Occupy Elysium? Watch the Great Trailer for the Follow-Up to District 9

Slate's Culture Blog
April 9 2013 7:59 PM

Trailer Critic: Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium

It’s been four years since Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with his strikingly original sci-fi debut District 9, which somehow managed to blast you with action and social commentary and still find room for laughs. This combination proved potent enough that the found-footage-style film, full of laser guns and mechs, even managed to pew-pew-pew its way to a rare sci-fi Best Picture nomination.

This summer, Blomkamp returns with Elysium, another sci-fi actioner, and this time he’s armed with major stars in Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. He also commands an estimated budget almost four times the size. But will all this extra ammo empower him to surpass his debut, or will it weigh him down?

Of course we’ll have to wait to see Elysium to find out, but the trailer, just posted a few minutes ago, is very promising. The social commentary, at least, is clear. In fact it’s spelled out in the titles: Damon plays a member of the 99 percent, and he sets out to occupy the utopian land of the rich, called Elysium—indeed, from the looks of his weapons, he might occupy it into smithereens.

The weapons porn aspect of District 9 is here, too. While I can’t say that weapons porn is exactly the highest aim of cinema, or even an admirable aim at all, Blomkamp sure knows how to make it entertaining. Here, in just a couple minutes, we get swords, laser cannons, more mysterious weaponized suits, something that sounds like it’s called the “boom saw,” and the apparent ability to flip a car from a distance with just a flick of the hands. Damon, of course, having once been the action star of the great Bourne trilogy, should have no problem handling this kind of role. Moreover, the fact that his suit doesn’t obscure his face means that he might still be able to turn in a compelling performance.

Hopefully Blomkamp hasn’t lost his lighter touch, either. Reports from a larger clip reel shown to the press suggest that Elysium employs a similar sense of humor to District 9, though any comedy here is drowned out by brAHHMs. Perhaps we’ll get more of that in Sharlto Copley, whose comedic timing as District 9’s Wikus made for many of that film’s best moments (he’s also in Elysium), or from Damon, who’s balancing out this more macho role with his decidedly un-macho performance in the Liberace pic Behind the Candelabra. We’ll find out on August 9.

Previously from the Trailer Critic
Only God Forgives
Kick-Ass 2

Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha
Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited
The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis
Man of Steel
Star Trek Into Darkness
World War Z
The Lone Ranger
The Great Gatsby

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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