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Creator / Neill Blomkamp

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Neill Blomkamp (born 17 September 1979 in Johannesburg, South Africa) is a South African-Canadian director, best known for his first feature film District 9. After directing several commercials and short films, Blomkamp caught the eye of producer-director Peter Jackson thanks to his excellent work on Halo: Landfall, a trio of Halo short films taking place shortly before Halo 3. Blomkamp and Jackson, with the aid of Microsoft and Bungie, began working on a Halo movie, but the project failed to secure a studio willing to fund the film and was eventually shelved. As consolation Jackson offered to fund Blomkamp's next film, a fable about first contact and human prejudice set down in South Africa. District 9 earned a lot of media praise and success, which Blomkamp followed up with his next films Elysium and Chappie.

He was also in line to direct a film in the Alien setting, which was greenlit after he teased concept art for the movie. Sigourney Weaver was signed on to return as Ellen Ripley, with Michael Biehn in talks to return as Dwayne Hicks and Ridley Scott was going to produce the movie. Unfortunately in 2017, Fox canned the sequel due to a lack of faith in the product and Blomkamp unable to write a script during its development. His fourth film, Demonic, was released simultaneously in theatres and on-demand on August 20th, 2021.

He is currently part of the independent film production company Oats Studios. His next film will be Gran Turismo (2023), based on both the video game series and a true life story connected to the games.

His films have several distinctive trademarks: being science-fiction, amazing special-effects, very overt social commentary, being set in impoverished urban areas, South African culture, shaky-cam, lots of blood, and starring Sharlto Copley.

He is also distinctly One of Us, having worked on the original Halo, and says that he based the design of the character of Chappie on Briareos from Appleseed.

Recurring tropes in Blomkamp's films include:

  • An Aesop:
    • District 9 is a metaphor for apartheid, and thus has some explicit brutal imagery of the savagery of humans upon fellow sentient beings. It was set in Blomkamp's hometown of Johannesburg and the title alluding to Cape Town's District Six.
    • Elysium is often interpreted as a metaphor for the immigration issue between America and Mexico, with the titular space station being a beautiful haven for the rich and Earth being an overpopulated hellhole. It can also be taken as a harsh critique of health care systems that base treatment quality on financial or social status, denying essential treatments and medications to those who cannot afford them and charging exploitative prices to those who can.
  • Author Appeal: The Nissan GT-R has appeared in every one of his movies, driven by a protagonist. Blomkamp got mildly annoyed in a Motortrend magazine interview that the musician Dead Mau 5 got one for free (which is ignored in favor of a Ferrari), but he had to buy all of them despite them showing up in his previous movies as free Product Placement.
    • Exaggerated with Gran Turismo (2023), where both the protagonists and some of his rivals use a wide variety of GT-Rs (both the production versions and the GT3 race car).
  • Amoral Afrikaner: To date, he always has Former Regime Personnel in his films as inhumane and nigh-unstoppable major foes. One would believe that there is personal experience there; perhaps Blomkamp simply can't think of anyone more dangerous and cruel than the enforcers of The Apartheid Era. He has a point.
  • BFG: All of his movies feature some pimpin', wonderfully destructive, and unnecessarily lethal guns. Halo: Landfall had a rocket launcher blow a Brute to pieces, District 9 had all of the prawn weapons (such as the ARC Gun that explodes people in a Pink Mist), and Elysium had explosive-round assault rifles, laser cutters, and a realistic (read: gorily piercing right through any cover and armor) railgun.
  • Crapsack World:
    • South Africa in District 9, especially the titular site, which is a slum for housing the stranded aliens.
    • Earth in Elysium, which is tearing itself down to a wasteland thanks to overpopulation.
    • Earth in Rakka, which has been invaded by a hostile alien race that has exterminated the majority of humanity and is steadily terraforming the planet into an environment that is toxic to the survivors.
  • Creator Thumbprint: The man loves his graffiti.
  • Gorn: At least one person gets blown to bloody smithereens in each of his movies, usually courtesy of some BFG.
  • Gun Porn: He's almost like a futuristic Michael Bay in this regard, with how well detailed and intricate guns and weaponry are presented in his films.
  • Jitter Cam: Aplenty, especially in District 9 and Halo: Landfall.
  • Mini-Mecha:
    • District 9's prawn mecha, which Wikus controls at the climax.
    • Elysium's protagonist Max gets an exoskeleton drilled into his body for superhuman strength. The Dragon Kruger has a more advanced Powered Armor version.
    • Vincent Moore commands an experimental mecha called "The Moose", which he has been trying unsuccessfully to be mass-produced for the military.
  • Production Posse: Sharlto Copley, who Blomkamp has known since he was 16, appears in all three of his feature films in a major role. Cinematographer Trent Opaloch is also a common collaborator as well. Gran Turismo is the exception as it's his only film to feature neither of them.
    • Copley also appears in Oats Studios' short "God: Serengeti", in the titular role.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Typical villains of his movies are white, psychopathic mercenaries from South Africa.
    • In District 9 the Mega-Corp MNU has a whole army of them, led by the sadistic Koobus Venter who cares about nothing as long as he can torture and kill aliens and get away with it.
    • In Elysium there is Kruger, a bloodthirsty, cybernetically-augmented One-Man Army that is so apeshit that only the just as sociopathic General Ripper of the station's security was foolish enough to employ. He starts as The Dragon to Elysium's chairwoman Delacourt but later on kills her and takes her place as the top villain.
    • Chappie has Vincent Moore, an ex-Special Ops soldier leading the hunt for the titular robot and controlling a Mini-Mecha. He's more sympathetic than previous Blomkamp examples, though, in that part of his motive is resentment for Chappie's fellow drones phasing his soldiers and The Moose out of service. Also, he's not ethnically South African, though he lives there and works for a South African company, so it's a minor difference.
    • While not a soldier, Nicholas Capa from Gran Turismo has absolutely no regards for safety on track and will try to bring down his rivals on and off the track. He's essentially written as if he were Nikita Mazepin or Santino Ferrucci.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • As mentioned, Blomkamp was initially touted to direct a Halo movie.
    • Subverted with the Aliens sequel, as Blomkamp originally stated that he wasn't working on the project when he posted the concept art pieces for it, but he decided to get the movie made after overwhelming support from the fanbase... then Double Subverted when Fox decided to pull the plug on the project for multiple reasons best discussed elsewhere.