Neill Blomkamp notoriously loves to keep secrets and play coy about his projects -- not in the obnoxious, sort of elitist way J.J. Abrams does that usually comes back to bite him in the ass because his secrets just aren't that big of a deal. Blomkamp shows how keeping your lips sealed can work by not making a huge deal out of his secrets. He's not a big Hollywood showboater who shouts, "I have this amazing secret, but I'm not going to tell you what it is!" Instead, he casually keeps his plans to himself, giving us only the tiniest nuggets of weird info, like how his next film, Chappie, is apparently based on this short film from 2003 called Tetra Vaal.
The short plays out like a brief (really brief; less than a minute and a half) promotional video for a robotic project that proposes questions like "What if?" without really answering them. It features a fully-functioning robot that can run and apparently utilize firearms in an impressive capacity. Mostly, the video just features people in South Africa looking at the rabbit-eared robot with quizzical expressions. The visuals and minimal information are enough to pique interest, while the nebulous quality makes it all the more exciting -- what is this rabbit robot? Who created it and for what vague security purposes?
According to Blomkamp, Chappie will be a sci-fi comedy and will cost about $50 million to make -- that seems like a lot of cash, but in comparison to most sci-fi projects, that's small potatoes. Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley has joined the cast alongside bizarre and androgynous South African rap stars Die Antwoord. But we don't know much more than that. Den of Geek recently tried to get more answers out of the director, but he only confirmed that the rabbit ears are definitely a part of the aesthetic, saying, "You'll see some more Briareos ears." Keeping it plain and simple and playing it cool -- take note, Abrams.
This is the second time Blomkamp has adapted a short for a feature-length film. District 9, his amazing sci-fi debut, was based on the engaging short Alive in Joburg. Similarly, Tetra Vaal features some very simple but startlingly realistic visual effects -- the kind of stuff you might take for granted because it seems too real to be digitally engineered. And while Elysium doesn't hit theaters until August, that's not keeping us from getting stoked over Blomkamp's next project. It's been four years since District 9 surprised everyone by proving that there are still original sci-fi ideas, and what's more, they can be hugely successful at the box office and cost relatively little in comparison to their redundant, franchise-hungry counterparts. Hopefully we won't have to wait another four years to see Chappie and more of these awesomely weird bunny robots.