Though I was highly anticipating all of the panels in Hall H today, easily the most potentially exciting one was the reveal of Elysium, the new movie from Neill Blomkamp, writer/director of 2009′s fantastic District 9. Information has been pretty scarce about this new sci-fi adventure, but today, all was revealed. Or, at least, everything necessary was revealed to make Elysium the new most-anticipated movie of 2013.
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Blomkamp‘s cinematic mainstay and good friend Sharlto Copley, Elysium tells the story of a futuristic Earth that has been allowed to fall into disrepair, disease, and decay by the wealthy of the world, who have escaped to the utopian space station orbiting Earth, Elysium. Damon plays an ex-criminal trying to clear his record who is exposed to a deadly dose of radiation, and the only place with the technology to cure him before he dies (in 5 days, apparently) is Elysium itself. The details of how Damon manages to get up to Elysium are still a little shady, even after seeing the footage that we did, although it appears to involve him going back into the criminal world he’s been trying to extricate himself from for years now. Regardless of vagueness, this was easily the most interesting story and panel of the day.
The panel started with a screening of nine minutes of the film in what amounted to a heavily-extended trailer. It was intense, and amazing, and lots of other adjectives that convey strong, positive emotions. Blomkamp‘s distinct visual style is in fine form, with the ravaged planet Earth seemingly lacking any vegetation whatsoever, engulfed as it is in a brownish-grey coating of misery. My only problem with it was that, honestly, I felt as though they showed too much. I understand that to any fans, this must seem like blasphemy, but honestly, I felt like I watched the entire movie in those nine minutes. It was…weird. Like, I want revealed footage to hype the movie, not tell me exactly what’s going to happen for the first two-thirds of it. I mean, am I glad I saw it? Of course. Does it seem like they could have shown us the entire flippin’ movie and it wouldn’t have been that much different? Also yes. It was awesome, but I mean, cmon. Be coy about it.
The most enjoyable thing about having Damon, Foster, Blomkamp, Copley, and producer Simon Kinberg on a panel together is that they handily proved that intelligent people are the most interesting, well-spoken, most professional people on Earth. Each of them not only knows their craft but is also able to talk extensively about it, as well as why they do it. Although the entire panel was interesting, some highlight moments included: Damon and Blomkamp describing the most disgusting and challenging stunt shot they had to do for the film, involving pigs, feces sandstorms, and urine; Damon and Foster‘s faces lighting up while talking about the script and how much they love doing what they do; and Sharlto Copley doing the voice and mannerisms for his classic character from District 9, Wikus Van De Merwe, asking Blomkamp and Executive Producer Peter Jackson to do a sequel, because he was having trouble getting a job.
At the end of the day, this was the perfect panel to close with because of the sheer passion everybody had for the project. It was obvious that this is something that they all love and believe in. It was a really great experience.
Elysium is slated for release sometime in 2013.
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