In 2009, an unknown South African director called Neill Blomkamp wowed audiences with District 9, a chilling look at a world in which our first contact with aliens led to xenophobia and even all-out violence, with the alien ‘prawns’ being cordoned of in what was effectively a ghetto just outside of Johannesburg. It did well with the critics and at the box office but unfortunately failed to win any awards.
Now he’s back with his newest project,Elysium. Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, it focuses on a fractured, dystopian society: the ultra-rich live on a gleaming space station which gives the movie its name, whilst the rest of humanity are left on an Earth that is rapidly running out of both room and natural resources.
District 9 made a compelling point about the continuing nature of racism in our modern society. Unfortunately, it did so with about as much subtelty as a freight train: invert the eponymous 9 and you’ve got District 6, one of the biggest white-only areas during the apartheid movement in South Africa. And in Elysium, the political message is just as heavy handed. So 99 per cent of society are forced to live on a dying planet, whilst the remaining ONE PER CENT live in luxury in space? Why, Mr Blomkamp, whatever are you insinuating?
Of course, this is just nitpicking. Blomkamp proved himself to be a terrific director three years ago, and he’s come up with another fascinating premise which should form the backbone of another great movie.