Neill Blomkamp

March 06, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Chappie’ filmmaker Neill Blomkamp takes creative vision to the edge

Chappie (Sharlto Copley) in a scene from "Chappie." (Columbia Pictures)
Neill Blomkamp is a young filmmaker comfortable with risk. For his third feature, “Chappie,” in which gangsters gain custody of a robot endowed with artificial intelligence, the writer-director set out to craft a violent fairy tale about the very meaning of consciousness. And to anchor his South African-set tale, he cast the elaborately tattooed cult rappers Die Antwoord, a duo long on underground credibility but short on mainstream visibility. “You’ve got to run equations in your head, not financial equations, but equations of accessibility — at what degree do you think it’s too far or it isn’t too far,” Blomkamp said in Santa Monica late last year. “The idea of Die Antwoord in a movie, you’re on the outer peripheral edge there. To set it in South Africa, also, you’re pushing it. But I felt that the core story was […]
Feb. 18, 2015 | 5:21 p.m.

‘Alien’: Neill Blomkamp set for new film in iconic sci-fi franchise

Neill Blomkamp is set to direct a new film in the iconic “Alien” franchise for Fox. The director, well-known for his Oscar-nominated breakthrough “District 9,” announced the news on Instagram Wednesday. The studio then confirmed that Blomkamp has been hired to develop an “Aliens” script that would be produced by Ridley Scott and his company Scott/Free; the film would take place after the “Prometheus 2” story line. (Scott is currently working on that sequel, a follow-up to his 2012 release, with screenwriter Michael Green; the film is due to open in 2016.) Blomkamp previously had released concept drawings for an “Alien” project online, sparking widespread speculation that he could someday helm a new movie in the series. Released 35 years ago last year, “Alien” set a new standard for outer space cinema, with Scott’s painterly eye capturing the planes and […]
Jan. 09, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.

Sharlto Copley stars — but won’t be seen — in futuristic ‘Chappie’

Sharlto Copley as the robot in "Chappie." (Columbia Pictures)
South African actor Sharlto Copley has starred in each of Neill Blomkamp’s features, first as a xenophobic bureaucrat in the director’s debut, the sci-fi parable “District 9,” nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, then as a vicious mercenary in another dystopian tale, 2013’s “Elysium.” For Blomkamp’s latest, the futuristic fable “Chappie,” due March 6, he again takes a lead role, but this time the actor’s face won’t appear in the final film. Copley’s movements, however, give physical life to the title character, a childlike robot bestowed with an unusual kind of artificial intelligence who must find his way in a hostile world. FULL COVERAGE: Winter Sneaks 2015 “The [primary] reason it feels real is Sharlto was there,” Blomkamp said last month. “The actor was physically interacting with other actors. There’s no tennis ball situation where they’re acting off […]
Nov. 04, 2014 | 12:56 p.m.

Trailer: ‘Chappie’ brings Neill Blomkamp’s childlike robot to life

'Chappie' (featured image)
The first trailer is out for “Chappie,” the next science-fiction undertaking by South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp. “Chappie,” due in theaters March 6, 2015, is Blomkamp’s third feature film, following the Oscar-nominated “District 9” in 2009 and last year’s “Elysium.” The film is a sort of coming-of-age story about an artificially intelligent robot who is kidnapped by two gangsters. Played by Blomkamp’s longtime collaborator Sharlto Copley through performance-capture technology, Chappie is a childlike character who is still learning about the world and his potential place in it. “I brought you into this world. A machine that can think and feel,” says Chappie’s creator Deon, a scientist played by Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”), in the trailer. “Anything you want to do in your life, you can do. Write poetry, have original ideas.” Chappie paints, explores and learns from television, watching He-Man in “Masters […]
Aug. 07, 2013 | 12:21 p.m.

‘Elysium’: Sharlto Copley on ‘creative chemistry’ with Neill Blomkamp

Tim Burton has Johnny Depp. Martin Scorsese has Leonardo DiCaprio. And Neill Blomkamp has Sharlto Copley. The “District 9” writer-director and his leading man might not be as well known as others in Hollywood, but Blomkamp and Copley are emerging as one of science fiction’s most loyal and potent actor-director partnerships. Copley played a mild-mannered bureaucrat charged with relocating some aliens in Blomkamp’s Oscar-nominated 2009 sleeper hit, and now the “District 9” duo is working together again on two more movies, a sci-fi comedy called “Chappie” and Friday’s future-set drama “Elysium.” “There’s an intangible creative chemistry when I work with Neill,” Copley said of the friend he met when he was 22 and Blomkamp was 16. “We have common tastes and styles of what we like in film and characters.” In Blomkamp’s latest, Earth is crime-ridden and overpopulated, and the […]
Aug. 06, 2013 | 11:48 a.m.

‘Elysium: The Art of the Film’ details Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi tale

From "Elysium: The Art of the Film." Motion Picture Artwork and Photography © 2013 TriStar Pictures Inc. All rights reserved.
Neill Blomkamp’s second feature “Elysium” opens in theaters Friday, but a new book out Tuesday showcases the unique production design of the politically minded sci-fi tale. “Elysium: The Art of the Film,” written by Mark Salisbury, collects production art, photos and cast and crew commentary and includes a foreword by Blomkamp. Hero Complex readers can click through the gallery above to see a selection of images from the book. Blomkamp won a massive following with his full-length debut, 2009’s South African-set “District 9,” which earned upwards of $115 million in North America and received an Oscar nomination for best picture, and “Elysium” arrives with a great deal of fan anticipation. Set in 2154, the film stars Matt Damon as the heavily tattooed Max Da Costa, a down-on-his-luck reformed thief who embarks on a desperate mission to break into the orbiting […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 10:00 a.m.

‘Elysium’ director Neill Blomkamp on political sci-fi: Society gets to me

Neill Blomkamp is photographed in Santa Monica on July 15, 2013. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
In the future-set utopia that Neill Blomkamp dreamed up for “Elysium,” the lawns are manicured and lush, the women are slim and beautiful, and everyone is very, very rich. If that sounds a lot like certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles, it’s no accident — the South Africa-born writer-director found inspiration for his fictional enclave in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills as well as wealthy sections of his home city, Johannesburg. “A lot of parts of L.A. are interchangeable with suburbs in Joburg,” Blomkamp said. “Very big, ostentatious houses with palm trees and lawns. Lawns are very important. Never underestimate lawns.” Blomkamp’s action movie, which opens Aug. 9, is about haves and have-nots in 2154, with the haves living on Elysium, a luxury habitat that orbits a ruined, overpopulated planet. Down on Earth, factory worker Max (a shaven, tattooed Matt Damon) contracts […]
Aug. 03, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Elysium’: 33 photos from Neill Blomkamp’s Matt Damon, Jodie Foster film

Matt Damon, left, Alice Braga and Emma Tremblay in a scene from "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)
“Elysium,” Neill’s Bloomkamp’s new politically minded sci-fi thriller, opens Friday, marking the second film from the talented South African writer-director who won an ardent following with his groundbreaking, Oscar-nominated debut, “District 9.” The story, set in the year 2154, sees Earth ravaged by drought and poverty; the wealthy have abandoned the planet for a blissful life on a beautiful space station called Elysium, a paradise where any illness can be cured and interlopers are kept out at extreme cost. After a workplace accident leaves him facing death, Matt Damon’s troubled, tattooed Max Da Costa finds himself in desperate need to reach Elysium and willing to embark on a wild scheme in order to save his own life. But his plans bring him into direct conflict with Jodie Foster’s officious Secretary Delacourt and a black-ops thug known as Kruger, played by […]
June 13, 2013 | 6:22 p.m.

‘Elysium’ trailer: Matt Damon fights for his life in Blomkamp’s latest

The latest trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s anticipated sci-fi adventure “Elysium” offers a more detailed look at the “District 9” director’s dark vision of future Earth and sheds new light on the story surrounding Matt Damon’s Max Da Costa, a man desperate to reach the titular space habitat. Set in 2154, the film takes place in a world in which the wealthy have migrated to a station in the stars run by Jodie Foster’s Secretary Delacourt. By contrast, the poor have remained on a decimated, overpopulated Earth depleted of both natural resources and hope for a better life. On the way to his job, Damon’s sarcastic reformed thief manages to find himself in trouble — his bad day includes a run-in with robot authorities and a workplace accident that leaves him terminally ill. His only hope for a cure rests in […]
April 09, 2013 | 4:11 p.m.

‘Elysium’: New trailer invites you to Bloomkamp’s space paradise

Matt Damon in "Elysium." Credit: Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.
The new trailer is out for “Elysium,” Neill Blomkamp’s highly anticipated follow-up to his Oscar-nominated feature debut “District 9,” and it promises to return the filmmaker to the realm of cerebral sci-fi that won him such an ardent following. In the year 2154, the wealthy residents of Earth have relocated to the paradise of Elysium, a beautiful space station where there is no poverty, no war and no sickness — and where strict anti-immigration measures ensure that only those rich enough to pay for admittance are admitted to its pristine confines. It’s the job of Jodie Foster’s Secretary Delacourt to keep out the hoi polloi. After an unexpected turn of events leaves Matt Damon’s Earth-bound tough guy Max in a fight for his life, he agrees to attempt a risky scheme to save himself, but he finds himself targeted by […]
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