Back in 2009, an unknown director debuted a little-known, moderately budgeted sci-fi movie with no big name stars at Comic-Con. District 9 received one of the most incredible receptions in the convention’s history and Neil Blomkamp’s life would never be the same again.
Now 3 years later Blomkamp is back in the place that catapaulted him into fame, and he brought 7 minutes of footage with him.
Of course, the footage was exclusive to Comic-Con and is thus is not available online, but Collider was there and has a great run-down of what they saw.
Before we get to that, here’s a refresher with the synopsis that was recently released:
In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government ofﬁcial, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
Now on to the footage:
- People on Elysium never get sick because they have machines that can cure diseases. One shot shows a woman getting into a machine that instantly cures her cancer just by scanning her over.
- The corner Max is backed into is when he gets trapped in a radiation vault at his job. He’s hit with radiation poisoning and given pills to manage the symptoms, but he’ll still die in five days. The only way to save his life is to get to Elysium.
- His ticket to Elysium is to join a heist where he and two co-horts plan to download important information directly out of a guy’s brain (the guy is played by the great William Fichtner). Even though Fichtner’s character is on Earth, he’s a citizen of Elysium. Max is basically turned into a cyborg in order to be able to extract the information from Fichtner’s character. However, that was incredibly important data so Rhodes sends down an assassin-type character played by Sharlto Copley.
- Regarding the tone, the easiest way to describe it is “District 9 but bigger.” The movie has two distinct locations: the dusty ruins of Earth (which were shot in Mexico City) and the high-tech Elysium (which we didn’t really see because it’s so special-effects heavy). There are a bunch of elements that are in the vein of District 9 such as:
- Social disparity, in this case relating to wealth.
- Dirty environments; the ruined Earth bears a striking resemblance to the dirty Johannesburg from District 9
- Bloody destruction; if you loved how the weapons in District 9 obliterated people, Elysium is going to follow suit. One goodie we saw was when some guy gets hit with a ninja shuriken in the chest, and some other guy says “That’s not so bad,” and then the guy who was hit with the shuriken explodes.
But for all the great visuals (Blomkamp has once again taken his budget and made it look like far more than he had, and this was without even seeing a ton of special effects), what hooked me from the footage was that I cared about Max. Yeah, it’s awesome to see that Copley’s assassin wields a katana and uses a forcefield. But the hook came when Max, who’s bald, gets harassed by a couple of police droids who ask him what’s in his bags. “Hair products,” he responds.
Then they knock him to the ground and force him to visit his parole officer. And his parole officer is a robot. The bureaucracy is literally robotic. Blomkamp doesn’t handle this moment in a heavy-handed, preach way. It’s fun satire because immediately after seeing the robot bureaucrat, the robot says to Max, “You seem stressed. Would you like a sedative?” and then a tiny dish of pills pops up from the desk.
ComingSoon.net also managed to score some exclusive interviews with star Matt Damon who spoke about how Neil Blomkamp was wary of working with “Hollywood people”, how Damon ended up in the role of Max, and just a bit more about the character’s motivations.
Close to the end, Damon also briefly discusses the Bourne franchise and his feelings on the new direction it has taken with Jeremy Renner, and the possibility of him reprising his role again.
I really didn’t think I could get any more excited for this film, but after this weekend my anticipation levels have shot straight up into the stratosphere. There’ve been many great moments that’s come out of Comic-Con already, but many people lucky enough to have been there are already exclaiming Blomkamp’s next film as being the big winner of the convention.
There’s been no word yet on when we’ll be seeing a trailer for the film, but it better be soon.