That's because, by the year 2154, Earth has become an impoverished wasteland, while humanity's elite inhabit a shiny space station called Elysium high above the planet. Free of disease, crime and, most importantly, poor people, it's a pretty nice place if you're lucky enough to live there. And if you're not, well, there's a reason why they call these kinds of movies dystopian.
So just how idyllic is Blomkamp's futuristic habitat? And, more importantly, is his follow-up to "District 9" worth the trip for audiences? Here's everything you need to know about living on Elysium, the happiest place not on Earth.
It's got serious curb appeal
As we're told via flashback, the movie's hero, Max (Matt Damon), has dreamt of getting to Elysium ever since he was a kid. Problem is, so has just about everyone else on the planet, and Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) is staunchly anti-immigration. But it's easy to see why so many people would be willing to leave behind Earth's scenic rolling garbage hills and casual robo-police brutality for the gleaming paradise. A high-tech rotating space station, Elysium is like something out of "2001," only filled with palm trees and infinity pools. Not to mention gorgeous CGI.
Also, universal health care
Health care may be a big debate here on Earth, but not on Elysium. Instead, the fact that its citizens have access to futuristic medical care is the major selling point. Each house is equipped with state-of-the-art machines that are able to almost instantaneously cure everything from cancer to grenade wounds. And that's important, because for some reason, people seem to have a real problem with getting blown up in "Elysium." So, after an on-the-job accident leaves Max with a rapidly-approaching expiry date, it's understandable why he and so many others are looking to cure what ails them on Elysium.
Getting pre-approved is crucial
And we're not talking about for a mortgage. Delacourt takes a hard-line stance when it comes to immigration, which means if Elysium doesn't approve your entry, the welcome basket consists of a surface-to-air missile. Remember the whole thinly veiled social allegory part? Well, Elysium is the ultimate gated community, and there's nothing subtle about it.
It's going to cost you
Aside from being born there, the only way to get into Elysium is to enlist qualified help. And in Max's case, that doesn't mean an experienced real estate agent. Instead, he heads to Spider (Wagner Moura), the de facto resistance leader, who offers to help Max crash the gates by welding an exoskeleton onto his body in order to heist "sensitive brain data." Granted, this doesn't make much sense, but it does mean we get to watch Damon tear apart robots and throw down with Elysium's version of homeland security, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), a gleeful madman with a samurai sword and zero redeeming features. Which makes the suspension of disbelief well worth it.
Everyone's always thinking of the children
When it comes to prime real estate like Elysium, it's important to keep the future in mind, and not just in terms of resale value. Whether it's Max or Delacourt, everybody sees the floating paradise as a way to provide a better life for future generations. For Max and the others, that means not having to grow up in a world suffering from overpopulation and widespread disease. And for Delacourt, that means not having to share their parks with poor people. Again, subtlety isn't the movie's strong suit.
It's not perfect
Despite the great views and robot servants, Elysium isn't quite the blissful utopia it seems from down below. There's still political backstabbing and power plays, and it takes a lot of nasty means to justify such extravagant ends. As a movie, "Elysium" isn't perfect either, and whether or not you should make the trip ultimately depends on your tolerance for sci-fi clichés, predictable plotting and exploding bodies. Still, Blomkamp and his team do such an impressive job crafting both of the movie's futuristic worlds that it makes "Elysium" a nice place for audiences, and especially sci-fi fans, to visit for a couple hours.
"Elysium" opens in theatres on August 9.