Despite early success with Academy Award nominations and critical praise, Neill Blomkamp is still an emerging director in science fiction, so it’s reasonable that he’ll have some missteps. Last summer, Elysium, only his second feature, disappointed some fans with high hopes, but his next outing will hopefully right the ship, and take the 33-year-old back to his South African roots. Chappie is going to give Neill Blomkamp an opportunity to dazzle audiences again, while at the same time deliver a substantive sci-fi movie.
According to one of Blomkamp’s collaborators, Peter Muyzers, the VFX Supervisor on both District 9 and Elysium, Chappie will fall in line with the look and feel of Blomkamp’s directorial debut. While promoting the new Elysium Blu-ray, Muyzers told the MTV Movie Blog, “A lot of the artists working on Neil’s films always go back to District 9. I’m not sure, but the impression that I get is that Chappie could be more like District 9 than Elysium.”
Chappie is currently shooting in Johannesburg, South Africa, far too early in production for Sony to release any footage. Still, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Blomkamp’s latest, though at the same time it’s tempered because of Elysium’s heavy-handed, flat story. Although the film has some great world building and high action, the story and themes were weak and too on-the-nose to be considered good satire or allegory.
Muyzers has been churning out visual effects in Hollywood for decades. His work can be seen in Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and Wallace & Gromit’s The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Peter He also worked on the first three Harry Potter movies for directors Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuarón.
Blomkamp’s new film is lighter fare than District 9 or Elysium, and will star Sharlto Copley as an automated robot named Chappie. Copley revealed that he will be doing some motion-capture work to bring the titular robot to life. Rap-rave duo Die Antwoord, composed of Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, will play two gangsters who kidnap the artificially intelligent robot for their own nefarious purposes. Hugh Jackman also stars as a “resourceful” CEO who has a bone to pick with the two gangsters, while British actor Dev Patel plays Deon, Chappie’s legitimate owner. Sigourney Weaver recently joined the cast as well, but there are no details about her role yet.
Blomkamp describes Chappie as a “simple story, a comedy, a heartfelt story, in a science fiction setting. And it’s fucking hilarious; it’s a really cool film. I can say that with confidence… It’s a smaller film, a more esoteric one.” He also described the new film as a mix between RoboCop and E.T., which is a interesting combination to say the least. He co-wrote the script with his writing partner and wife, Terri Tatchell, who also co-wrote District 9.
Chappie hits theaters everywhere March 27, 2015. Watch the short film Chappie is based on below.