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Neill Blomkamp’s New Short FIREBASE Twists the Vietnam War into THE MATRIX

Neill Blomkamp’s New Short FIREBASE Twists the Vietnam War into THE MATRIX

With the release of Firebase, the second experimental short from Neill Blomkamp, it’s clear that his Oats Studios is going to be a gift that keeps on bizarrely giving. After treating humans like rats in a future dominated by aliens in RakkaFirebase keeps up the trend of matching stunning visuals with a head-scratching plot. This time, in the past. Or something like it.

The surrealist short film follows an American platoon crunching through the jungle, dodging gunfire, and dealing with a shapeshifting, invisible being that can rip their guts out of their stomachs and make them dance in the air with its mind. It’s brutal. Blomkamp and company warp reality and fill it with gorgeously rendered gore. They also craft an inventive, mythic origin story that feels like The Matrix via Spirited Away.

Like most poetry, it’s best to let it wash over you until the moment everything clicks.

There’s a lot to love in this freewheeling dive into madness, and it’s easy to see why Blomkamp has built it outside the mainstream studio system. It rests a lot of its inscrutability on the shoulders of genre tropes—more specifically, our knowledge of them—to give us guideposts along the way. There’s war, violence, something strange has happened, and the government wants to cover it up. That’s all the hydration you need to make it through this fantastic, chest-thumping death march.

One of my favorite elements in Firebase is a constant theme of objects (and people) not acting as they should. A jet plane landing on its tail, tanks floating in the air, a man’s face pulled from his head solely from the power of his grief. War is hell. It’s chaotic. It doesn’t behave like you think it will. Thus, neither does Firebase.

Images: Oats Studios

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