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Elysium Takes Class Warfare Into Space

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 carried the legacy of morality storytelling in science fiction into the modern age, and after watching ten minutes of footage from Elysium, we can tell you the director will be continuing to champion social struggles in fun-to-watch ways with his new film. The central conceit of the film is the question of what happens to the people on Earth when all of the money decides to move to a zip code hundreds of kilometers above the planet. From the trailer, you can see that Matt Damon is one of the billions of humans still stranded planetside, and is in a situation where he is desperate to get to Elysium, the satellite space station orbiting the Earth. Ultimately his struggle to survive is intertwined with the fate of everyone on Earth and what getting to Elysium will mean for them as well.

We screened ten minutes of the film at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood yesterday, where more details of the film’s plot were revealed. Jodie Foster plays the calculating administrator of Elysium, who uses agents on the planet to keep the underprivileged rabble at bay. Her key agent is portrayed by Sharlto Copley, to whom we spoke about the role and what to expect from his character, Kruger, at Comic-Con International. In the footage, we witnessed everything from Kruger shooting down spaceships in orbit from Earth to Matt Damon suiting up in a third generation Hulk suit (the real 1st generation is now being tested by the US military) and getting physical with some security droids. The film looks absolutely stunning, and you can get a complete run down of the play-by-play from some of our colleagues, but we’re choosing to hold back because a) visually, all you need to see is in the trailer, and b) the footage reveals a good chunk of the movie’s main plot, and we’re kind of disappointed that we already know so much going in. Treat yourself to being surprised. This movie is going to be worth it.

After the footage, the press was able to sit down with Neill, Sharlto, and producer Simon Kinberg about the movie. The question on our mind was where Blomkamp drew inspiration for his reality-based vision for the future. “I think that if you really try to make a proper, speculative piece of science fiction it’s a very different product that you end up with. In this film, and to a certain degree District 9, proper science was kind of thrown out the window a little bit in favor of metaphor or story or plot. Actually, less plot and more to make the mechanics of whatever the theme is work. So, building a space station with marble and slate is semi-not-that-smart. It’s not something you really want to do. The metaphor of Bel-Air in space is correct. You just kind of work towards that. Start off with something ridiculous and then try to use the most realistic portrayal of the ridiculous that you can.”

When the idea of sequels came up, Neil said, “In terms of sequels to my own stuff, I think a lot of it just comes down to if there’s just more to say. I think the world of District 9 has a lot of very interesting race and oppression-based ideas that I would still like to explore in that world. Again, I have zero problems… I’ll make my own stuff or whatever you want to call it, sequel-ize my own stuff.” He expounded on other sequels, “And then there’s a few pieces of cinema history that I like so much, I don’t know whether I could be involved with them. There’s iconic characters that I really like that I would love to get closer to and make a film about. When I start dipping my toes into it, I get this allergic reaction. Maybe one day I’ll end up doing something like that.”

After later admitting that his favorite film is Aliens, we had to follow up with whether or not he would do an Alien sequel if it was offered to him, at which point the director got a huge grin and just nodded his head in the affirmative. A Neill Blomkamp Aliens? Yes, please.

 

Elysium

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3 comments

  • Anyone think Blomkamp’s ripping off Bioshock Infinite? Come on, Elysium? Just a re-hashed version of Booker’s journey through Columbia.

    I kid, I kid – in all seriousness, though, kinda coincidental for two major properties using the floating-city concept to release in the same year. Regardless, I’m sure Blomkamp’s tale will be stupendous and take up his distinctive style.

  • Funny you should mention ripping off a video game.
    This plot actually reminds me of the Deponia series, which also has an upper class living in a floating city called Elysium with robot security forces isolating them from the dystopian planet below, and a desperate planet-bound male protagonist striving to reach the floating ‘paradise’.
    The tone is completely different though.

  • I wonder if the Hollywood sorts who made this realize the irony of the fact that if the “poor” in cities like LA and Oakland keep watching this sort of movie and decide it’s a good idea, they’re going to overrun Beverly Hills and San Francisco.