Part of Sony Pictures’ two hour Hall H presentation at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is the gritty (we haven’t heard “gritty” in a while in regards to a movie, have we?) sci-fi film from the director of the most excellent District 9 – this time around it’s Matt Damon in the starring role of this “haves” vs. “have nots” tale that takes place in the future in Elysium.
Present at the panel are director Neill Blomkamp [NB] along with stars Matt Damon [MD] and Jodie Foster [JF], and producer Simon Kinberg [SK].
If you’re attending the convention, you can check out the panel yourself at 4:35 PM Pacific Time in Hall H (that’s the start time of the entire Sony panel). If not, keep it parked right here and for the latest on the film, brought to you live by Screen Rant.
I was here three years ago when we first met Neill Blomkamp on stage in Hall H, helped with Peter Jackson since it was NB’s first major, full-length film. That was for District 9. Today he’s here for his eagerly anticipated follow-up: Elysium.
NB: “what you’re looking at is footage itself from last year, cut together just for Comic-Con” (pre-vis level, grey-shaded low resolution stuff)
We just watched the first ever 7 minutes of Elysium footage and it may have stolen the day. Let’s just say Neill Blomkamp is rubbing it in that they should have made Halo with him. The Elysium space station LOOKS like a Halo ring. They even had a bubble shield.
In the footage we saw how and why Damon needs the mech exoskeleton. He only has a few days to live and he takes a job to get up to the Elysium station where there’s tech that can heal him.
Matt Damon: Instantly sold on working with NB after seeing District 9. He’d do any movie NB wanted, but NB brought so much detail and backstory, with books on weapons, vehicles, all detailing the universe for the film to their first chat about the movie.
The entire main cast is on stage, big cheers for Matt Damon. Jodie Foster: “After I saw District 9, I thought it was a perfect film.”
Back to the footage for a second, Sharlto Copley plays the Darth Maul of the movie. He also has mechanical enhancements, he wields a sword and he has a cool Halo-esque shield to block bullets. He’s hired by Foster’s character – the overseer of the Elysium station – to stop Damon.
Copley is getting big love from the fans in Hall H – rightfully so. He says he’s not going to cry on stage because he (jokingly) wants to maintain the badass of his character, but he’s very appreciative and loves being at Comic-Con.
NB says Elysium is the example, the blueprint for films he wants to make for years to come – Ones that have interesting, unique environments and offer social commentary.
The footage we saw had a TON of pre-vis stuff, totally not-made-yet CG scenes in space and with some of the vehicles, but the aesthetics of the mechs, landscapes and vehicles feel very much like District 9.
Matt Damon is teasing Neill on stage for having ALL the answers. Damon says he’d ask questions just for fun, and Blomkamp would have super-detailed, researched legit answers. (i.e. why is Elysium shaped like that? NB would answer by saying explaining the centrifugal force for the circular design for gravity, the angle towards the sun for power, and he referenced scientific theories, etc.)
NB says Jodie Foster’s character deals with the most green screen.
A lot of compliments for NB from Damon and Foster in how prepared and intelligent he is, in how he can make something that looks like a 0 million for a MUCH lesser budget.
The approach to making Elysium is the same as District 9 on every level. They shot on location in Mexico City, the same crew is back, they push every dollar to the limit.
NB: “This kind of insane realism only happens if you go there.”
They shot on the second biggest dump in the world, with dust made mostly of fecal matter and the crew wore respirator masks. Damon teases NB who always said “but the photography will look amazing” and it did – that’s what separates this type of filming to painted stages.
In one scene where Damon has to hide under pigs from a helicopter, the pigs got so riled up the closer the chopper came and when they put the stunt double in, the pigs were so scared they urinated all over him. It was his most difficult stunt work ever.
Team America. Matt Damon says “some people think that’s my best performance.”
Matt Damon: “Unfortunately, I can’t take any credit for Team America. I’d like to. Those guys are geniuses.”
Damon says Elysium has that desperation and momentum to it, because it’s a race against the clock since Damon’s character only has five days to live because of what happens to him.
Note the similarities to District 9′s protagonist – desperation to save oneself, momentum, physical transformation, etc.
That’s it for the Elysium panel. There’s a lot to look forward to with this one and District 9 fans will be blown away.
Keep an eye on the Screen Rant Comic-Con page for all the convention news.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.