Archive for the ‘Neill Blomkamp’ Category

Gamers and Racers

Gran Turismo

Director: Neill Blomkamp

Cast: David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Thomas Kretchmann, Geri Horner, Oscar Nominee Djimon Hounsou, Joshua Stradowski, Darren Barnet, Pepe Barroso, Takehiro Hira, Daniel Puig

Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

South African director Neill Blomkamp who scored a hit with the Oscar nominated sci-fi film District 9 in 2009 returns to the big screen with Gran Turismo his new film about a gamer Jann based in Cardiff, Wales who gets selected by Nissan marketing man Danny Moore to be trained as a Formula 1 driver with the encouragement and expertise of his manager Jack Salter wonderfully played by David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, Black Widow, Quantum of Solace).

Gran Turismo features rising British star Archie Madekwe as the young and talented PlayStation gamer Jann Mardenborough who is an expert on the game Gran Turismo. Desperate to escape his Cardiff background and breakaway from his strict footballer father Steve superbly played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (In America, Blood Diamond), Jann is soon caught up in the fast paced world of international motor racing as he unknowingly becomes a pawn between Danny Moore who is desperate to please his Tokyo based bosses at Nissan and washed up American racing car driver Jack Salter.

Between Salter and Moore, they nurtured Jann to become not just a formula one driver but a winning one despite the steep and dangerous learning curve that the young man has to go through.

Not as elegant or flashy as director Ron Howard’s excellent film Rush or with as captivating performances as director James Mangold’s Oscar nominated Ford v Ferrari, Gran Turismo stumbles in the beginning as the story battles to finds its feet but once Blomkamp is in the international F1 circuit section of the storyline then the film’s action moves swiftly from Dubai to the racetracks of Europe, then this racing film relinquishes the training wheels.

Unfortunately despite the presence of Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings) as the sharp talking PR man Danny Moore, the male lead of the film lacks the screen power to sustain a two hour feature and at times Archie Madekwe looks lost in such a big film, although his performance is not perfect he battles with a below average script as does his more experienced co-stars.

Fortunately all the incredible racing scenes in Gran Turismo is where this film’s true strength lies and like all films made about motor racing they are primarily aimed at an audience that loves fast cars and cutting edge driving. The talented Blomkamp also has an uncanny ability to incorporate live action sequences with brilliant visual effects and Gran Turismo is no exception. The best part about this film is the razor sharp editing by Austyn Daines and Colby Parker Jr.

If you love motor racing and the PlayStation game Gran Turismo, then catch this film version in cinemas now.

Set in Cardiff, Tokyo, and Dubai and across Europe, Gran Turismo gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. Worth seeing.

Paradise Regained



Director: Neill Blomkamp

Cast: Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Jodie Foster, Brandon Auret, Alice Braga, William Fichner, Wagner Moura

South African born director Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi drama Elysium is visually astounding, thought provoking and violent. It’s the year 2154 and the wealthy citizens of earth have abandoned the overpopulated planet to go and live in a state of luxury and physical wellness on a wheel shaped space ship orbiting the earth’s atmosphere known as Elysium. Back on earth, the poverty-stricken and physically ill inhabit teeming run down cities filled with violence, decay and disease, of which Los Angeles is the metaphoric urban centre. Those men who are fit enough to work, spend their days in menial industrial labour, manufacturing robots which will police the poor citizens of the once prosperous planet whilst the rich international citizens of Elysium live in an illusory paradise, with clean air, mansions and advanced medical science.


Matt Damon (Invictus, The Bourne Trilogy) plays Max a poor workman who as a boy dreams of travelling to Elysium and whilst growing up in an immigrant Mexican neighbourhood, befriends Frey played by the gorgeous Brazilian actress Alice Braga (City of God). Oscar winner Jodie Foster (Flightplan, Silence of the Lambs) plays Delacourt the malicious and ruthless defence secretary of Elysium who enforces the rules of exclusion, keeping illegal space immigrants from entering the super rich enclave. Whilst Elysium and the rubble strewn devastated Los Angeles, is metaphorically a story about the widening gap between rich and poor in a skewed yet almost relevant 21st century version of contemporary society, it is Blomkamp’s visually arresting and riveting style which keep audiences glued to a plot rife with Third World ironies and First World warnings.

The action and violence is top notch and District 9’s breakout actor Sharlto Copley stars as the malevolent South African mercenary Kruger who is hired by Foster to chase Max both on Earth and on Elysium. Watch out for the fantastic facial reconstruction sequence which makes Total Recall look like child’s play.

To reveal more about the plot would only give the twists away and in Elysium there are many, but what is so impressive about Blomkamp’s second Hollywood film is his increasingly inventive story is told with verve and candour whilst the theme of the world’s super rich receiving preferential medical treatment is both relevant and frighteningly apt. Paradise is regained as Max, equipped with a scary Mad Max neuro outfit battles with Kruger in a seemingly savage wasteland amidst a bid for a rather vicious and technological coup of the coveted Elysium.

Diego Luna (Milk, Contraband) stars as Julio who assists Max is achieving his quest of reaching Elysium, which takes on Biblical proportions along with William Fichtner (The Lone Ranger) as the evil industrialist Carlyle.

Heavily influenced by such classics as Blade Runner, Mad Max and even Slumdog Millionaire, Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium is both impressive in scale, with exhilarating action and special effects sequences aided by the best sound editing heard on film recently.

Whilst all the plot twists might not add up and in parts characterization is too sparse, the overall vision of a dystopian society which has no remorse at leaving a massive poverty stricken, malnourished and scarred population to fester on planet Earth while the wealthy live in a high tech gated lavish community such as Elysium, is enough to view this as more than just another sci-fi action thriller, but one with an overt and brutal socio-political message: the wealthy cannot prosper at the expense of the neglected poor whether it’s through medical science or technological and economic advancement.

Elysium is brilliant, captivating, horrifying and visionary, a sort of Moonraker on acid. Recommended for serious Sci-Fi fans and lovers of District 9.

Why District 9 beat GI Joe at the US Box office…

Don’t get me wrong,  both films were worthy of some merit, but what is interesting is why a New Zealand produced, South African set Sci-Fiction Film, District 9 beat GI Joe at the US Box Office – one word – ORIGINALITY!!!

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District 9 directed by Neill Blomkamp was so original in its concept and form and turned the blockbuster Independence Day on its head and reversed all the usual ingredients of a sci-fi Aliens landing film. Brilliantly shot in a dusty, mine-dumped surroundings of the one of the largest African metropolises, Johannesburg, one almost feels that the city is as much a character in the film as the wonderfully funny South African cast who take on the slippery alien Prawns as they are left stranded on earth! Not going to give away too much more, suffice is to say, go and see an original and cleverly shot film! Worth watching for its genre-defying satire.


Rise of Cobra or the Return of the Spies who loved each other...

Rise of Cobra or the Return of the Spies who loved each other…

GI Joe, Rise of Cobra directed by Stephen Sommers follows the classic James Bond narrative of hero’s battling villains with a seemingly dangerous damsel who oscillates between the enemy and the GOOD  side and with an ending out of The Spy Who Loves Me, swopping the Mediterranean for the Polar Ice Caps, it was glossy, slick but nothing exceptionally different. Saving grace of the film was the great chemistry between Channing Tatum’s Duke and Sienna Miller’s sexy Baronness. Great viewing for a Sunday afternoon, but don’t expect anything unusual in terms of plot and storyline, just the establishment of another CGI-filled, location jumping and action-orientated film trilogy based on toys politely following in the Transformers tradition. GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra also stars Dennis Quaid, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as The Doctor and Christopher Eccleston as Destro.

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