District 9 is one of those movies I’ve found myself thinking about many times since I saw it years ago. It pulled me in with its spectacular use of Johannesburg, South Africa as the setting and its ability to do what the best science fiction does so well — to tell a fantastic story while also symbolizing a real and dark aspect of humanity. It also went places I never thought the story would. I’ve seen and read a lot of science fiction, and while I had some guesses about where District 9 was headed when Wikus started turning into a prawn alien, I wasn’t even close to right.
So you better believe I’m excited for Elysium, director Neill Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9. And since we have to wait two more months for the film’s August 9 release, we have this new 30-second TV spot to tide us over.
The new spot features the same gritty cinematography that gave District 9 an improbable and unforgettable sense of verisimilitude. And clearly, Elysium is just as relevant, just as analogous to the current state of affairs on Earth: it’s 2159 and the world’s population is firmly divided into the haves and the have-nots (I know, it’s tough to believe, right?). The latter live on a crowded and blighted Earth, scrambling for survival. The 1% live in Elysium, a space station located far above the terrestrial mess below.
We know where this is going, right? Or so we think — I bet a down payment on a space station that we’re all wrong.
Max (Matt Damon, with a serious haircut) stars as the protagonist plebeian who, after a poisonous accident at work, has only five days left to live. The only way he can save himself is by somehow getting up to Elysium for treatment, which he attempts to do with the help of an exoskeleton grafted to his body.
Of course, “aiding illegals is a crime,” and upper-crust folk such as Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster, also with a haircut) are dead-set on enforcing anti-immigration laws and maintaining their luxurious lifestyles. Max’s mission takes on greater importance as it becomes clear he’s fighting for the 99%, not simply for his own survival.
Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to watching Matt Damon turn into some sort of non- or more-than-human? He doesn’t even have to be a crustacean (I’m guessing nothing edible would last long on their Earth anyway). As long as Robin Williams is there to give him a hug, everything will turn out okay.