Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi thriller ELYSIUM’s Poster & Trailer Spotlight

Boy oh boy! I’ve been looking forward to this film for quite some time now. In case you didn’t know already, I’m a huge fan of District 9 which was a surprise to me as I didn’t even know much about it when I saw it on the big screen. Well, it’s been over three years since I saw that film and finally, South African director Neill Blomkamp and actor Sharlto Copley are re-teaming for another sci-fi thriller.

I was kind of hoping that Copley would have the leading role this time around, but I understand that with a much-bigger budget, they’d need a movie star. So we’ve got Matt Damon in the lead instead. Check out the awesome poster of him with all that robotic stuff attached all over his body!


I originally thought this was a follow-up to District 9, as I’ve outlined on my Upcoming Flix Spotlight post a year ago. But now it’s clear that this film has a new storyline that’s not related to D-9 universe, though it still carries a similar social issue theme. Now, this film was first scheduled for release in March before being pushed back to August. I don’t think it’s a sign of trouble though, I think that’d give Blomkamp to release some viral marketing for it like he did for D-9 which was a smart move.

Now finally, a trailer!!

WHOAH!! I’m even more intrigued now after seeing this. I really like the look of this and the apocalyptic story looks very promising and thought provoking, with all the visual and thematic elements every sci-fi lovers would love. Blomkamp is working again with Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital so it’s to be expected that the special effect is going to rock! Even right off the bat, I like the stark contrast between the perfect world of the Elysium space station and the left-behind slum that is the Earth. I read that Blomkamp shot the Earth footage in Mexico City, and everything on Elysium in Vancouver.

Per IGN, like Blomkamp’s previous film, this one has a similarly impoverished and segregated society, but this time along economic lines rather than species. Where District 9 was a sci-fi allegory for racism, Elysium is about economic disparity.

In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes, a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

Here are four more details I learned from this HitFix article, which summarized the SONY press preview event in L.A. with Blomkamp, Copley and producer Simon Kinberg:

  • Damon’s character is Max, an ex-con who’s working a factory job on Earth. A radiation leak prompted him to be cast off by the authoritarian government. He knows the only way to get rid of the toxic radiation is in Elysium, and he has to find a way to get there.
  • The robotic stuff on his body, and that data port on his head is the result of self-modification Max did as a mechanism to hijack security information from an Elysium citizen.
  • Sharlto Copley plays the bad guy, Kruger. He is an Elysium operative who lives on Earth, waiting to be activated. When an attack on an Elysium citizen occurs, he gets the signal.
  • Jodie Foster plays a Senator, as Foster herself described in Movieline as “… the person who controls who gets to come in [to Elysium] and who doesn’t. She’s methodical, her antagonism has a point.” She also mentions that Elysium is an international place, as its residents comes from all over the earth.
  • Blomkamp said that 2/3 of the film would take place on earth and 1/3 in Elysium to emphasize further that the space station is truly a fantastical place every human being aspire to live in.

Elysium is out in theaters on August 9, 2013. I can hardly wait!

On a related note, two years ago, I wrote this post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama pitch where some humans live in another planet whilst the remaining earth population struggle to survive.
Check it out and let me know what you think 😀

Are you as stoked as I am about this one? What do you think of the trailer?

Weekend Roundup: The Secret of Kells and Gladiator re-watch

The calendar says it’s April. Spring? What Spring??

Hope it’s much sunnier where you are as it’s quite wet and gloomy here. In fact, looking at the 10-days forecast is quite depressing, full of rain/snow mix with temps barely making it out of 50 degrees! 😦

In any case, I didn’t make it to the theaters this weekend. As you know, I’d never go see Evil Dead 2 even if someone paid me! So here are what I saw this weekend:

The Secret of Kells (2009)

SecretOfKellsFor some reason this Irish-French-Belgian animated feature eluded me, even though it was one of the Best Animated Feature nominees in 2010. It definitely deserves such kudos!

Set in the eighth century, this film is a fictionalized account of the creation of the Book of Kells, the illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels. The story follows 12-year-old Brendan (voice of Evan McGuire) as he battles Vikings and confronts an ancient serpent god on a mission to locate a legendary crystal and complete the mythical Book of Kells.

A rare spiritually-tinged animated feature that’s rich in Celtic mythology and folklore. It’s so beautifully-crafted and instantly involving that within seconds I was whisked away into Brendan’s world. I love the flat look of the hand-drawn animation, somehow it adds to its ethereal quality. After having seen the more slick animated features with all the bells and whistles, it’s actually refreshing to see the simplicity of this feature, it’s just mesmerizing and beautiful to behold. Some of the drawings are as intricate as churches’ stained glass windows, which is appropriate given the subject matter.


Brendan lives a sheltered life, forbidden by his uncle, Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) to go outside the gateway. But when he secretly sneaks into the forest to look for gall nuts to make ink, that’s when his adventure begins. There he meets Aisling (pronounced like Ashley), a fairy of sort who’s able to take many forms. She’s ever so cute and bewitching, and their friendship is sweet and lovely. The story at times descend into surreal, even abstract form, and though I don’t always understand the details of what’s happening, I still enjoyed the ride. The Celtic music has a transcendental quality about it, especially the Aisling song “You must go where I cannot…” composed by Bruno Coulais.


There are some tense and perhaps even terrifying moments that might scare off the very young ones though, the black and red color schemes during the attack scenes conveys the darkness of the moment. I love that this film is not just beautiful to look at but it also speaks about an inspiring message of devotion, bravery, sacrifice and forgiveness. If you’re in the mood for a charming animated feature hat carries a deeper meaning than what’s typically offered in this genre, definitely give this one a shot. It’s available on Netflix Streaming too!

4.5 out of 5 reels

Since Sunday was Russell Crowe’s birthday, I thought it was time for another Gladiator re-watch.

I’m still as enamored by this film as I did the first time I saw it over a decade ago. I’ve written all kinds of posts on this, including this essay on how this film launched thousands of imitation (part of the Movies that made going to the movies suck blog-a-thon). But even with countless Gladiator wanna-be out there, there is still nothing quite like the story of the wronged Roman General Maximus.

There are sooo many memorable scenes in this film, and certainly the one where Maximus revealed his identity to Commodus rates high up there. It stands as one of those scenes I could watch over and over again. But upon my nth re-watch, this scene after Maximus survived a particularly gruesome game with the tigers that’s been *arranged* specifically by Commodus is down-right heart-wrenching.

Time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end… your Highness.

Crowe’s expression as he uttered the line, his voice almost crumbling as he used every bit of willpower from ripping Commodus apart… it moved me to tears every time.

Well, what did you see this weekend? Anything good?