I finally had the chance to catch ELYSIUM (2013) and thought it was top-notch sci-fi. The film tells the story of a man (Matt Damon) who lives on an overcrowded, polluted Earth. After taking a lethal dose of radiation at the factory where he works, he determines to somehow get to Elysium–an orbiting space station where the rich and powerful live in luxury.
With films like ELYSIUM and THE TRAIN, class warfare is popular in sci-fi these days. One could even argue that Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD is about class. It’s a great theme for sci-fi, and let’s face it, these days, with rampant income inequality in the United States, it resonates. That’s what separates great sci-fi from the usual thriller with technology–big, challenging ideas. The film is actually quite subversive, describing the consequences of no worker regulations or rights, no access to decent healthcare, police brutality and so on.
The big question is whether opening the resources of Elysium to the people of Earth would really make a difference–whether Earth’s population would really be that much better off after absorbing Elysium‘s resources–or whether there would be some other lasting solution. In the film, the moral issue comes first.