Comic-Con 2012: 'Elysium' Footage Stuns in Hall H

Neill Blomkamp showed a seven-minute reel of "incredibly rough" but impressive video clips.
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Neill Blomkamp showed a seven-minute reel of "incredibly rough" but impressive video clips.

The world got its first look at Elysium, the follow-up sci-fi movie from Neill Blomkamp, who burst onto the film scene with District 9.
Blomkamp introduced a seven-minute reel, cautioning it was  “incredibly rough,” and saying that there's a sales aspect to the shilling of a film that he is uncomfortable with, making him wary of showing off footage to other people. But, he was OK with showing something at Comic-Con because, “it’s a true, honest thing. There’s no lies about it. It’s completely about want to seeing cool footage.”

And see cool footage they did.
Arguably the most impressive thing screened in Hall H so far, the reel showed a world that is overpopulated with the wealthy living in a space station orbiting the planet. The character played by Matt Damon, a steel worker living in slums, needs to get to the station, but in order to do that, must kidnap an Earthbound resident. Chases and action featuring robots ensue, as well as mechanical enhancement and Sharlto Copley as a villain.
The footage previewed a movie reminiscent to the dystopian world seen in District 9, with its slums and garbage dumps, and filled with menacing metallic authority -- human or robotic.
The world looks completely realized, which is something that Damon noted when talking about his first meeting with the filmmaker.
Damon, who came on the stage with Jodi Foster, Copley and producer Simon Kinberg, said Blomkamp first showed him a graphic novel on his computer outlining a very intricate story and world.  
“It was in such incredible detail. So arresting. And there was a whole corresponding book on weaponry and a whole book on vehicles,” said Damon.
Blomkamp also discussed the movies origins, saying it came from "an idea of a space station. In the film, the wealth was taken and separated from Earth, leaving an impoverished planet behind it."

The team talked of shooting the movie in Canada and Mexico, with the latter offering up health challenges.
At one point, they shot in the second largest garbage dump in the world -- with dust storms kicking up fecal matter. Blomkamp was forced to wear breaking masks; the actors… well, they were forced to endure.
Damon recalled how he and Copley shot their fight scenes. “We would be black with dust. And we would look at each other and say, ‘This is fecal matter,’" he said. "And Neill would come over, take off his maks, and say, ‘I promise you, the photography looks great!’"
Blomkamp also said that while his movies may feature a lot of green-screen and CGI, he is careful to limit its use to mostly background shots, leaving actors to interact with other actors.
“The situation that gets more dangerous if there’s acting against a digital creature. Anything non-human,” he said, referencing the tennis ball, which often acts as a stand-in for what will later become a fantasy or sci-fi creation. “That’s where you can run into trouble.”

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