I love me some original SciFi. I will pay top dollar (IMAX) to go see any original genre movie with an exciting vision, because that's what I wanna do. In a world of remakes, reboots, Transformers, board games, and every superhero under the sun being slotted into the Cineplexes around the globe, ANY bold, original SciFi / Horror idea coming out of Hollywood is a breath of fresh air, especially when coupled with a director who makes things look GOOD. I will gladly pay to see a movie that "doesn't quite work" or "takes too big of risk" over any of these other massive properties, any day of the week. JUPITER ASCENDING sucked my balls, but it meets these criteria, I'd say.
Neill Blomkamp makes my head hurt. I loved DISTRICT 9 and couldn't wait for ELYSIUM. Neill's SciFi world-building and imagination is very much in my wheelhouse and I love his aesthetic and AMAZING, NEAR-SEAMLESS visual effects. Strong work in all of those departments. I don't love how he directs his actors and, let's face it, his screenwriting chops leave a lot to be desired. That was Elysium's problem by a long-ass mile. But the movie looked great and was full of BIG SCIFI IDEAS, so I gave it a "pass." It doesn't quite work, but I'm glad it exists. Big 'ol balls. That's important to me.
But CHAPPiE has me scratching my head 'til it bleeds. This movie LOOKS GREAT and has some interesting BIG SciFi ideas pumping in its robotic heart. The character Chappie is kinda great, well-performed, and the CGI is seamlessly integrated into the story. But the characters and the way the story is presented is just SO DUMB. Just dumb people, doing dumb things. This is shitty storytelling, and that's something I just can't give a "pass" regardless of how imaginative, awesome-looking or bold the movie is. Putting Die Antwoord in leading roles was "bold", but you could say the same thing about putting Britney Spears in a movie. Interesting choice.
This brings me to ALIEN 5. Neill Blomkamp gets to direct this -- what I would call a DREAM GIG for any filmmaker. I was excited about the concept art he released online and his desire to continue the story from ALIENS (part 2) -- perhaps my favorite movie of all time. But I'm quite concerned about his ability to deliver "the goods" at this point. Maybe if he wasn't the one writing the script, I'd be a little more stoked. We'll see. I'm scared, though. Please hold my hand.
I support original SciFi because that's what I love and that's what I want to do with my career. I just hope these visionary directors (Blomkamp, the Wachowski Siblings, et al) don't fuck it up for the rest of us, burning up MASSIVE budgets on their poorly conceived stories. 2015 is off to a ROUGH start.
But I will keep showing up at the Cineplex, cash in hand, an optimistic twinkle in my eye. Like the cow in the cattle line, filing into the slaughterhouse. Goddammit.
-Written by Justin Staggs