Sony and filmmaker Neil Blomkamp are keeping a low profile when it comes to marketing Elysium right now, but that should change once the big-budget titans of 2013 start rolling into theaters next month (beginning with Marvel’s first “Phase 2″ installment Iron Man 3). Blomkamp’s followup to his feature-length debut District 9 has continued its steady, but quiet, drum-beating this week, first by initiating viral marketing - and then, today, releasing a couple more images and details on the film.
Elysium takes place in the year 2159, as the global society has separated fully into “Haves” – who enjoy a luxurious life on the space station called Elysium, which is named for the final resting place of virtuous souls in Greek mythology (a tad ironic, no doubt) – and “Have-Nots,” the rest of the human population residing on the environmentally-devastated Earth. Matt Damon stars as Max, a dying man who takes on a dangerous mission, in the hopes of reaching Elysium and getting the proper treatment he needs.
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Wagner Moura (Elite Squad 2) costars as Spider, that character once described as being the “underground leader involved in human trafficking but a hero among his community.” A recent article from the Sao Paulo newspaper Illustrada (hat tip to Bleeding Cool) reveals that Spider is also a “revolutionary hacker” who assists Max on his quest, with Moura describing the importance of the character’s Brazilian heritage as follows (note that this is a rough translation):
“Elysium is about social differences. My character is kind of a leader of the excluded, but is far from the romantic idea of the nice revolutionary. Neill [Blomkamp] sought a multicultural cast. Maybe [to] reinforce the theories of globalization and exclusion. He encouraged us to improvise things that reinforce these identities. It is clear that Spider is Brazilian, [so] I acted like one.”
The Elysium cast has made no secret of the sci-fi film’s sociopolitical (subtext? Content?), with the story examining concepts and themes that are currently all the rage in the post-apocalyptic genre (see: The Hunger Games) and can be found in pop culture ranging from Nickelodeon’s animated Legend of Korra TV show to the HBO medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones, to some degree.
What separates those stories from Elysium, as far as I can tell, is that Blomkamp is combining very forward-thinking sci-fi elements – many of which appear to have originated with the filmmaker’s abandoned Halo movie adaptation – together with a future setting where just about everything (and everyone) is painted with grey brushstrokes, not pure black or white.
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Case in point: it seems that Damon, as the Elysium protagonist, has more on his mind that just self-preservation, judging by the following information about Alice Braga’s (Predators) character (again, rough translation):
Alice Braga [plays] Frey, a childhood friend of Max. The two were raised together in an orphanage, but followed different paths. Frey realized [her] dream of becoming a nurse and had a daughter. When Max finds, years later, old feelings come back to haunt [him].
Elysium is actually going to be the third post-apocalyptic sci-fi blockbuster to reach theaters this year (after Oblivion and After Earth), but given the mix of cool sci-fi gadgetry, good casting and thought-provoking narrative, there’s a solid chance that Blomkamp’s movie could wind up the best of all three (hence its ranks eighth on the Screen Rant‘s Most Anticipated of 2013 list).
Look for Elysium in theaters on August 9th, 2013.