Cinematic visions of mankind’s future usually go one of three ways.
Either our successors are trapped in a bleak, dystopian wasteland where a dog-eat-dog mentality prevails and there is little hope of any real improvement (or a working lightbulb and you can forget about a picnic out in the countryside) … or it is pretty much business as usual but with flying cars, jackbooted policemen and a noticeable absence of democratic rights … or there are zombies … lots and lots of zombies (there go the picnics again).
Living through any of those scenarios in real life is not an appealing prospect but watching them unfold on the big screen from the comfort of your cinema seat?
Ah, that … that is another matter entirely!
Which is why I am thrilled that another tale of less-than-ideal future, Elysium, is heading our way courtesy of the talented and imaginative Neil Blomkamp who gave the visionary District 9, which is one of most superlative entries in the genre of late.
Set in 2159, the Earth is divided in almost insurmountable fashion into the Haves, who reside in a utopian society aboard the pristine space station, Elysium, and the blighted HaveNots, who have been left behind on the crime-ravaged and poverty-scarred planet far below.
And this time he has garnered significant star power in the form of Matt Damon (a self-admitted uber-fan of the Mr Blomkamp), who plays Max, a man with a desperate need to get access to Elsyium’s state-of-the-art medical facilities and Jodie Foster (who doesn’t do movies for just anybody these days) who plays the station’s Secretary Delacourt and who will do everything in her power to prevent Max and other “illegal” immigrants like him from gaining access to the rarefied world beyond the clouds.
It is the outcome of the furious battle of wills between these two people, and the societies they represent, that will determine the future of all of mankind.
So a lot hangs in the balance.
Joining Damon and Foster are District 9‘s Sharlto Copley and Stargate SG1‘s Michael Shanks, as part of what will undoubtedly be a cautionary tale to contemporary man, wrapped up in stunning visuals, a narrative that engages and actually makes sense, and characters who make you care a great deal.
The non-spoiler synopsis for the film, which was printed on invitations to those fortunate to be invited to the first preview screening, is as follows and has me mighty excited:
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 (Jodie Foster), 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 (Matt Damon) 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.
This storyline indicates that Blomkamp will once again explore themes of inequality, segregation, racism and disempowerment, all of which, handled well (and there’s no doubt he will handle them exceptionally well) will make for a thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking movie.
It opens in the US on 9 August 2013 (moved from its original 31 March release date) with release into Australia likely over the southern hemisphere summer.