[San Diego Comic-Con '12] [Video] ‘Elysium’ Blows Lid Off Con, Sony Panel Recap, Interviews!

Elysium-hi-res-image Matt Damon

On Friday the 13th Sony Pictures took to Hall H to share three upcoming titles with San Diego Comic-Con attendees – one of which blew the roof off the place.

Stars Matt Damon (pictured) and Jodie Foster joined director Neill Blomkamp and producer Simon Kinberg on stage to share the insanely gory first footage from Elysium. Inside you’ll find Evan Dickson’s report from the panel alongside video interviews with all four attendees!

The panel also focused on two other genre titles, the forthcoming Len Wiseman-directed Total Recall (in theaters August 3) and Rian Johnson’s insane time travel thriller Looper (September 28), starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.

Dickson recaps the footage and panel presentation inside.

TOTAL RECALL

Next up Len Wiseman took the stage to introduce Total Recall. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Brian Cranston accompanied him shortly thereafter and they pretty much immediately launched into an extended 6 minute trailer for the film.

Now, I’ve been extremely hard on the early trailers for the film. I think it looks like a completely neutered version of the original, with all of the satire and edgy violence removed. The footage I saw was actually something of an improvement. I was a little impressed with the scope of what Wiseman is trying to pull off and admired some shots and some of the action. That’s really what this chunk of footage featured more than the existing trailers. Action. I actually caught myself thinking that I might even like this movie on some level, and I might like it a lot more if it didn’t have the Total Recall title and story. There was some cool stuff that looked like it could have been thrilling in a different setting. But for every new beat, there was a callback to the original. The three-breasted woman is there – though I’m not sure where she got the extra breast from if there’s no Mars mutants in the movie. It also looks like, due to the PG13 rating, she will only be seen from the cleavage up. There’s also a callback to the “3 days” customs bit from the original, but it only served to remind me that this was a remake and diminished whatever enthusiasm I had for the footage,

All in all – Total Recall looks like it could be a slick and entertaining ride. But it also looks like something of an empty cash grab. Devoid of anything new to say.

LOOPER and ELYSIUM

The emptiness of Total Recall as a sci-fi film was easily illustrated by the next two panels on the docket. While there isn’t much in that way of horror as far as Looper is concerned, it does look like a truly original take on time travel. Thoughtful, action packed and full of rich character work – this is the kind of sci-fi film many of us have been dying for since Inception.

Something that definitely falls under the categories of “bloody” and “disgusting” is Elysium. Director Neill Blomkamp was brought onstage to introduce the footage – which had never been seen before. We were warned that it had very rough pre-viz level effects but – except for a few glaring examples regarding space travel – a lot of the effects work seemed finished.

The footage established Earth in the year 2154. A barren, global ghetto marred by disease, overpopulation and crushing poverty. The rich people built their own planet-like space station – Elysium – years ago and there they exist in utter opulence and luxury. Free of disease and free of worry.

Damon’s character is an ex-con who gets radiation poisoning at work and knows he will die in 5 days if he doesn’t do something about it. He knows that the only way he can be cured will be to somehow get into the heavily guarded Elysium. In order to get there, he agrees to complete a mission that involves stealing the memory of a character played by the great William Fichtner. Getting geared up for this mission means a nasty piece of bone-saw surgery into Damon’s skull (apparently without pain killers) where a highly intrusive device is implanted that will enable him to download Fichtner’s brain.

Along for the ride is an almost unrecognizable Sharlto Copley (the “hero” from District 9), who looks sort of like a homeless ninja. He literally has throwing stars that make people explode in a gory, gooey and messy fashion. We only got a few glimpses of Jodie Foster’s character, a severe but mysterious looking woman that didn’t appear to be too far off from something that Tilda Swinton might play.

All in all, the movie looks super violent, not unlike early Paul Verhoeven stuff like RoboCop and the original Total Recall. It also has some nice commentary about the haves and the have-nots – sort of an uber-extrapolation of the 99% vs the 1% concept. Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and producer Simon Kinberg came out for the panel where they basically sang the praises of Blomkamp and declared that they would have done the film script unseen because of District 9 alone. Oh, and Jodie Foster declared that her favorite movie of all time is Team America: World Police. Not a bad choice!

VIDEO INTERVIEWS WITH THE CAST AND CREW OF ELYSIUM