Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Elysium Trailer

I'm a big fan of Neill Blomkamp and his work in creating District 9 which I think is a really great film.  The mix of action, sci-fi and allegory/cultural criticism draws many a comparison with many of the greats in dystopian and sci-fi works, be they on paper or celluloid.

Blomkamp seems to have no interest at the current time from leaving the genre and returns later this year with Elysium, staring Matt Damon.  I am hoping for another quality film but I do have my qualms about what I've seen so far.  First off, the exoskeleton that Damon wears in the trailer and throughout much of the film seems too "Iron-Man"ish to me...we've seen men get turned into superheros before via mechanical apparatuses in recent films and this one is going to have to bring a lot of new things to the table to make it fresh.  This also follows closely the storyline from District 9 in that it places the protagonist in the position of unwillingly taking on body modifications that present both positives and negatives in terms of being able to accomplish his desires.  In District 9 it was the protagonists slow morphing of his body into an alien, gaining strength and the ability to use alien devices along the way making him more and more powerful.  Here it is a more mechanical body modification but the path and results that these modifications take the main character along seems a tad similar.

A second issue I can see arising is in the political bent of this film.  While District 9 has been often seen as an allegory for aparthied and race relations in South Africa, Elysium is already generating buzz around its potential to be seen as a comparison between the US and Mexico and the illegal alien problem surrouding that.  In this instance, Matt Damon and those humans left on the burnt out wreck of a planet that is Earth in the film are supposed to be representatives of Mexico and those living on the space station Elysium that is sterile, rich and can cure you of all diseases are supposed to represent the United States.  With Elysium keeping those on Earth out of their utopian space station by force if necessary the comparisons to the US/Mexico relationship are already being drawn.  While I welcome social commentary in film, if the film takes this left wing view it would be sad as the premise is flawed from the start as the US doesn't prevent anyone from legally coming or entering the country--but I can already see Rolling Stone, Time and the USA Today lining up behind calling this a brilliant comparison.  Its not...its an easy retread of a formula that worked for South Africa but is not comparable to the situation in the US.  I hope Blomkamp has resorted to this...

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