I know I just complained about this, but here we go again. This time, there was a thread regarding Neil Blomkamp’s new online “film” Rakka, where he posted a teaser, of sorts, in the form of 20 minutes of footage. Reactions on the thread were mixed, but I said that, having seen the 20 minutes of footage, that I thought the whole thing was stupid. And how dare I say anything disparaging about anything I see online, right? Almost immediately, I had one person jumping down my throat for saying anything against Blomkamp. But sorry, I didn’t like it. I thought the story, as presented in those 20 minutes, was stupid. I guess I’m not entitled to have an opinion that might offend someone.Now I’ll admit, I am not a fan of Blomkamp’s work. I didn’t like District 9, I didn’t care for Elysium and I didn’t have anything good to say about Chappie. I went into this “film” knowing that I wasn’t going to like it because I don’t like Blomkamp’s movie style. But still, I gave it a fair shake and, as expected, I didn’t like it at all. Here’s why:
Blomkamp has a particular visual style that I really hate. Most of his movies have the same kind of “cyberslum” setting that I really detest. It’s like “everyone was better than you in the past and now you have to dig through their garbage to be worthwhile”. No thanks. And worse yet, he almost always has his aliens be too stupid to deal with their own technology. He comes up with an excuse why, in District 9, the aliens were just worker drones, in Rakka, there’s some “overlord” class that we haven’t seen, but when the aliens have vastly superior technology that allows them to easily conquer the planet, then he has to come up with a reason why the humans can win, he has to make the aliens idiots. Pass.
But it isn’t just the aliens that are dumb, his human characters are too. In District 9, Wikus van de Merwe was a complete imbecile who caused all of his own problems. In Rakka, Nosh is a pyromaniac terrorist who just so happens to have a skill set that makes him valuable to the resistance. He’s still a dick. If this is the humanity that I’m supposed to be invested in and want to survive, I don’t. It’s one thing to have characters with faults, it’s another to have characters that are simply broken. I think Blomkamp crosses the line almost every time.
Add to that the fact that the entire “film” is all done with past-tense voice over. Clearly, someone survives because they could tell us the story at a later time. So much for having any investment in the story. But as Blomkamp freely admitted following Elysium, he’s great at coming up with ideas, but he’s really, really bad at the details. Unfortunately, I think he might come up with ideas, but he never bothers to ask if the ideas he comes up with are any good, if they make any sense. I don’t think they do. I mean, what’s the purpose of screwing up a perfectly good planet when, if you have interstellar capabilities, there are tons of planets out there that ought to work just fine for you. Movies like Independence Day have the same problem. Why come here when there are uninhabited planets with abundant natural resources everywhere? What’s the point? It’s just hand-wavium for the sake of making a movie, not because you have a good story.
So anyhow, I didn’t just say “this thing sucks”, I explained my reasons in detail why I didn’t enjoy watching it. I didn’t insult anyone who liked it, I simply said that I didn’t. That’s when I got jumped by someone who insisted that not only could I not say I thought it was stupid, but I had to “respect people in the industry” by playing cheerleader for movies that I didn’t enjoy. Are you insane?
If you like it, great. Fine. I never insulted you as an individual for enjoying something that I did not. But people just react emotionally whenever something they like doesn’t get universal applause. It isn’t my job to make anyone happy. It is my job, as it were, to express my opinion. You are welcome to express yours. We don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like me. I really don’t care. But you are not going to tell me that I have to carry a flag in your celebration when I think what you’re celebrating sucks. Carry your own damn flag. This is not an echo chamber. It isn’t a safe space. You, my friend, are completely delusional.