When I first saw Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 in theaters, I remember feeling like I had just seen a classic, our generation’s Alien or Terminator. The fact that it was a debut film for it’s director made it all the more impressive, not to mention the incredible performance from first-time actor Sharlto Copley. It understood that sci-fi could provide spectacle at the same time as social commentary and compelling characters, while many films these days seem to feel that you can only provide one or two of these at a time.
Word on his follow-up, Elysium, has been sparse, but at the panel today in Hall H, Blomkamp (along with cast members Sharlto Copley, Matt Damon, Simon Kinberg, and Jodie Foster) unveiled seven minutes of footage (some of it still with rough effects) of his new epic, about the struggle in the future between the impoverished living on Earth, and the wealthy who have everything they will ever need in the extravagant space station Elysium. Damon, after an incident at work, discovers that he has less than a week to live, and if he wants to survive, he’s going to have to bust into Elysium, a feat that no one has ever accomplished. Naturally, hijinks ensue. Violent, violent hijinks.
Visually the film seemed a bit similar to District 9, but I’m okay with that, and it seemed to deviate when it hit the space station. With a great supporting cast that includes William Fichtner and Diego Luna, all of the performances look great. This is especially true of Sharlto Copley, who plays a bearded, armored, sword-wielding assassin sent after Damon’s character, who has also been equipped with a particularly uncomfortable-looking suit of exo-armor.
Honestly, so far Elysium has impressed me more than anything else at the con. While the panel itself was just alright, the footage was gorgeous. The action and performances look great, and it really seems as though Elysium is a film that will get you both cheering and thinking. It’s been a great couple years for sci-fi, and Blomkamp really seems to be leading that charge. Hearing the actors talk about him, they seem to believe that he has a great career ahead of him, and I can’t help but agree.
Also, there are some, like, ninja-star things that make people explode, which is pretty crazy and cool. And robot-cops, and Matt Damon bald with big guns, and did I mention that Sharlto Copley plays the bad-guy? If you’re not excited for this movie, I’m not sure that we can be friends.