Neill Blomkamp’s first film District 9 was a fairly original sci-fi movie and it became really popular with both critics and moviegoers. The film had a unique plot and a rather unconventional main protagonist played by Sharlto Copley. Copley’s performance was outstanding and he quickly caught the attention of Hollywood studios eager to make the most of his talent. He went on to play Murdoch in the A-Team film and he also stars in Elysium as a bad guy for a change.

Blomkamp is a good director and he seems to like working in the sci-fi genre. There were plans to make a Hollywood movie based on the famous sci-fi shooter videogame series known as HALO which Blomkamp was meant to direct. For some reason the project was cancelled and now Blomkamp has returned to direct Elysium. The film also stars Matt Damon as the main protagonist which is a welcome change of pace for the actor. Damon is versatile and he particularly excels at playing every man characters put into difficult situations. Elysium also has a nice supporting cast including Jodie Foster, Diego Luna and William Fichtner who seems to turn up in a lot of movies as a rent-a-villain these days.

The film is set in the year 2154 and in this future dystopia the rich and powerful live in a plush space station called Elysium. The name is rather apt as Elysium or Elysian fields was the name given to the afterlife or heaven by some Ancient Greek religious sects and cults. Unfortunately the poor people live on a ruined Earth which is practically one big slum. Slum dwellers are willing to risk their lives to get to Elysium but that is a rather arduous task. A government official known as Secretary Rhodes (William Fichtner) sees to it that no earth dwellers ever make it to the space station with his extreme anti-immigration policies. Matt Damon plays Max De Costa, a man living in the slums who is desperate to find a way into Elysium. He makes a deal with some crooks to have a kind of metal exo-skeleton grafted to his body. Doing this will allow him to fight the security personnel that guard Elysium including machine gun wielding robots and a feared mercenary called Kruger (Sharlto Copley.) Max then sets out on his mission to enter Elysium against all odds.

The trailer is very well made and it sets up the story nicely. It begins with a rather menacing musical score and quickly explains the basics of the plot. The editing is nice and the viewer is shown a few glimpses of the supporting cast. The trailer wisely avoids giving away too many spoilers which is always a bonus. The CGI special effects are detailed and they also blend in well with the live action elements in the trailer which is crucial for a sci-fi movie. There is nothing worse than a sci-fi film with shoddy CGI effects that do not blend in with the environment and actors surrounding them.

District 9
was successful because it had both style and substance. Hopefully the director can strike it lucky a second time and Elysium will also have a nice balance between action and depth.

The film will be released on August 9th so have a look at the trailer and share your thoughts.