By Edward Davis | The Playlist April 5, 2013 at 2:05PM
After the fantastically inventive "District 9," director Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" should be one of the most anticipated sci-films of 2013. And it is in many quarters, including ours -- see our Most Anticipated Films of 2013 list -- but it's clear that the momentum for the film has cooled, and the "will this movie ever come out" feeling has even registered.
Part of it is that "Elysium" was supposed to arrive last month, but late last year Blomkamp's movie was bumped to August, the same frame that made a surprise success out of "District 9." But the film is in the can and just waiting, something that seems to have even frustrated its filmmaker. "It’s kind of weird that it sits on a shelf and doesn’t come out until August 9th but I think a summer release is fantastic for the film," Blomkamp said earlier this year.
Sony will have to rebuild their campaign this summer, but they are already starting early as press days and pre-Comic Con sneak peeks are being unveiled soon, demonstrating that the company knows it needs to reboot the awareness on the movie earlier than usual (if it appears in San Diego again this will make two Comic-Con appearances for the film, illustrating the drawn-out nature of its release).
Starring Matt Damon, "Elysium" is another high-minded sci-fi picture with the same kinds of social concerns that preoccupied "District 9." In this dystopic future, set in 2159, penned again by Blomkamp, Earth has become an abused, overpopulated garbage can. The planet, rotting and filthy, has been depleted of most of its resources, and the wealthy class live on "Elysium," a space station orbiting the planet with all the modern-day luxuries the upper class could want. But the 99% are on earth, and the inequities of power and class lines have never been more evident. It's a fantastic premise, feeding into the recent Occupy Wall Street sentiment, and Damon stars as a nobody who has to get to Elysium in order to save the life of a loved one. This sets off a chain of events and the social order is upended when news breaks out of this rogue man crossing class lines for proper medicare.
This is all a long way of saying that "Elysium" has been kept under wraps for a long time. We've seen only a handful of photos of Damon and the movie's antagonist Sharlto Copley, and that might be because the script and log lines leaked months in advance, making the studio and filmmakers feel burnt and gun shy. But two new photos from the film have surfaced on the eve of these upcoming New York and L.A. sneak peaks. One is a first look of Alice Braga ("Predators," City Of God,") in the movie, and the other is of Damon and Wagner Moura inspecting something on the actor's head.
Can "Elysium" make up the lost ground in August? We assume so, but we won't be surprised if it's marketed like a traditional actiony sci-fi film over something with more substance. That said, Blomkamp has already proven that he can deliver intelligent commentary that doesn't come at the expense of tentpole thrills. Also co-starring Jodie Foster and Carly Pope, "Elysium" launches into theaters on August 9th.