Watch Rakka, Neill Blomkamp's short science fiction film


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/15/watch-rakka-neill-blomkamps.html


#2

two thoughts

  1. I hate obvious plot holes in character writing/development that are there to drive a particular scene forward. I get it is a necessary evil, but why? You make anti-alien brain control mind wave helmets, but don’t put freaking straps on them?! come on.

  2. I am unsure why in sci-fi there is a continued desire to write these stories. An advanced species capable of interstellar travel wouldn’t waste time doing all this. They’d have developed their technology and process for incubating their young, not need carbon based humanoid life on some random rock in the galaxy. Additionally, if their ultimate goal is terraforming even if they didn’t want to use a lifeless rock somewhere else of which there are far more and it would be far easier to do…they’d have devised a method of sterilizing the planet from orbit. They wouldn’t make it more difficult on themselves. Like a contractor building a housing development…they just clear the entire area instead of plots. Just easier.

I don’t love Blomkamp’s stuff. I don’t hate it either, and to Rob’s point it is really cool to see a big name director and big time actor in Weaver doing small things like this.


#3
  1. Yeah, an extra strap wouldn’t have hurt - but then we wouldn’t get to see the mind-control mcguffin, reminding us how dangerous these aliens are.

  2. Maybe those aliens are just assholes who like torturing other animals? If cats weren’t furry we’d soon realise that they are spiteful, torturous little bastards. My guess, that crocodile-looking alien probably has a different set of morals to us humans. Hell, even some humans go around shooting and maiming animals for laughs and “trophies”.

I’m totally with you on the desire for different stories though, “plucky band of rebels” is a bit tired.


#4

Perhaps it’s an allegory for something local, such as living under corporatism.


#5

I will have to watch later. Didn’t like Elysium, but loved District 9 and liked Chappie. Also loved that short he did about police robots in South Africa.


#6

cc @Tamsin_Bailey

I am absolutely sure it is an allegory…especially from Blomkamp. District 9, Elysium, Chappie, and now this…what could the common thread be? Hmmmm…tricky.

So I understand the why’s and heretofore’s here, its just a bit tiring.

I just see evolution as something normally logical. I do not believe intergalactic space faring aliens would be like is often represented in this kind of sci-fi. As D’Argo stated in Farscape, “I am one luxan warrior with one eradicator ship, I could decimate your planet from orbit and there is nothing anyone could do to stop me” We’d be toasted by the Sheliak like in the episode of Star Trek: TNG - The Ensigns of Command.


#7

Must be how “farm” animals see us.


#8

I, for one, want Blomkamp to have just enough money to make what he wants to make but not enough money that he doesn’t have to get creative to make it. More District 9 era and less Elysium and Chappie.


#9

Sometimes people just have one story in them and once they’ve told it, they kind of flounder. Blomkamp clearly wants to make sci-fi with a message, or weighty concepts at least, but it feels like the tank might be dry. I’m not sure that the whole writer/director thing is the best fit for him– I get the prestige of it, but theres no shame in telling someone else’s story. He’s visually creative and does interesting things with editing, but that’s not enough for a fully-realized film/short.


#10

The Godzilla films werent supposed to represent a real threat, they were allegorical, and our robot evolution fear is likewise about unspeakable doubts about corporatism. This type of alien invasion movie just asks, what if we are treated the way we’ve treated each other? Its not as if weve earned a happy first contact with our own history.


#11

You make a great point that lot’s of si-fi are mostly present-day allegories, like the HG Wells stories were. I think some contemporary si-fi shoots itself in the foot in using cinema vérité style… It’s just not the language of allegory. It could work, but the concept has to rise to the level of realism that the film-making technique is suggesting. District 9 does a good job of this for the first section and sort of devolves once it forgets it’s original documentary conceit. But by that point, you’re already on-board, so it works.

Maybe I’m forgetting other examples where it works well? Never saw Cloverfield so I can’t comment on that.

As a side note, George Lukas actually intended Star Wars to feel ‘real’ and to have a documentary feel– hard to imagine that!


#12

I’ve argued that the original Alien can be seen as a metaphor for cancer or autoimmune disease.


#13

If I were writing it, the plot twist in the third act would hinge on their telepathic abilities. The humans they kidnap have some sort of really mundane fate, like becoming zoo exhibits or something. The horrorshow is just to motivate the hell out of the rebellion, to froth us up into a fighting fury. Its for some live action survivor TV show, or something equivelent.


#14

See, this is the kind of shit that happens when a country drops out of the X-com program.

You can’t kill a damn Viper? Any X-com rookie can do that.


#15

It’s almost like Neil Blomkamp was in the works to make a big budget alien movie and the execs went “nah” so he walked up to the story board and pulled off 5 cards and went " i’ll make my own movie, with blackjack and Sigourney Weaver" and walked out. it did however leave me wanting more, i’m sure i’ll check out the rest of his experiments.


#16

Some background on this. RAKA is probably the most famous poem by Afrikaans poet NP van Wyk Louw.

From a Goodreads poster: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2784360-raka

"I read this book during matric as a compulsory reading and have re-read it since from time to time. The epos is only understandable when you read between the lines and understand the deeper meaning. As I understand it, Raka represents the strange/new/unknown aspect in our culture and out lifes. When a person first sees Raka, he is a stranger, the unknown factor. The people/culture gradually becomes more accustomed to this strange “character”. The strong one tries to fight him, to get rid of him, but does not succeed. The people “in the kraal” become more accustomed to this stranger, begin to praise him, until he is part of them.

The question is: Is Raka in the midst of this culture good or a bad phenomenon? The answer may vary from Raka tot Raka: There is no need to be wary of all strange things and customs, but sometimes we do allow Rakas in our midst which can be very bad. Especially if those Rakas lead to the erotion of our values, believes and good customs. "

Van Wyk Louw could well have been writing about the influence of Europeans on African culture in South Africa, or the influence of British colonialism on Afrikaners. Van Wyk Louw was a staunch Afrikaner nationalist and at first pro apartheid - in fact arguably its earliest intellectual long before the National Party got hold of the idea - and later passionately argued against it.


#17

Heh I think the idea might be that we see ourselves in the lizards. Terraforming + Sigourney, eh - nudge nudge, wink wink.

We don’t have a lovely history after all.


#18

So, WE’RE the bad guys? :wink:

Yup. Colonialism is a laugh-a-minute 'til some big bugger turns up and does it to you…


#19

With Blomkamp, he’s subtle and complex, and packages a trojan horse into the stories. See this:

In recent interviews, filmmaker Neil Blomkamp hasn’t really hidden his frustration with the current Hollywood paradigm. After bursting onto the scene with “District 9,” Blomkamp has had a bit of a rocky go of it, with his films underperforming. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came with the release of his film, “Chappie.” That film was released to poor reviews and low box office.
http://www.imdb.com/news/ni61210991?pf_rd_m=A2FGELUUNOQJNL&pf_rd_p=2540377602&pf_rd_r=111QV5W8ZM8XHBMVBKCR&pf_rd_s=center-6&pf_rd_t=15061&pf_rd_i=homepage&ref_=hm_nw_uk_tp3

I think people don’t like his movies because they cause discomfort. He’s not explicit about drivin self-examination; but he certainly has it in their.

LIke the way people treat “Chappie”, who to all intents and purposes is a bright 7 year old. It’s uncomfortable for humanity to watch the movie, because we all have that edge of the capacity to treat badly in us, and only social / ethical / religious / moral / etc binds keep us from doing it ourselves, in our real lives.

He makes us feel the impulse towards those behaviours. And shows us the mechanical conditioned responses that cause us momentary self-awareness of our own capacity for ill treatement and callous behaviour.

With District 9, who fails to see the obvious allegory of how we treat immigrants in our own areas? Awfully, I started thinking about that with the Grenfell Tower fire here in the UK. Thinking about the First Peoples in various colonised locations.

So he’s trying to find a way to sell movies, and he’s finding it tough, because Hollywood doesn’t care for his brand of ‘socialism’. It doesn’t sell like Tom Cruise in the Mummy [which looks atrocious], which has a gazillion $ in marketing.

I rather think that as costs of movie production decline, which is an evolution that allowed him to make District 9 in the first place, he will still be able to produce output, and it will have a dedicated and supportive audience.

He seems to be a person with a real soul. Bless him.

And he can tell a story, that’s for sure.


#20

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