There's a lot of hype that comes out of Comic-Con, and so let the hype machine begin for Neill Blomkamp's District 9 follow-up Elysium, which brought the loudest roar out of the Hall H crowd that we've seen so far. Set in the year 2159, Matt Damon stars as Max, a former criminal trapped on the wasteland that is now earth, working the daily grind in what looks to truly be a hell hole. The wealthy have all left the planet for Elysium, a perfectly crafted society hovering above earth where there's a cure for all sickness and those who can afford it live immaculate lives.
When Max is involved in an on-the-job accident involving radioactive awfulness, he's given five days to live and must return to his criminal roots in order to find a way off earth and to Elysium, where he can be cured. Part of this involves being retrofitted with some sort of armored suit that extends his life and gives him enough strength to rip the heads right off the lethal droids hunting him down.
The Big Highlights
-- Think Mad Max meets WALL-E, with a hard-R rating that includes tons of cursing, blood, violence and plenty of scenes involving people exploding.
-- The 7 minutes of footage we were shown was explosive and powerful; a true original sci-fi tone that's dark, bleak and creative, especially with its maniacal villain, played by Sharlto Copley.
-- Speaking of Copley, his character looks like a homeless badass who wields a sword and ninja-like throwing stars that explode once they hit flesh.
-- Some of the film was shot on location in Mexico City inside the world's second largest garbage dump. Needless to say this caused some issues. Not only was the dust in the air all fecal matter, but with a lot of scenes involving helicopters, the actors would end plenty of takes covered from head to toe in, well, "dust".
-- Blomkamp brought back a lot of the same crew from District 9 to help create the film, which looks like it was made for a lot more money than it actually was. A lot of credit was given to Blomkamp from the cast, all of whom said he was incredible prepared.
-- The hardest stunt on the film involved Matt Damon's stunt guy crawling underneath a cart full of pigs, which were so freaked out that they urinated all over him continuously.
The seven minutes of footage we were treated to was a mix of set up and action. We're introduced to an earth that's beyond repair; dusty, dirty, a world governed by sleek spaceships and vicious droids. Damon's character just sort of goes through the motions -- working a blue-collar gig in a factory, getting screwed left and right (there's a funny scene inside a DMV-like establishment), and things take a torn for the worse when he's infected by radiation following an accident that locks him down in the wrong room.
From there a robot tells him he has five days to live, and so he takes up with the criminals who shaped his past in order to get retrofitted with some crazy armor that gives him ridiculous amounts of strength, and plots to hijack a ship traveling to Elysium, the "perfect" man-made world hovering above earth; a place reserved only for the wealthy; a place that can cure all sickness. One event leads to another and our hero now has a lot of people after him; from the folks governing Elysium (Jodie Foster) and their representatives on earth (William Fichter) to a lone sword-wielding renegade assassin (Sharlto Copley).
Not all of the effects were finished, but there was enough to get a good taste. Definitely vibes of District 9 in the designs of the weaponry and ships, while the little we did see of Elysium looked like a very clean, perfect environment, where people can lay down in pods that scan their bodies, detect disease and sickness, and then simply wipe it clean. The artificial world appeared long and oval in shape, tilted upwards toward the sun.
As we said previously, this is R-rated to the core, with plenty of blood, guts and F-bombs being tossed around liberally.
Elysium hits theaters on March 1, 2013.
-- "There's definitely a theme of wealth discrepancy and separation between rich and poor." -- Neill Blomkamp
-- "Team America is my favorite movie of all time!" -- Jodie Foster
-- "I've always had a very intellectual approach -- always looks at movies the way I look at books." -- Jodie Foster
-- "The films I want to make need to take place inside interesting environments." -- Neill Blomkamp