Positive reviews are already piling up for 33-year-old South African writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s second feature film, Elysium, which stars Matt Damon and opens a week from tomorrow. If it’s anywhere near as successful as Blomkamp’s breakout premier District 9, which generated over $240 million worldwide, Blomkamp and his blossoming sci-fi empire, rife with sharp social commentary and breathtaking action, figure to be players for the forseeable future. A District 10 is being considered, but for the moment Blomkamp is already focused on Chappie, a sci-fi buddy movie with an outrageous robot and a comic twist. The slums of South Africa will be replacing the slums of Mumbai for Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) who is attached to play the lead.
Chappie is based on Blomkamp’s 2003 short Tetra Vaal, a 4 minute film layered with implications of violence and an intrusive, oppressive government. Tetra Vaal was created as a fake advertisement for a robotic police force patrolling the slums of South Africa.
Blomkamp favorite Sharlto Copley, who starred in District 9 and plays a ferocious assassin in Elysium, will play one of the police robots. Eugene Khumbangiwa (District 9) also stars. Controversial South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord (popular overseas and known for their bizarre presentations) will be featured in Chappie.
Blomkamp wrote the script with his wife and partner Teri Tatchell (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay Adaptation for District 9), and James Bitoni (The Grey, This Means War), Victoria Burkhart, and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) are producing.
Chappie is expected to be released in 2014.
Watch footage from Tetra Vaal here