CYBERMANCER:

battling to preserve a vital humanity

in the neo eon of computer generated imagery

in the twilit and allegorical film art

of Neill Blomkamp

 

by Gary W. Wright

 

        Like most fiction and film artists of the dread allegorical Zone Wars, the South African born and raised and Vancouver residing Neill Blomkamp was haunted by the helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer V/ic Morrow and illegally hired and used child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le in the early morning hours of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit, allegorical, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Frank Marshall produced, and Landis and Steven Spielberg executive produced Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983).  And like many film artists of the post-TZ disaster era, Blomkamp was implicitly ambivalent about the use of computer generated imagery (CGI) to enhance film art and prevent future film set disasters, an implicit ambivalence on display when he donned the co-writer/director hats and teamed up with executive producer Sir Peter Jackson to create the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film DISTRICT 9 (2009), released on August 13, 2009.

 

“Uncle Wikus is flying now,

all right?”

 

        Curiously, the film was a pseudo-documentary shot on the cheap with hand held digital cameras, a cheap approach in ironic contrast to the film’s expensive CGI enhancement, complete with commentary from the implicitly Kathryn Bigelow linked South African sociologist Sarah Livingstone-played by Nathalie Boltt-and the implicitly William “Cyberpunk” Gibson linked engineer Francois Moraneau-played by Nick Blake.  An ironic pseudo-documentary that told the story of the arrival over Johannesburg, South Africa of a mother spaceship full of sick and starving CGI extraterrestrials one fateful day in early June of 1982.  Significantly, the sickly aliens were soon shuttled from the mothership by helicopter to a literal alien refugee camp in early July of ’82, a date that linked the CGI ETs-nicknamed “prawns” due to their resemblance to bipedal prawns-to the month of the equally fateful and fatal TZ disaster.  Put in an alien refugee camp called District 9 outside Jo’burg like human refugees, the CGI prawns were eventually moved to a new camp called Sanctuary Park aka District 10 200 km away from Jo’burg after causing too much trouble at the District 9 camp.  A move that was conducted by the South African division of global arms maker Multi-National United (MNU), and overseen by MNU Department of Alien Affairs employee “Uncle” Wikus van de Merwe-played by Sharlto Copley-a friendly fellow who resembled and was implicitly linked to the equally friendly “Uncle” Walt Disney.

        Significantly, all went well for the CGI prawn relocation until van de Merwe accidentally sprayed himself in the face with some prawn deodorant while searching a prawn shack in District 9 for weapons.  Alas, at this point, to the saddened and horrified dismay of family and friends including the W.P. Kinsella resembling and implicitly linked fellow MNU employee Anton Grobler-played by Melt Sieberhagen-and van de Merwe’s Ted Kotcheff resembling and implicitly linked father Nicolas van de Merwe-played by Johan van Schoor-Van Der Mewe slowly and surely transformed into an all CGI sprawn, in the end, a moving and memorable transformation as memorable and moving as the transformation of the vainglorious and implicitly Spielberg linked rogue scientist Seth Brundle-played by Jeff Goldblum-into a flyman over the course of the twilit, allegorical and implicitly Spielberg roasting David Cronenberg indie docufeature film THE FLY (1986).  Thus, given the implicit link of Van Der Mewe to Disney, Blomkamp and Sir Jackson implied that Disney’s decision to switch from hand animated films in favour of all CGI films was causing its film art to lose its vital humanity as surely as Van Der Mewe lost his vital humanity over the course of DISTRICT 9. 

Indeed, the fact that the South African division of MNU was headed by the Michael Eisner resembling and implicitly linked Piet Smit-played by Louis Minaar-affirmed the implicit intent of the film, reminding us that the switch from hand animated film art to all CGI film art occurred when Eisner was CEO of Disney.  Thus, it was fitting to see van de Merwe use an armoured battle suit to desperately fight off the MNU commandos led by Colonel Koobus Venter-played by David James-in order to give some CGI aliens he had befriended a chance to escape to their mother ship, in the end, for the battle suit evoked that worn by the implicitly Jason Reitman linked Anthony “Tony” Stark aka “Iron Man” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, a series of films overseen by Disney after they purchased Marvel in 2009, the year of the release of DISTRICT 9.  Last but not least, Blomkamp implicitly roasted James Cameron in the form of an MNU doctor-possibly played by Norman Anstey-an implication that affirmed the implicit link of van de Merwe to a film artist linked to Canada.

At any rate, it was fitting that Moraneau was implicitly linked to Gibson in DISTRICT 9.  For in his next film, Blomkamp reaffirmed that he was a fan of the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature fiction of Gibson, a literary art that, as early as 1981, the last good year of film, accurately predicted that the arrival of the binary, digital computer world would create three types of people: the men and women who created and understood the hardware and software of the neo computer enhanced world, or understood what could be done with that hardware and software, would become the most successful and wealthy members of the neo upper class of the “cybernetic” eon; the men and women who understood how computers and their office suite software and other digital gadgets like inventory wands could aid their businesses and the adult and teenage employees who could be trained to use them as well would become the neo middle class; and the men and women who did not understand or were philosophically opposed to the neo cybernetic eon would become the poor neo lower class.  Curiously, Gibson also accurately predicted in his cyberpunk literary art that all three of these neo-cybernetic socioeconomic classes would turn to drug use, so that the upper class could briefly escape the stress, embarrassment and even guilt of success; so that the middle class could enjoy some “recreational” highs; and so that the lower class could briefly escape the stress, embarrassment and even guilt of failure.  A neo cybernetic eon with three neo socioeconomic classes that appeared, along with allusions to the presciently twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Gibson indie docufeature short story “Johnny Mnemonic” (1981) and the film inspired by the short story, the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Stanely Kubrick toasting indie docufeature film JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995) when he donned the writer/director/co-producer hats and teamed up again with Copley, Julian Clarke, Philip Ivey and Trent Opaloch-editor, production designer and director of photography (DOP), respectively, for DISTRICT 9-to create the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film ELYSIUM (2013), released on August 7, 2013.

 

“They can fix this shit on Elysium, man.”

 

Curiously, the film revolved around the implicitly Cameron linked Armadyne robocop factory assembler named “Mad” Max Da Costa aka Employee 6722-played as a boy by Maxwell P. Cotton and Matt Damon as a young adult, respectively-a member of the poor neo lower class whose job and shaven head evoked the equally bald robocop assembly worker THX 1138-played by Lawrence Duvall-in the eerily and presciently twilit and allegorical Lucas indie docufeature film THX 1138 (1971).  Significantly, Da Costa lived in a callous and cynical future Earth where the neo poor were trapped in rundown ghettos on the planet like the one Da Costa lived in in Los Angeles 2154 and the neo wealthy lived in a heavenly paradise called Elysium, which was a circular satellite with central spokes shaped like a star.  Just as curiously, after an accident at the robocop factory left him dying of radiation poisoning and with only five days to live, Da Costa spent the rest of the film battling the Evil and implicitly George Lucas linked indie Elysium Agent Kruger-played by Copley-in a desperate struggle to get to the Elysium satellite so as to be cured of his radiation sickness, helped along by an exo-skeleton grafted onto him by the rebel and possibly Kubrick linked L.A. hacker gang leader Spider-played by Wagner Moura. 

Significantly, while he made it up to Elysium where he defeated and terminated Kruger, Da Costa died before he could be killed of his radiation sickness, but not before he and Spider managed to download a cache of data in his head that was uploaded from the brain of Armadyne CEO John Carlyle-his “J.C.” initials affirming the implicit link of Da Costa to Cameron, and played by William Fichtner-and that rebooted the Elysium computer network and made all of the citizens of Earth regardless of their income level full citizens of Elysium and thus eligible for medical treatment on the satellite heaven, including Matilda-played by Emma Tremblay-daughter of Da Costa’s sweetie, the possibly Bigelow linked Frey-played by Alice Braga-an ending that evoked the similar end of JOHNNY MNEMONIC.  Thus, given that Da Costa died after his victory over the implicitly Lucas linked Kruger and his successful download of his brain cache that made all citizens of Earth citizens of Elysium, Blomkamp implied that he believed that Cameron had killed the vital humanity of his film art and himself trying to defeat Lucas with bigger and more CGI enhanced films, and that all promising film artists should be supported by Hollywood not just big names like Cameron and Lucas who attracted the big bucks to create huge films that were as CGI enhanced and realized as the Elysium satellite.  Indeed, the fact that Da Costa’s L.A. digs linked him to Hollywood film art affirmed this implicit interpretation of ELYSIUM on one level. 

And so another protagonist implicitly linked to a film artist failed to preserve his vital humanity at the end of the second Blomkamp film.  And so Blomkamp soon donned the co-writer/director/co-producer hats and reaffirmed his implicit interest in Disney and fondness for the twilit and allegorical cyberpunk fiction of Gibson when he teamed up again with Clarke, Copley, Opaloch and Diana Cilliers and Terri Tatchell-costume designer for, and co-writer of, DISTRICT 9, respectively-and returned to Jo’burg to bring the Gibson Trilogy full triangular circle in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Ozian themed indie docufeature film CHAPPiE (2015), released on March 4, 2015.

 

“Chappie be the rudest

bad boy streetwise professor in Joburg,

fuck mother!”

 

        Curiously, the film began in Jo’burg in another robocop assembly factory called Tetravaal, fusing the Jo’burg location of DISTRICT 9 with the Aramdyne robocop factory of ELYSIUM.  Here at Tetravaal, overseen by the implicitly Bigelow linked CEO Michelle Bradley-played by Sigourney Weaver-the brilliant and implicitly Landis linked young robotics engineer and neo upper classman Deon Wilson-played by Dev Patel-managed to install human consciousness on one of the company’s “Scout” robocops he created for the company, the perpetually beat up and implicitly Tin Man linked Scout #22-played by Copley-a damaged Scout with only five days left on its battery.  Alas, Wilson’s attempt to raise the newly aware Scout #22 well was literally hijacked by three members of the neo lower class, the implicitly Alex Cox/Scarecrow and Dorothy linked gangsta rappers Ninja and Yo-Landi-played by themselves, whose songs were featured on the soundtrack-and their implicitly Miguel Sandoval and Cowardly Lion linked friend Amerika-played by Jose P. Cantillo-who carjacked Wilson, stole Scout #22, who was quickly dubbed “Chappie” by them, and trained him in their hideout in an abandoned factory to aid them in their criminal pursuits.  However, despite this hijacking, it was noticeable that the rare times that the gangstas allowed Wilson back to teach and raise Chappie evoked the sight and sound of Geppetto-played by Christian Rub-teaching and raising the newly aware puppet Pinocchio-played by Dickie Jones-in the allegorical and implicitly Adolf Hitler roasting Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts and Ben Sharpsteen film PINOCCHIO (1940), implying that Blomkamp was addressing Disney again in CHAPPiE.

Which led to all sorts of tragicomic misadventures, and eventually to a shootout in the end with Wilson’s arch-rival at Tetravaal, the Evil and implicitly Jason Reitman and Great Oz linked Vincent Moore-played by Hugh Jackman-who, in an huge, neural headset run and Iron Man evoking armoured battle suit called the Moose recalled van de Merwe in his Iron Man suit at the end of DISTRICT 9 to truly bring the first Blomkamp trilogy full triangular circle, a shootout which led to the deaths of Amerika, Chappie, Wilson and Yo-Landi and the digital “rebirth” of Chappie, Wilson and Yo-Landi in robot forms, implying the belief of Blomkamp that Cox had retained his full and vital humanity while Disney and Landis had not, an implicit interest in Cox affirmed by the film’s allusions to the twilit and allegorical Cox indie docufeature films REPO MAN (1984) and REPO CHICK (2009).  All of which was mysterious and ambiguous enough to need further ponderings. 

And so CHAPPiE reaffirmed that Blomkamp was indeed an intuitive and satirical master of CGI enhanced, Disney needling and Gibson influenced indie docufeature film art worthy of the title of Cybermancer.  And so Columbia Pictures, Disney, Marvel and Ruben Fleischer implicitly agreed and also implicitly agreed that this fact made Blomkamp worthy of an implicit roastin’ toast, for they implicitly linked Blomkamp to Edward “Eddie” Brock aka “Venom”-played by Tom Hardy-and had him triumph over the Evil and implicitly M. Night Shyamalan linked Life Foundation CEO Carlton Drake-played by Riz Ahmed-at the end of the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced super satirical animaction film VENOM (2018), a film released on October 1, 2018 that was based on a character created by Dauntless David Michelinie and Tenacious Todd McFarlane for Marvel Comics and a film whose implicit Blomkamp addressing intent was affirmed by allusions to CHAPPiE, DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM.  And so looking forward were we all to the day Blomkamp decided to spring bok to the future and reaffirm that indeed he was a…Cybermancer.