When District 9 hit cinemas in 2009, it was a shock to a system accustomed to vacuous blockbusters of no greater purpose than product placement; it was science fiction, it had explosions, but it was also about race relations, exploitation and segregation of the working underclass, even slaves, into ghettos. Writer/director Neill Blompkamp’s new film, Elysium, has four times the budget, and with it commensurately larger expectations, though stylistically and thematically it seems cut from the same cloth, despite the presence of the major Hollywood talent involved. Here, the Geek Chocolate writers offer their first opinions of the trailer.
Samuel Read – Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was fantastic, both in terms of its narrative and aesthetics. It touched on so many themes (corporate power, racism, space aliens) and wound them together with some stonking action and no little humour. From the trailer it seems a number of these themes may also be present here, but with a blockbuster cast and budget; an exciting prospect indeed.
I’m personally of the belief that Matt Damon is an excellent action lead, who tends to bring significantly more weight to his roles than most tend to deserve. And Jodie Foster could effortlessly turn reading the phonebook into the most gripping thing ever to grace celluloid, so all things considered this could well be one of the most interesting releases in a year of interesting releases.
Michael Flett – The opening shots of Elysium itself, the beautiful futuristic architecture rising above scrubland remind me very much of the opening shots of Serenity, where we see the Parliament, but when it gets going, the style is unmistakably Neill Blomkamp. He hasn’t really changed since District 9, but that’s not necessarily a problem, as that was a fine debut feature and he could teach a lot of more experienced directors about telling a story.
I like both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, who in her sole previous science fiction role made one of my utter absolute favourite films of all time, Contact… though I suppose Flight Plan required so much suspension when the final reveal of what was happening was made it practically qualifies as science fiction. Both of them are looking great, I love Jodie’s new hair, and I have no concerns about their performance, nor of Sharlto Copley, so good in District 9 as Wikus, Alice Braga, who usually ends up in films far below her talent, William Fichtner, also of Contact but probably best recognised from The Dark Knight, Faran Tahir, Captain Robau of the USS Kelvin, and the brilliant Diego Luna, a very experienced actor and also a director in his own right.
The story seems to be another angle of what Blomkamp did in District 9, class divide, very topical, and good to see him not shying away from it and making something vapid despite the big guns his budget now allows him, I just hope he carries it through and doesn’t cop out. Not sure about the line “You can save everyone” – seems to me to be an awful lot of people to be saving, but good luck to ya, Matt.
I read a comment elsewhere about it looking like Escape from New York, but I can’t see that, though I do see a superficial resemblance toLockout from last year, but this looks better in every respect.
The effects are top notch, looking like a modern drama rather than a science fiction film, which can only be a strength – I thought of the helicopters in Zero Dark Thirty watching this. We caught the trailer for Olympus Has Fallen the other week, and the effects were so amateur it was embarrassing. This, by comparison, looks like something real that has been caught on camera rather than a post production effect. I also noticed a, perhaps unavoidable, reminder of 2001 in the shot of Elysium, floating above the Earth.
Les Anderson – Watching this on a tiny screen with no sound, the visuals alone have me excited. This looks very intriguing and strongly reminiscent of District 9. As long as it doesn’t share the structural problems that District 9 had this could be a winner. Perhaps Matt’s exoskeleton has a little too much Borg drone about it but Jodie looks commanding. I am really looking forward to this.
Glenn Jones – I watched it…wow, I loved it! The trailer makes the movie look badass! It has a quality of Battlestar Galactica about it which can only be a good thing. I hope the movie itself lives up to the trailer!
Owen Williams – I really enjoyed District 9, but find it a little unnerving that a director with a single credit under his belt costing $30 million (which he used exceptionally well) to a movie like this at with a budget of $120 million in one giant leap. Will he turn out to be the next big thing in SF or will his career go along the lines of M. Night Shymilymilaymealan?
To be honest I found the trailer a little patronising. I dislike trailers where they feel they have to Spell Out The Plot. It’s as if the producers aren’t quite certain that the audience will be able to figure out what’s going on. I am sure they could have done something better as the central idea to it is quite decent, and not that complicated. I am really hoping that there is more to this movie than what we have here which looks like it’s going to be promoted as a gung ho action flick that could be starring Christopher Lambert if it had distinctly less budget.
The special effects look amazing, although I am not too sure about the “exo-suit” that Matt Damon is wearing. It looks a bit Guyver-ish. The contrast between Elysium perfection and Earth reality (the latter which looks like outtakes from District 9) is the most interesting part. Whilst I have high hopes that this film will not turn out entirely as it is shown here and that Blomkamp hasn’t immediately thrown his political commentary out of the window at the merest taste of success, as far as the trailer itself goes it hasn’t really increased my interest in the movie. It’s also telling about who this trailer is aimed at that Jodie Foster contributes the word “welcome” to the entire trailer, whilst the rest of it is slow-mo action and things going boom. Here’s hoping that subsequent trailers feature her a little more.
– I don’t like it, but I recognise it’s because I don’t like Matt Damon as an actor. I don’t think I’ve ever liked a single film he’s done. It reminds me a bit of In Time, with the class divide, even The Time Machine, this could be similar to the early stages of the Eloi and the Morlocks. It looks like it is going to be a standard science fiction action film, with people flying around and car chases and explosions, but there is an important message behind it, and this needs not to be overlooked in the studio’s desire to please the audience and make lots of money.
I want to see this be an honest political statement, like District 9, which despite it’s flaws was a film with something to say, not a two hour car chase, something to keep the multiplex audiences happy rather than inspiring them to go out and riot and chance the system.