When he first rocked up way back in 2009 with his big-screen debut ‘District 9’, the world immediately fell in love with Neill Blomkamp. Expanding on an original short film he had previously made in 2005 titled ‘Alive in Joburg’, the new kid on the block managed to craft something completely compelling and fresh which would go on to recoup more than seven times its budget. Which is no mean feat in the modern film industry. Blomkamp provided viewers with a gritty and bleak vision of how a ‘First Contact’ scenario might play out in his homeland, and the combination of guerrilla camerawork, blended alongside a mockumentary narrative wowed both audiences and critics in equal measure.
But with each subsequent movie release, the native South African seems to have been cursed by the laws of diminishing returns. His commitment to making new and original films whilst avoiding franchises and sequels has been admirable, but critics have accused him of recycling the same themes and formats, and box office returns have started to dwindle. Both ‘Elysium’ and ‘Chappie’ did manage to return double their production costs, but were critically panned, and seen as failing to live up to the success of ‘District 9’.
Blomkamp appears to have taken all of this in his stride, continuing to enjoy a solid base of online fan support, and is now being linked to a number of high-profile projects. Having previously worked in the ‘Halo’ franchise as a 3D animator, he remains the hot favourite to helm the long-gestating Halo movie, as well as strong rumours linking him to a proposed ‘Call Of Duty’ cinematic release. Then there’s the small matter of him being linked to a new arm of the ‘Alien’ franchise, having won the vocal support of both Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn, as well as sending the Internet into meltdown with his concept art of the characters from the original movies.
Despite the outcry for his proposed ‘Alien 5’ movie, it doesn’t appear we’ll be seeing any forward momentum on that project for some time, as Ridley Scott continues to develop and release his official ‘Prometheus’ sequels. So just what is Blomkamp doing whilst his pet project remains in its sad and depressing holding pattern? Well, if his social media account is anything to go by, something rather special.
Two weeks ago, Blomkamp took to Instagram to provide fans with their first look at what he next has up his sleeve. The picture he posted shows a clay model of some kind of hideous monster that will feature in the new movie:
Blomkamp went to great pains to point out that this had nothing to do with his ‘Aliens’ idea, but remained tight-lipped on exactly what it was. This was now followed up yesterday wth a further Instagram photo showing the director in set with none other than The Punisher himself, Jonny Bernthal:
That photo was backed up by a similar one posted on Bernthal’s Twitter account, with the actor decked out in combat gear, looking like he may as well have walked straight off the set of his Marvel/Netflix collaboration:
New film. Coming soon. Big love y'all. pic.twitter.com/sWgTcDLdOT
— Jon Bernthal (@jonnybernthal) September 16, 2016
Bernthal is very much the man of the moment, his star rising in stark contrast to Blomkamp’s perceived mis-steps, so his attachment to this new project is a much needed shot in the arm.
So what do the photos tell us about this new movie, which remains conspicuously absent from the IMDB accounts of all of the players involved? Bernthal’s unnamed character is packing some serious firepower and tactical equipment, and an ID card worn on his body armour identifies him as a security officer for a company/department named ‘MOLECULAR GENETICS’. This would suggest that the mock-up previously teased by Blomkamp is more likely to be a mutant or monster created by the hands of man, rather than an alien invader. It also appears to have two distinct sets of features, perhaps suggesting some form of genetics tinkering or experiment gone very wrong.
The project will also apparently feature Dakota Fanning, though she has yet to appear in any of the photos. In terms of a genre, it’s clear Blomkamp is still not moving too far from his safe zone, but he has gone to great pains to say he ‘Always wanted to direct one of these’, suggesting there will be a new feel to this movie, setting it apart from his predecessors. With Bernthal having previously provided the vocals for an entry in the ‘Call Of Duty’ franchise, there’s always the possibility we might finally be seeing a big screen debut for the famous computer game. Wouldn’t that be a thing?
Check out the photos, and let us know what you think. Either way, I think you’ll agree, they certainly tease something pretty awesome coming up in the future.
Turns out it’s a short film with Dakota Fanning and Clive Owen (reported by THR).