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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.
Sharlto Copley Elysium

They shot ruined Earth on the outskirts of Mexico City and the lavish scenes on Elysium in Vancouver (enhanced by VFX from Weta Digital, Image-Engine, which worked on "District 9") and found interesting parallels in terms of class divisions."I'm a visual artist first, " Blomkamp continued. "It's like a western, graveyard kind of Lockheed mind that comes up with this kind of stuff."

But the director said he isn't irresponsible enough to use a popcorn movie to try and make a difference politically. He'd make a documentary if that were his intention. Yet he believes there's nothing wrong with playing with real issues within the backdrop of a unique world and a popular genre. "It's a mirror of how the West is with immigration," he explained. "A lot of people want to help out the rest of the world.... Other people want to close the borders."

This is what makes Blomkamp so exciting as a filmmaker -- the way he combines iconic images with compelling, if witty, narratives as a visual stylist -- and what draws talent to him.

For Damon's part (who participated in the event via a video hookup from Germany), he said he was blown away by "District 9" and jumped at the chance to work with Blomkamp. He was particularly impressed by the director's detailed book of concept art that laid it all out and enabled him to fully embrace the physical challenge of the role.

Meanwhile, Sharlto Copley, the impressive hero of "District 9," returns to play a baddie, the black opps undercover officer assigned to stop Damon. Copley admitted that after working so hard in "District 9" to steer clear of the villainous South African stereotype, he found himself embracing that very stereotype in "Elysium." However, even though this new movie was much more tightly scripted, in the end, his director buddie let him improvise to transform the baddie into something much more unique because of his unpredictable energy.

"You let the Sharlto be Sharlto." And evidently you let the Blomkamp be Blomkamp.

Check out an in-depth analysis of the "Elysium" trailer here.

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

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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.