Neill Blomkamp rocked our eyeballs with District 9, so expectations are high for his second movie Elysium. We just attended a press preview, where we saw a brand new trailer, plus some other new footage. Here are our first impressions.
The trailer is a set-up for the entire film, and includes some high quality shots of the lovely living quarters in the space habitat Elysium. Think Halo with swimming pools, and loads of skinny white people. [Side note: we wonder if this is what Blomkamp's Halo would have looked like.]
This also sets the scene for the first We Missed You Neill moment. A gorgeous woman is seen lounging in a Versace-esque body scanner. Whilst she's in the futuristic tanning bed-like contraption, her body is probed by a laser. The machine then announces, "traces of cancer discovered." A new set of lasers glide over the woman, and her skin puckers. It's REMOVING her cancer. "Cancer Free," the machine bleeps (or something akin to that.) I don't know exactly what it said — because I was too busy smashing my face with a hammer out of sheer despair that Neill Blomkamp can't just make all of the science fiction movies right now. All this from a trailer, which will be out tomorrow.
The bulk of the footage that was screened takes place back on Earth, not the luxurious Elysium. As you can imagine, Earth sucks. It's overcrowded with the less-than-desirables who can't afford to pay their way into a better life, among the stars. Earth isn't just an overpopulated mess teaming with sickness and dirt, it's also completely wrecked from (we're assuming) pollution. The only terrain we get a look at is a desert.
The day-to-day life on future Earth is pretty terrible as well. We follow Max (played by the bald Matt Damon) through his dangerous job, where he's constantly badgered, manipulated and has his pay docked. Think In Time, if In Time was actually set in a plausible reality. Max just can't catch a break — but thankfully, with Damon behind the wheel we're already seeing a range of desperation and anger building up behind his sweat-covered brow. Shit is about to hit the fan for Max.
One particularly brilliant moment showcases Max arguing with the frozen face of Elysium's Big Boy-channeling realtor robot. "You seem agitated," the computer says. "Would you like a pill?" And just like that a filthy tray with an assortment of rainbow colored pellets appears. Max is pissed.
But back to the fan-hitting. At work, Max is given an ultimatum when he loses something important inside the machine he operates. Go inside and risk your health to fix the problem, or pack up your shit and leave. Max concedes, and the next thing you know he's trapped in some sort of a Watchmen/Hulk situation. But instead of getting superhuman strength, Max gets a fatal illness. A robot wakes him up, throws a bottle of pills at him and chirps, "You have five days to live, thank you for your service."
This is when things shifts from the crappy middle-class existence to the even dirtier underbelly of Earth's black market. With only a few days to live, Max realizes he needs to get to the sexy tanning beds of Elysium, or die in the dust on Earth. And he's willing to do anything to get there. Cue William Fichtner, and his baller-ass Bugatti spaceship.