A ‘sequel’ I actually want to see: District 9 follow-up ELYSIUM

One of my favorite films of the last decade was the low-budget sci-fi movie District 9. In my review, I said that it’s such a distinctly moving, poignant and provocative film that makes you ponder long after the end credits roll.

Not long after I saw the film, there’s immediate buzz for an inevitable sequel, which I talked about here, but that was three years ago! It’s certainly taken a while to materialize but Variety reports that SONY has secured a release date of March 1, 2013. Now, with the recent casting news of the South African actor Sharlto Copley as the villain for the American remake of Park Chan-wook’s Korean action thriller Oldboy, it seems like a good time as any to update you on:

ELYSIUM


Plot and Production Notes

Like a Christopher Nolan movie, the plot is shrouded in secrecy. Per Deadline, the movie will have the social allegory theme like in District 9, but done in a much bigger scale, set 100 years in the future. However, /Film reported this interview with the film’s producer Simon Kinberg that “… [the sequel is] a very different movie than anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s not necessarily an alien movie … Visually, stylistically it’s actually very different than District 9.”

Hmmm, what does he mean it’s not necessarily an alien movie?? I wonder if he meant that it’s more than just a genre film, much like 28 Days Later is NOT just a zombie movie, or that the film is dealing with something else entirely?

I presume those reading this article knows that at the end of D-9, the protagonist Wikus van der Merwe has transformed into this prawn-like alien being. The ending seems to lend itself to a sequel, but it sounds like the sequel doesn’t pick up the story where it left off.

South African director Neill Blomkamp is back at the helm and has hired famed set designer Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Aliens) to design the set for this film. The budget has jumped from $35 mil for D-9 to roughly $120 mil for Elysium [per THR]. Filming has wrapped last December and is now in post-production work. As Peter Jackson was the executive producer of D-9, his company WETA is now involved in the conceptual design and various special effects for this film.

Casting

One thing for sure, I’m looking forward to seeing Copley teaming up with D-9 director Neill Blomkamp again.

Mr. Copley’s star-power has risen considerably since starring in that film, though he’s only been seen in The A-Team since then. I think he’s perfectly capable in carrying a movie on his own, as he did in D-9, in fact I liked him so much that I wrote this article on how a lot of Hollywood A-listers can learn from him.

Well, two A-listers have in fact joined the cast: Jodie Foster and Matt Damon.

Damon had this to say just before filming started:

I’ve never done anything quite like this and I kind of responded to what’s out there and what’s in and what’s good. The movie is going to be good, he showed me basically the entire world which he’s going to build and it’s really, really exciting. And I can’t wait! – per MovieWeb

Jodie Foster is said to be playing a leader of an alien planet. She revealed to TotalFilm that the main reason she signed on to the film was because it was a chance to work with Blomkamp.

“Yes, definitely. He did District 9, which I think is as close to a perfect movie as you can get … It’s just an extraordinary film. And, this film has a lot of that social commentary in it, but uses sci-fi to get there. It’s great.”

There’s no news yet what role Matt Damon will be playing but judging from this Vancouver set photos of him with a shaved head wearing a prison jumpsuit and has some sort of futuristic weapon thing-y strapped on him, my guess is he’s an ex-con who managed to escape?

Anyway, the rest of the Internationally-diverse cast includes Mexican actor Diego Luna, Brazilians Wagner Moura and Alice Braga, and go-to New Yorker character actor William Fichtner.

Viral Campaign

What’s brilliant about D-9 is the bizarre but brilliant ‘Non-Human’ viral marketing campaign. Now virtually every major movie, for better for worse, have employed similar strategy. /Film posted this poster on the right spotted at Comic-con last year that points to a website with this video clip below. Basically it’s a recruitment video by a fake company called Armadyne seeking “zero g welders, mega-structure engineers, quantum networkers and experts in zero g coupling and multi-generational planning,” in order to accomplish “the most ambitious project ever undertaken by mankind.” Take a look at the video below from the ‘official’ company website:

… 

I hope the trailer is released soon. I do hope that Copley will have a prominent role here instead of being completely sidelined by Damon. What I like about the first one is how completely believable he was as Wikus and the strong emotional connection I had with the character. Now, both A-listers here are obviously very talented actors, so I’m optimistic in that regard. I’m also hopeful that the 31-year-old Blomkamp is more than a one hit wonder.


Are you a fan of District-9? If so, what do you think of this project so far? 

44 thoughts on “A ‘sequel’ I actually want to see: District 9 follow-up ELYSIUM

  1. I’m excited for this because of all the people involved and because District 9 was my favorite film released that year. With that said, are we sure this is a sequel to that film? I clicked on some of the links you provided and none of them actually say that. Of course the plot is still being kept secret so there’s still a chance it is a sequel, but for now it looks to be a separate film. That doesn’t diminish my excitement though. Bring it on!

    1. Yeah I realize it’s not necessarily a ‘sequel’, just a follow-up to D-9 as it’s the same genre that deals w/ a similar theme. I was really hoping it would be a sequel though, or at least the plot is connected somehow.

  2. Ted S.

    Was it confirmed that this film was a sequel to District 9? I thought it’s a totally different movie, but good to know it’s finally have a release date. I’ve seen those photos of shaved head Damon a while back and was wondering when the film was coming out. That’s a cool viral video.

    I’m one of the few that wasn’t that impressed with District 9, I thought the first half of the movie was great but when it turned into The Fly/Robocop/Rambo in the second half, it sort of lost me. I do like Neill Blomkamp a lot as a director, he made a $30mil film looked like it cost $100mil to make.

    Definitely looking forward to this one.

    1. With the secrecy around the plot, it’s still possible the plot is connected or maybe the fake giant corporations are linked somehow, like the Alien universe y’know. I mean look at Prometheus, there’s all this debate whether it’s a prequel or not when clearly there are similar elements in both.

      Ahah, I didn’t get The Fly/Robocop/Rambo vibe from the second half like you at all. I was completely engrossed in Wikus’ transformation and all the ordeal he went through. But I agree about the look of the film, it certainly looked more expensive than $30 mil.

      1. Ted S.

        To me Prometheus is prequel to the previous Alien films, I don’t care if the studio and Ridley Scott are insisting that it is a “original” film. From all those trailers, it looks just like the other Alien movies. Let’s hope it’s as good as part 1 and 2.

        He’s turned into another specie which is similar to The Fly, then he got into this robot suit which reminds me of Robocop then of course the big shootout near the end where blew away all those soldiers which reminded me of Rambo films. I guess I just didn’t expect it to be an action movie in the second half. But I really liked the first half of the film.

        1. Ahah, well you made an excellent argument, but when I was watching the film, it didn’t strike me that way 🙂 I thought the ending was utterly heart wrenching, for me anyway.

  3. Yea, I’m not sure that this is going to be an actual sequel. Maybe a spiritual successor? But I don’t care either way because I have every confidence in Blomkamp. Well, two things that bothered me about this are WETA only doing some of the effects, and the 4x jump in the budget. I always trot out District 9 as the best example of how to do a great movie for not a lot of money. I hope this time the effects don’t take a hit for being outsourced to a bunch of companies or something.

    1. Very true, Sir, more money doesn’t always mean a better movie. I sure hope this will still have all the things I love about D-9 and more!

  4. “District 9” is one of those rarities, a science fiction movie that’s intelligent and has more to say than just going ‘sploidy (as opposed to SF books that have done this for decades). The problem I had with it, though, is that it literally made me sick watching it. By the end of the movie, I had an upset stomach. I appreciate the film, but I didn’t enjoy it. That said, from the sound of it, “Elysium” is a cool sequel, and a model that the studios should emulate. Like Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” in relation to “Alien,” it exists in the same continuity as the original film, but does not need to adhere to a formula of plot. They’re taking the situation and seeing what else can be done with it for dramatic purposes. What other social commentary can be said through this story? If more of these kind of sequels were made, then people wouldn’t be screaming so much every time one was announced.

    1. Y’know, I’m actually VERY squeamish so I was surprised that I actually saw this on the big screen without being sick to my stomach like you said. Of course I closed my eyes during some of the really nauseating scenes, but I really felt for Wikus’ plight, somehow I really sympathized with his character, more than I did with any other sci-fi movie character.

      You are spot on about your comment about the ‘sequel’ being more of a ‘continuation’ of the concept, not necessarily the storyline. That gives me hope that this one will still feel original even if it shares similar themes/elements of D-9.

      1. The weird thing is that it wasn’t the gore that made me sick (I can usually handle gory movies), but just the overall feeling from the movie. “Total Recall” did the same thing for me.

  5. I thought I read somewhere that this is an independent film, not a sequel. Either way I’m very excited! Great cast and will be interesting to see what Blomkamp can do with a bigger budget. If this is a standalone film, I really hope we do get a sequel to D9 soon!

    1. It remains to be seen just how connected this is w/ D-9, my gut says there’ll be some ties between the two, well other than the director and lead actor. Like Jamie said above, I’m hoping it’ll be similar to how Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” has some relations w/ “Alien.”

  6. Looking forward to this one, whatever it is. I really wonder what that jump in budget will do to the visuals on this one. If the first one could look so good with a relatively small budget, just imagine what it could look like.

  7. “its a much different film”… maybe it’ll be like how different James Cameron’s Aliens was compared to Ridley Scott’s Alien

  8. Great article! I didn’t even know they are making the sequel to this one. Jodie Foster starring in it will certainly get me to watch it, I just hope it will be better than her last sci-fi adventure in “Contact”.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah McConaughey was totally miscast in that role but the movie itself was pretty darn good. I remember seeing it in the theater and didn’t want it to end.

  9. This seems like it will be a sequel only in name because how can a movie set 100 years after the first one and being so different be a sequel lol. But yea solid cast and I can’t wait to see what Blomkamp is going to do to follow up District 9.

    1. I figure since Wikus becomes an alien at the end, he might actually live for hundreds of years 😉 But yeah, excited for this nonetheless.

  10. Rock on, Ruth! Now I am even more excited for this movie. It will be interesting to see what Blomkamp does with a significantly higher budget.

  11. I’m just hoping they don’t ruin all the good work started in District 9 by going overboard with Elysium – making it bigger and spending more money on it doesn’t make it better….. Jackson should have learned that from King Kong….

      1. I loved Jackson’s “King Kong” and think that it doesn’t get much respect because due to backlash from the success of “Lord of the Rings.” How dare he try to remake a classic such as that? It actually did better than you probably think. Domestically, it earned $218,080,025 (according to Boxoffice Mojo), which I would say is a pretty good haul. The problem is that the budget was $207 million, so when you take into account P&A, the bottom line didn’t look too healthy. However, when you add in international sales, the total worldwide gross was $550,517,357, so it still made a hefty profit (not counting DVD sales and rentals). Critically, it was a success as it garnered a Rotten Tomatoes score of 84% (from 257 reviews) and a Metacritic score of 81% (from 39 reviews). But for some reason, the Internet loves to hate on that film.

  12. OOh! I like! Thanks for posting this and the trailer! I want to see this!

    Damon, Foster, and more?! this looks great.

    I’ll tell you what I really want to see…a live-action HALO movie. District 9 was supposed to be that until negotiations and deals fell through. It’d be great to have a movie with Master Chief!

    1. Glad you like! Yeah the cast is great even though just having Copley is good enough for me 🙂

      I’m not a gamer so I have no clue what HALO is about 🙂

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