Neill Blomkamp’s first film, District 9, earned the director a Best Picture Oscar nomination and plenty of goodwill from sci-fi fans. His follow-up, Elysium, however, arrived to much less critical and commercial success, and Blomkamp is aware that he let audiences down with his second film.
In fact, he summed up his feelings about Elysium quite simply—”I just didn’t make a good enough film.”
Speaking to Uproxx, Blomkamp opened up about where he thinks Elysium went wrong.
“I feel like, ultimately, the story is not the right story,” Blomkamp says of the script for the film. “I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there; the story wasn’t fully there.”
Blomkamp does defend some of the ideas in Elysium, which told a story of class difference where a rich, elite group lived in a ring floating above Earth while the poor and destitute struggled to survive on the planet. And the director does defend the ideas in the film that worked.
“I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea,” he said. “I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly.”
And while some of the core concepts and visuals did work, in the end, Blomkamp admits that his love for those concepts took his attention away from an aspect audiences would care about most—the story.
“Concepts are just as interesting to me as stories are. Where, to normal people, stories are more interesting,” he said.
Blomkamp’s next chance to make an impression on screen arrives on March 6 in the form of Chappie, but his other upcoming project, an Alien film, may be the real turning point for how much benefit of the doubt audiences will give him. Find out more about how his upcoming film came to be with EW‘s Q&A with the director.