In 2015, Neill Blomkamp's Chappie was released. The ambitious film revolved around a newborn, sentient robot who's separated from his loving creator (played by #DevPatel) and ends up with a group of criminals who become his family and raise him to be a high-powered lawbreaker.
It was an interesting premise that explored human nature through a different set of eyes, but the movie was a critical and commercial failure (it currently holds a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Now, two years after the film's release, Blomkamp has opened up about the film's disappointing outcome.
Chappie's Dismal Reception Was A Hard Hit For Its Director
While speaking to Den of Geek, #NeillBlomkamp revealed Chappie's reception was a painful experience for him, especially because of how much personal effort went into making it a reality:
"'Chappie' was unbelievably painful for me. That was difficult on several levels. But the thing with 'Chappie' was, it felt like it was extremely close to the film I had in my head. Up until the film came out, I felt like I had given my all, and that I'd tried my hardest to make the film I had in my head, and I felt like I achieved that."
His comments are really interesting because audiences tend to associate studio interference with bad final products. Essentially, directors need creative freedom to do their best work. In Blomkamp's case, however, #Chappie was almost exactly the film he planned from beginning to end. So it serves as a great reminder that creative freedom doesn't necessarily meaning a well-received film if the message is unclear.
Blomkamp went on to admit Chappie damaged his career. He referenced his previous project, 2013's tentpole #Elysium, as a movie he didn't particularly like but that had been fairly more well-received:
"We could go on for hours about 'Chappie' and where it sits. But it definitely hurt several parts of my career, I think. Those are all secondary to just the repositioning myself as an artist and just thinking about that. I mean, 'Elysium,' I didn't feel that way. I feel like 'Elysium' wasn't actually that good. That's the difference. I feel like I got it right with 'Chappie.'"
The director was expected to helm #Alien5, a direct continuation of the Alien franchise. However, that was eventually scrapped in favor of Ridley Scott's prequel series. The reasons behind the cancellation are a mystery right now, but you do have to wonder whether Blomkamp was referring to that when talking about Chappie damaging his career.
Standing By What He Loves
Despite the seemingly negative impact it had in his career though, Blomkamp stands by the film. His words make it clear he is a true creator for creation's sake, making it clear he'd rather create something he's happy with than be commercially successful:
"It put me in a very strange place for a while. I think that I completely came out of it making the right choice, which is that I'm just going to do stuff that I love. And that could actually lead to me living in the gutter. I mean it could literally lead to complete and utter collapse. But I would rather live in a dumpster, I think, being creatively honest and true to myself than not. So I think overall the result of 'Chappie' crystallized or congealed ideas in my head in a good way."
It's quite surprising to hear a director talk so openly about the effect his projects have had on him, particularly a deeply negative one. It will be interesting to see where Blomkamp goes from here.
What do you think about Neil Blomkamp's opinion on Chappie? Did you enjoy the film? Let me know in the comments!
(Source: Den of Geek)