"Elysium," Neill Blomkamp's new film in wide release this week, presents a bleak picture of Earth in 2154. The overcrowded planet's inhabitants wrestle with disease, crime and poverty, while the rich have left for a space-based gated community called Elysium that's packed with everything they need, including home-based technology to erase traces of cancer.
The film's stars, Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, recently spoke about the impression the movie leaves and its social commentary.
"Neill really loves to inject these themes that have some resonance or some relevance to the world that we live in now," Damon told SPACE.com in a recent interview.
"This can take place in the future but it's a story about the haves and the have-nots and something that's kind of, I think, in the zeitgeist right now and kind of gives the movie its soul," Damon added. He plays one of those have-nots. His character, Max, decides to leave Earth and storm Elysium to save his own life after being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation.
While Blomkamp wants to entertain audiences with a big action movie, Damon noted, "He doesn't want it to be empty spectacle."
"He wants the movie to stay with you," the actor added.
Jodie Foster, meanwhile, plays the 108-year-old Defense Secretary Mrs. Delacourt, the protector of the privileged aboard the Elysium space station.
"I don't think that she's your twirling-mustache bad guy," Foster said in a video release.
"The Earth that she came from," Foster said, "was falling apart and was horrible and was a terrible place to be, and they created this new habitat, Elysium, to get rid of some of the bad things that happened … the terrible pollution, toxicity of the planet, overpopulation, all of those things that we all know right now are a problem, and now all her concern is really to protect that."
Foster pointed out similarities between "Elysium" and Blomkamp's earlier film, "District 9," in which aliens were stranded in South Africa, living under apartheid-like conditions.
"Like 'District 9' I think you have a film that's really intelligent — the fantasy elements to it are really intelligent — that has a much deeper sociological meaning," Foster said.
"If there are similarities between the two films, both of them have ordinary men who woke up one morning … and their whole life changes, and they go through such personal and physical suffering in order to realize that their mission is to do the right thing," she added.