One of the more anticipated movies debuting at Comic-Con on Friday was Elysium, the sophomore effort from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, because there hadn’t been any footage and very little information up until yesterday.
Blomkamp’s previous film exploded at Comic-Con back in 2009 when they showed footage of it in Hall H and it led to a hugely successful run in theaters as well as four Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Screenplay and Visual FX, so Comic-Con is something he holds very close to his heart. No one could possibly be disappointed by what Blomkamp brought to the Sony panel this year as he showed off seven minutes that gave a pretty clear idea of the general story, tone and look of his upcoming movie.
Elysium takes place in the year 2054 when the earth has gone completely to potit’s overpopulated with poverty and disease everywhere and essentially the Third World has taken over the entire world. Fortunately, those who are wealthy can instead live on the giant space station Elysium that hovers above earth, although it’s so expensive that only a few thousand people can live there while everyone else suffers on earth.
Matt Damon plays Max, a working class man on earth who becomes irradiated in a work-related accident and only has five days to live, so he has to get to Elysium where they have machines that can cure people within seconds. The movie is his journey to get to Elysium and the conflicts that arise in that process, because as we know, not everyone can afford to live in the penthouses of the ivory towers on earth. In Blomkamp’s future, this reality has been enhanced to the most logical extreme.
The footage shown was visually fantastic, showing off the stark contrast of earth (mostly filmed in Mexico City) to Elysium (shot on green screen soundstages in Vancouver) and we got to see quite a bit of the story, starting with an introduction of the world of 2054.
We then saw footage of Max on earth before the accident, dealing with the repression that the people there suffer as he’s confronted by a robot wanting to know what’s in his bag. When Max gives a smartass answer, the robot hits his arm with a club, breaking it, and it then seemed to imply that Max is jailed for that incident. We see him later dealing with another robot as he tries to get parole and he jokingly does a robot voice in response and then we see him (possibly ironically) working at a robot factory where he gets caught in an accident that irradiates him, giving him only five days to live.
Max goes to a friend named Spider–this may have been Brazilian actor Wagner Moura but it was hard to tell–to help him get to Elysium, because he can be cured there, and Spider convinces Max to get some sort of brain implant that can perform some function that will allow him to breach Elysium’s security systems. We see a little bit of that grisly operation but when Max comes out, he has a full-body exoskeleton with mechanical arms as they’ve turned him into a cyborg of sorts. Spider also hooks him up with some weaponry that integrates with his mechanical modifications.
The second part of Max’s mission is to kidnap a high-powered Elysium official, played by William Fichtner, who has come down to earth and we see Max going through with that plan, taking on the two robots that are protecting Fichtner’s character although Max succeeds in fulfilling that mission.
Jodie Foster plays Secretary Rhodes, a politician on Elysium who learns that an Elysium resident is in danger and she sends Sharlto Copley’s character, an unnamed bounty hunter, to kill Max. Quite a bit of the footage showed the conflict between Copley’s character and Max, as they get into many confrontations that involve both heavy firearms as well as hand-to-hand combat, but Max is able to escape from him and hijack a spaceship to Elysium, since we see him exploring that world while carrying a large gun.
One can certainly draw interesting parallels between Elysium and Len Wiseman’s upcoming Total Recall remake which screened footage earlier, since both are science fiction films about two very distinct worlds–one wealthy and modern, the other one impoverished and overpopulated–and they both involve men trying to traverse the gap between those two worlds as a revolutionary faction about the divide between the rich and the poor is growing. (We’re going to take a wild guess that we’ll see some sort of teaser for Elysium with Total Recall in a couple weeks because it would make a lot of sense.)
Before the Sony panel, ComingSoon.net had a chance to interview both Matt Damon and the film’s producer Simon Kinberg, known for his involvement with Fox’s “X-Men” movies, Jumper and the first Sherlock Holmes, which you can watch below.
Producer Simon Kinberg
Elysium is scheduled for release on March 1, 2013.