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Immersed in Movies UPDATE: 'Elysium' Trailer Lands, Plus Previewing Blomkamp's Dystopian Sci-Fi Film

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood April 10, 2013 at 12:39PM

At a Comic-Con-style presentation this morning at The Grove, we finally caught a glimpse of Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," the ambitious sci-fi follow-up to his acclaimed indie hit, "District 9," which opens August 9. The trailer (watch below) and additional 10 minutes of socially-conscious, high-octane action didn't disappoint.
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Matt Damon in 'Elysium'
Matt Damon in 'Elysium'

At a Comic-Con style presentation this morning at The Grove, we finally caught a glimpse of Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," the ambitious sci-fi follow-up to his acclaimed indie hit, "District 9," which opens August. 9. The trailer (watch below) and additional 10 minutes of socially-conscious, high-octane action didn't disappoint.

Despite the allure of major stars (Matt Damon and Jodie Foster) and bigger studio toys worth $120 million, Blomkamp has not compromised his personal vision; he's merely broadened his imaginative scope. "Elysium" is a grander version of "District 9," only here the have and have-nots are divided by the wealthy inhabitants of a Bel Air-inspired space station and Earth, which has been reduced to a shambles.

Fittingly, after ushering in the popular dystopian trend with "District 9" in 2009 (and snagging a best picture Oscar nomination), Blomkamp has managed to stay ahead of the competition with his visual brilliance and idiosyncratic storytelling. True to his South African roots, though, the director still embraces such hot button issues as immigration, health care, class disparity, and the environment.

It's 2154 and living on Earth in total poverty is a death sentence. Imagine the South African shanty town horror of "District 9" magnified to almost "Wall-E"-like devastation. Damon plays a bald blue collar worker desperate to get to Elysium (overseen politically by Foster) to save his life. But in exchange for his way out with the aid of grungy military armor, he must get a hold of the secret intel that will help destroy Elysium and save the planet.

"In here and in 'District 9,' proper science was thrown out the window a little bit in favor of metaphor and story," Blomkamp suggested. "Building a space station was like marble and slate [and not the best idea]. But the metaphor of Bel Air in space is correct. So my approach is to start out with something ridiculous and then try and use the most realistic portrayal of the ridiculous as you can. So I'm painting ridiculous ideas with a brush of realism."

This article is related to: Immersed In Movies, Video, Video, Matt Damon, Elysium, Trailers, Trailers, Neill Blomkamp


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.