Three years ago, District 9 premiered at San Diego Comic-Con. The sci-fi film from first-time director Neill Blomkamp blew people away — and it continued to all the way to the Oscars. Now he's back with Elysium, another sci-fi flick with overt political and social themes. To lead his newest creation, Blomkamp hired Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, two Hollywood veterans who, over many years of great work, have never lost their edge.
Blomkamp debuted footage from Elysium, with pre-visualization effects and rough footage. It still rocked. Here's what we saw:
The footage sets up the movie's premise. In the future, Earth is impoverished and over-populated. The poor continue to live in the global slums, while the rich took to the skies in the space station oasis known as "Elysium." Anyone from the mainland who attempts to intrude upon the man made planet? Blown to bits. The 1% will f**k you up.
Matt Damon plays Max, a regular joe living on the ground, trying to get by, but constantly being hassled by robot cops. One day he's caught transporting illegal goods. He's quickly incarcerated. The footage jumps ahead to a moment in the prison, a scene with Max opposite a jail robot a few wires away from being a straight-up Johnny Cab (see;:Total Recall). While working in a factory setting (the prison? A job after he's been released?), Max's character finds himself in the worst work related accident of all time. Trapped in a containment cell, something alters his "organic tissue" and he's left messed up.
In the wake of the accident, Max meets with his friend, played by Diego Luna. They're part of an underground that hopes to use Damon to steal information from an Elysium resident, John Carlyle (William Fichtner). To do so, Max undergoes an operation — a grisly scene with half of Damon's head removed and computer parts implanted. The enhancement turns Max into a cyborg. He's got body armor, super strength and a device he can use to download information from Carlyle's head. So that's just what he does.
The latter half of the Elysium footage flew by quickly. Max goes on the hunt for Carlyle, breaking into this Mercedes-level personal spaceship, blowing away some robot guards and stealing the info. This ticks off the "Coordinator" of Elysium, played by Jodie Foster. She's dabbling with her French accent here — a really angry French accent. After stealing the information, Max's whole world opens up. He's on Elysium's must-kill list, on the run both on the ground and, eventually, up on the space station. The wasteland of Earth is reminscent of District 9 and Mad Max. Rough, dusty and terrifying. Blomkamp doesn't shy away from the bloodshed and several people explode over the course of the sizzle reel. Late in the game we're also introduced to Sharlto Coply's assassin character. He looks like a homeless guy, but he's just as powerful as Max, sporting guns, blades and an energy shield to protect from attacks. He's a deadly adversary for Max.
Blomkamp didn't reveal much context for the footage; late in the montage we see Max trying to break into Elysium. Why? Who knows, but Damon plays it with all the energy and ferocity he's shown off in previous films. This isn't Bourne, Max doesn't have that kind of confidence. But the raw power of Max's enhancements allows Blomkamp to play with chaotic action mayhem and it is inspiring.
Is Elysium the next District 9? If anything, it's the next logical step for Blomkamp who heightens the bar for blockbuster filmmakers. Check back in 2013 when we should see, hear and learn more about Elysium!
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]