013's Elysium, was received fairly well by the nation's critics (68% on Rotten Tomatoes) and took in over $286 million worldwide, from a $115 million budget, although some considered it a failed effort. While doing the press rounds for his new film Chappie, the filmmaker spoke candidly about Elysium in an interview with Uproxx, stating that he believes he "f---ed it up."
"So, let's say you make District 9 and it does well. So, now, a normal director is like, "Sh*t, I've got this pressure because this last film did well and I hope this one lives up to it." I don't have that. It definitely doesn't bother me. The thing that bothers me is if I feel like I f---ed it up."
Does he feel like he messed up on Elysium?
"A little Bit."
When asked to elaborate what he would have done differently, Neill Blomkamp said he still believes in the general premise of Elysium, where the world's wealthy elite live in a luxurious space station hovering above Earth, but that he didn't get the story quite right.
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"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."
When asked why he released the film if he wasn't completely happy with it, Neill Blomkamp added that he couldn't tell for sure, because he was "in it." It's rare to hear a filmmaker talk negatively about one of his or her movies just a few years after its release, and when asked when he truly knew that Elysium wasn't working, the director had this to say.
"I don't really remember. I think, on some level, you probably innately know. 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."
What do you think about Neill Blomkamp's Elysium comments? Do you think he "f---ed it up?" Does this make you more hesitant to check out his new film Elysium next week? Of course, the filmmaker is now taking on his Untitled Alien Sequel after Chappie, so do his comments have you worried for that highly-anticipated project as well? Chime in with your thoughts below.