Niell Blomkamp’s Chappie is coming out soon, so I thought I’d better go back and re-watch some of his previous work.
I’ve seen District 9 many, many times, and few would argue it’s a spectacular film. The futuristic social commentary continues in Elysium, with a ring that hovers above the Earth and houses all the rich people as the planet is left to rot in poverty.
The rich people have beds that can cure them of any medical ailment. Not just diseases but, as proved by one of the villains, even the complete explosion of YOUR OWN FACE! Naturally, they don’t want to share it with the millions down below on Earth. This results in a bunch of ailing civilians trying to sneak there way into Elysium and access the medical beds in someone’s house before they get detained. It’s boat people, in space, and Jodie Foster is any number of previous Australian Prime Ministers. Or healthcare in the US, or whatever.
Matt Damon stars as the ex-con going straight who gets involved in an industrial accident, who gives everything to get up there so some little kid can get better and make everyone ‘equal’ again, giving everybody access to medical care.
It’s no District 9, it must be said. Yes, it’s layered, but it seems rather explicit in the points it’s trying to make. The biggest difference between the two projects is undoubtedly Sharlto Copley, who plays the massive hitman Kruger.
It came as a revelation to me that this guy improvised pretty much all of his dialogue in District 9, and in hindsight I think that gives the performance an authenticity that is lacking in Elysium – and perhaps that’s the problem. It’s not the difference in his two characters, but rather the difference between his role in the lead against Damon’s. The script seems almost restrictive on what could be more compelling characters than the archetypes they seem to deliver.
You could do a lot worse, though. The graphics are astounding, the points are made effectively, the concept is cool, too. Perhaps if Blomkamp didn’t set the bar so high with his previous effort, this would also be a standout film. Alas, it ends up a 7/10
BILL AND TEDS EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)
There’s a big difference between the teen comedies of decades ago and those of today (not that I’ve actually seen many new ones, I’m just assuming based on the trajectory they had when I was younger). While today’s seem more about overcoming your intelligence/ugliness/awkwardness/inability to dance/sing and proving that you can conform as well as, if not better, than anybody, it appears that the older versions seemed to try and educate people.
Yes, the jokes were stupid and immature – but have we really come so far? At least this film tries to teach young people something, even if the premise is highly flawed.
Bill and Ted leave their big speech until the night before (REALISTIC! SEE!) and are pretty much up shit creek. Thank God George Carlin comes along with a time machine, from the future, where Bill and Ted have changed the world.
Carlin’s back because if Bill and Ted fail their history assignment, the world will never change into the awesome place it becomes. Of course, this is a paradox, and a pretty flimsy one at that, but it was the 80s man, who gave a shit?
They travel through time in a phone booth and witness some key historical moments – but instead of taking notes or even just remembering, they actually abduct a whole range of historical figures – even though none of those historical figures ever went on to mention the fact they were taken by two stoners in a glass box. Watch as Napoleon tries to adjust to modern society!
In short, if you’re ever running late for a history assignment, just dress a friend up in costume. People will hopefully be too distracted to notice the gaping plot holes.
This isn’t a great film but, as I previously mentioned, when you plot it on the trajectory of teen comedies between then and now, it somehow still lands pretty high on the chart. 7/10
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)
The combination of watching Danger 5 and missing a chunk of Tarantino flicks on SBS, as well as seeing Brad Pitt in Fury a couple of months back eventually led to a re-watch of this one.
There are so many things I love about this film. Tarantino’s knack for entertaining violence and his love of using Spaghetti Western style music are just a small part.
It’s the story of a plan to kill Hitler and his high command, the Jew Hunter and the girl who’s family he murdered, and the bunch of American Jews with a taste for gruesome violence and dead Nazis.
The dialogue is superbly written, but what makes it even more amazing is the fact it’s done so in three different languages. They aren’t sprinkled in there, either, with huge sections and pivotal scenes taking place entirely in French and German – the bar scene in particular.
While the film might have sucked people in on the Pitt/Tarantino drawcard alone, few will have watched the credits debating that the star of the film is in fact Christoph Waltz. His command of character as the Jew Hunter Hans Landa is incredible, so much so that at times the scenes without him seem to lack. He takes your attention from his first line of the scene until the last, no matter which language it’s in. He might not have delivered quite as amazing a performance since, but even Tarantino acknowledges that Landa might have been the best character he ever wrote, and that without Waltz, this film might never have happened.
The climax is beautiful. The film builds beautifully throughout in the Pulp Fiction style of multiple character storylines coming together in beautiful coincidences that end in much death and destruction. It’s hard to call any of the main Tarantino films a bad one, but Basterds is easily the best of a great bunch 10/10.