2 out of 5

Directed by: Neil Blomkamp

The first featured production from Oats Studio, Neil Blomkamp’s apparent outlet for “full creative freedom” while his proposed Alien movie languishes  in pre-production purgatory, Rakka is a twenty or so minute short that snapshots some moments / people in a world in which a creepy bio-mechanical alien has taken over the planet, leaving some

Sigourney Weaver-led folks to rebel where and when they can.  Yes, you are right to think that this sounds like cut and paste from Blomkamp’s other work, but as long as someone can deliver interesting material, I won’t bemoan them belaboring a theme.

But if it’s not all that interesting…

Admittedly, I have a slightly knee-jerk response to someone whose recent projects fell far below the spotlight of works in their past (for Neil, that’s Elysium and Chappie versus Distrit 9) and who then pop back up in a self-made suit saying “This is the real me, y’all, and I won’t be container anymore!” suggesting that their previous outings weren’t successful because they were held back by The Man, man.

Blomkamp hasn’t exactly said this, of course; as I said: knee-jerk.  And regardless, I was excited for Rakka, because content aside – and bearing in mind I loved District 9 front to back – Neil’s films have great visual candy, and so the compressed format of a short might’ve alleviated some story needs that hindered his preceding work.

Unfortunately, while there are still some wickedly cool ass design concepts at play here – the aliens’ building material is this vile, surging, living material and the creatures themselves are frighteningly realized – there is zero original content beyond that, and Neil indulges in some sloppy editing that renders scene logistics and transitions confusing.  Plus: excessive slo-mo, just so you can revel in how hardcore this all is.

That this is a self-produced feature is undeniably impressive – and kudos on nabbing Weaver for your rebel leader – but the small humans vs. aliens plot and related dialogue is tired as hell, and yet treated with an incredibly overwrought hand that makes this short seem to drag on for a lot longer than it should.