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2013 Movie Preview: Elysium

Baxter

Posted January 18, 2013 - By Joseph Baxter

2013 Movie Preview: Elysium

Release Date: August 9
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Rating: Not Yet Rated

In a bleak future where people are class-divided by luxurious life on a space station and misery on a dying Earth, an unlikely hero emerges.

What We Know:

By the year 2159, Earth is rendered a polluted, overpopulated mess of a planet that is regularly bombarded by carcinogenic radiation. As a result, those with the means (i.e., "the rich") have abandoned the terrestrial life in favor of a gigantic space station called "Elysium," designed to luxuriously house humanity's fancier, pinky-raising population. Over there, life is good and a pesky bout of radiation exposure is easily eliminated by way of tech reserved for fancy people.

It's certainly of no help to the folks stuck back on Earth, which has become sort of the MySpace of the future. This is especially so for a blue collar worker named Max (Matt Damon), a miserable manual laborer whose co-workers are androids that don't particularly like him. (Residual backlash from Stuck on You?) His luck would only worsen with a work-related incident exposing him to deadly levels of radiation. Rather than giving him superpowers, it has left him with less than a week to live.

Not content to simply lie back and die, Max has decided to defy the law, escaping his quarantine and fighting his way to Elysium for a cure. Of course, the Scrooge McDucks of space aren't having any radiated rabble in their pad and "immigration enforcement" has become a big operation. Headed by a tenacious taskmaster of an official named Secretary Rhodes (Jodi Foster), her cops of caste are hot on Max's trail, exhausting vast amounts of manpower and resources that probably dwarf what it would have cost to simply cure the poor bastard.

Along the way, Max gets modified with cybernetic implants, leveling up his badassery to new futuristic heights. He'll need it, since not only are the government on his tail, but a grungy and menacing merc named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) is also looking to nab our hero. Max's quest to get to the spa in the sky could also lead to a breakdown of class barriers. However, it will be riddled with obstacles...obstacles that will end up in explosions...epic, futuristic explosions.

William Fichtner, Alice Braga, Talisa Soto, Diego Luna, Carly Pope, and Michael Shanks fill the cast.

2013 Movie Preview: Elysium
(Sharlto Copley as Kruger.)

What We Expect:

Following up the surprise success of 2009's low-budget visual feast, District 9, director/writer, Neill Blomkamp returns with vastly larger coffers and some star power in this grand-scale sci-fi epic. Yet, within the eye-catching visuals and futuristic conventions of space stations, robots, cyborgs, and...apparently even lightsabers, exists the same basic framework of a topical-political message. This time, rather than District 9's allusions to racism and South African apartheid, we have an allegory for wealth inequality and its dehumanizing effect. It's a theme that several genre films in recent years have chosen to embrace in various forms, which could lead to the film being perceived as conventional, maybe even overly-preachy, despite its possible visual freshness.

In part, the film sounds like a District 9 hybrid, perhaps mixed with the DNA of Total Recall. While the main character, Max is obviously a victim of circumstance, we may eventually see his antagonistic pursuers in Secretary Rhodes and Kruger shown in a sympathetic light. They seem to be mere cogs in a grand machine that was built by humanity's own self-separation. -- In essence, that widespread society-driven "machine" is likely the real villain of the film.

For Blomkamp, this big-budget blockbuster comes nearly 4 years to the day that he defied the odds on so many levels, making critical and financial waves with District 9. Now having all the advantages not available to him before, Elysium will be an important test for the visionary. While no footage or trailers have been made public yet, talks at the film's panel at Comic-Con last summer (where some tightly-kept footage was shown) portray it as a project based on long-digested ideas that was crafted with a lot of passion. Also, the action has been promised to be intense.

 

Be sure to check out more of G4's 2013 movie previews throughout the month of January.

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