Blomkamp’s Elysium has epic written all over it

Neill Blomkamp took the world by storm with District 9 three years ago, and blow me down if he's not poised to do it all over again with his follow-up, Elysium.

The South African director returned to Comic-Con on Friday itching to show footage from his latest movie.

After the sweet, sincere little genius read from his notes warning us that the reel was incomplete and how further effects work was required, he unleashed a nine-minute assembly that was the best preview footage this semi-jaded ol' correspondent has ever seen.

Blomkamp has kept the verité-style approach and transferred it to a story that has epic written all over it, in 72-point capitalised Helvetica script. If D9, as the Elysium cast seemed to like calling it, was a parable about racism then E, as I have told friends I will call it when the movie comes out next March, examines the plight of the haves and have-nots.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, Earth has become an over-populated disease incubator where impoverished humans scrap away on the surface, while high above them the filthy rich have decamped to an orbiting hamster wheel of a space station where everything appears to be hunky-dory.

That is, until a shaven-headed Matt Damon gets sick and must break all the rules – travel guidelines, rules of etiquette: you name it, he might just break it – to get to Elysium. Jodie Foster looks sinister, pacing a command platform of sorts high up in space and muttering into a headset, while D9 star Sharlto Copley is back, and this time you're not going to root for him, trust me. All in all, stunning stuff.

'Perfect film'
The three actors joined Blomkamp on stage in the massive, 6 000-seater Hall H, where Comic-Con puts all the Hollywood fare.

Damon said he regarded Blomkamp as among the best, while Foster revealed that D9 was "a perfect film".

Copley, well, he was just getting a kick out of being there, damnit.

Elysium was part of a Sony Pictures presentation that ran on for more than two hours.

Earlier in the session they showed footage from Looper, the time-travel action sci-fi from Brick director Rian Johnson.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars alongside Emily Blunt as a hit man who knocks off victims from the future after they get sent back to him.

One day he is required to assassinate his future self, played by none other than Bruce Willis. Said veteran couldn't join the proceedings as he was in eastern Europe shooting A Good Day to Die Hard, which sounds like it was conceived on a Bad Day to Name Movies.

"Trying to embody Bruce fucking Willis is no small feat," Gordon-Levitt told the massed ranks. Blunt was a little more elegant in her expression. "I feel this is the best movie I have been a part of," she said, which made the executives at FilmDistrict, who will release Looper on September 28 and were sitting next to me, very happy indeed. The footage looked slick, stylised and sexy.

We also got to see several sequences from the Total Recall reboot. I was a huge fan of the original boot from 1990, although, truth be told, age has not been kind to it, so let's see how this one turns out. The crowd lapped it up. Director Len Wiseman does not take the action to Mars and sets everything on earth, which has been rendered into a hostile, steamy urban sprawl highly reminiscent of Blade Runner. Meanwhile the interiors and cops in white body armour bear the stamp of Star Wars.

The movie's star, Colin Farrell, was at pains to point out in the Q&A session that he was not attempting to step into the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The notion of footwear hangs heavily on Wiseman's movie. His wife Kate Beckinsale plays Lori, the duplicitous spouse character made famous by Sharon Stone. It looks like they've given Beckinsale more to do by fusing her Lori with the essence of Michael Ironside's character from the original.

Another husband-and-wife team graced the stage on Friday as the session kicked off with footage from Paul WS Anderson's Resident Evil: Retribution starring his missus, Milla Jovovich. "I feel this is definitely the beginning of the end," Anderson said, cryptically, after he presented the trailer and a couple of minutes from a climactic fight scene involving Jovovich's character.

"Paul told me once about an idea he had for Resident Evil 6," Jovovich revealed, while Anderson looked for all the world like a man who wished he was in possession of a device that could put uttered words back into the mouths of those who had uttered them, thus rendering them un-uttered. He started it so what did he expect? – © Guardian News and Media 2012

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