It's fair to say that Neill Blomkamp's Elysium is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Blomkamp himself, however, is already looking beyond. We've known for a while that his next film will be something called Chappie, but typically, the director has revealed practically nothing as regards what Chappie actually is. Blomkamp told us last year that it was some sort of sci-fi comedy with "a ridiculous robot character", but thanks to some scooping by Den of Geek, we now know a little more: Chappie will, in ways yet to be fully determined, develop and expand Blomkamp's 2004 short film Tetra Vaal.
A kind of fake corporate marketing ad, Tetra Vaal (embedded above) introduces the robot law enforcement officer of the future, which might on paper sound a lot like Robocop, until you take into account that this particular machine has been developed to somehow bring order to third-world countries. And it has big rabbit ears. "What if we could build a system to help police developing nations?" asks the infomercial. Apparently the answer is what we'll be seeing in a couple of years' time.
"Chappie is basically based on Tetra Vaal," are the exact words Blomkamp let slip to DOG. He also agreed that there's a distinct likeness between the Tetra Vaal-bot and the "Extra Special Weapons & Tactics" officer Briareos Hecatonchires from Masamune Shirow's Appleseed manga and animes. He teased that we'll "see some more Briareos ears".
We've been here before, of course: Blomkamp's District 9 sprang from his amazing 2006 short Alive In Joburg. We might infer a similar trajectory for Chappie then, but there are still far more questions than answers. Will Sharlto Copley - already confirmed for the cast - be playing Chappie in mo-cap, or will he be somebody else? Is mental South African rave-rapper Yolandi Vi$$er really aboard, as IMDb currently states? When we know the answers, we'll tell you.
In the meantime, Elysium, starring Copley, Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, is out in the UK on September 20.