Neill Blomkamp and the Elusive Elysium

If you ever want to be super frustrated, just be enamored with an upcoming film that is guarding news about itself like a dragon with a maiden and hoard of treasure. OK, if you read this site you probably know what that feels like, Watchmen, Serenity, The Hobbit up until recently, many other science fiction and comic book movies. That is what it feels like to try and write about the future release Elysium, from Neill Blomkamp.

South African director, producer, and writer Neill Blomkamp first made a big mainstream impact with the semi-mockumentary District 9 back in halcyon days of 2009. Based on a 9-minute long film he produced, District 9 resonated with huge cross sections of the viewing public; bringing up important issues as varied as police states, immigration, xenophobia, segregation, South African apartheid, and basic humanity and beyond.

District 9 begins in 1982, when a large space craft containing a distressed alien population, subsequently named “The Prawns,” hovers over Johannesburg, South Africa. Cut to Twenty-eight years later, and it is pretty obvious what having the bad luck land over Earth gets you. The Prawns have been forced to live in a ghetto called District 9, where they are restricted, herded, and left in squalor. The arms and mercenary corporation Multi-National United is contracted to force the population to move to a new District 10. MNU operative Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is placed in charge of inspecting the living spaces for contraband. Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must learn to trust the Prawns as he begins a terrifying transformation and is abandoned by friends and family.

OK, on to Elysium. With a tentative release date of March 1st 2013, they are being pretty tight-lipped about this project. So tight-lipped that half of the actors on the IMDB page don’t even have character names released yet…Seriously, Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1) who do you play? Surrender your mysteries to me! However, I will endeavor to bring you what I can as information is released.

Just to stop the rumor mill right now: Elysium is NOT a sequel to District 9. The upcoming film, starring such names as Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, stands alone. And this is a great choice on Blomkamp’s part. I have heard rumblings that a District 9 sequel is in the works, but in my opinion give it a few more years, explore more original material and then return and give us an awesome second saga.

True to Neill Blomkamp’s nature, this new project promises to touch on a multitude of issues; class warfare, economics, society, political polarization, immigration, and more. Jodie Foster has called the movie “thoughtful.” Set in 2159, Elysium takes place in (you guessed it) a dystopian future (man, I love those) where the population has literally been stratified. The very wealthy live in a space station orbiting over the Earth named, you guessed it, Elysium. While us regular Joes have to muck about in regular old Earth, which has been ravaged and ruined by the various things we did to Planet Earth in the name of whatever. Elysium government official Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster) is dedicated to maintaining the strict anti-immigration laws preventing Earthers from getting onto Elysium and enjoying their shopping malls, parks, and clean drinking water. Of course this doesn’t sit well with those of us on Terra Firma, who predictably try to get onto the orbital haven by any means necessary, probably for the purpose of leading the proletariat on a glorious charge to seize the means of oxygen production. When Max (Matt Damon. Young Max being played Maxwell Perry Clayton, most notably Cooper Whedon on Brothers and Sisters) is in a sticky situation (no word yet on the situation) he agrees to take on a mission that may just change everything and restore harmony to this stratified future.

I realize I end all of my articles on some variation of this: But, I am REALLY excited to what Neill Blomkamp has in store for us in Elysium and beyond. I was a huge District 9 enthusiast, and am sad that it is taking this long for Neill Blomkamp to return to us!


Gregory Hartmann