After a debut film like District 9, Neill Blomkamp was likely under a lot of pressure to make a decent follow up. Unfortunately, Elysium was a miss, critically and financially, and didn’t live up to the high expectations that many had placed on the up-and-coming director.
If you were one of the people let down by Elysium, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re joined by Blomkamp himself. In a new interview with Uproxx, Blomkamp opened up about the film, and quite candidly admits that he dropped the ball:
“I feel like I fucked it up. 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…”
It’s a strikingly honest assessment that you don’t hear from filmmakers that often. Blomkamp seems to have learned from Elysium‘s mistakes, and talks a bit about his flaws and hopes to learn and adapt as he moves forward:
“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, ‘fuck, 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.
The artists I really respect are the ones that are able to very objectively stand back from work and critique it. So, that has been something I’ve always been good at. I don’t assume something’s good because I did it and I get all cloudy and fucked up by it. There’s a separation and you got this really right and you got this really wrong —and learn from it and adapt.”
Tell us, what do you think of Blomkamp’s statements here? Do you think he dropped the ball on Elysium? Let us know in the comments below.
We’ll see if Blomkamp learned from his past mistakes when his next film, Chappie, arrives on March 6.