8:00 PM, 18th October, 2013
Neill Blomkamp, director of the thoughtful and wildly entertaining District 9, returns to the dystopian future with Elysium.
In 2154 earth is a mess: grungy and overcrowded; its population living in poverty. The rich live in the ultimate gated community – Elysium – a man-made floating city in space. Max Coburn (Damon) needs the medical care only available in the privileged enclave and agrees to take on a desperate mission to break into the heavily protected space station.
Coburn is a grimmer, more stoic hero than Sharlto Copley's wild-eyed character in District 9 but he looks tough in his new haircut, particularly after his cohorts literally bolt him into a power-assisted exo-suit. Copley is back, as the heavy this time, backed by a chilling Jodie Foster as the ruthless administrator of the space station.
Blomkamp, arguably one of the best directors for getting bang for the buck out of visual effects, has a bigger budget this time and has teamed up with artists like concept designer Syd Mead (Blade Runner). The director has described his job as ‘painting ridiculous ideas with a brush of reality’ and it's exciting to see what he does with this, much bigger, brush.
10:04 PM, 18th October, 2013
The plot of Gattaca is familiar to many (perhaps especially so for some of our high school memories). It is set in a world where genetic engineering has become the norm for procreation. Vincent Freeman (Hawke) is a traditionally conceived human, a ‘faith birth’, an ‘INVALID’, in this future where all births are planned in the laboratory. He must hide his multitude of genetic flaws if he is to ever achieve his dream of becoming a spaceman on a voyage to one of Saturn’s moons. Jerome Eugene Morrow (Law) is the genetically gifted yet paraplegic man who lost all hope in this world and barters his perfect DNA identity, used by Vincent to get through his daily life and the rigorous screening process at Gattaca Aerospace. However a murder investigation threatens this elaborate subterfuge and causes everyone to re-examine themselves and their cold, scientific society.
Writer-director Andrew Niccol’s first movie, Gattaca received widespread critical acclaim for being an intelligent and thought-provoking film. It presents a world of unapologetic discrimination, a seemingly distant fiction yet strangely possible extension of our current society. More than 16 years have passed since its first release, yet the film still poses some provocative questions we need to consider today: should we embrace genetic engineering as a justifiable practice? Are we living in a world being destroyed by the pursuit of perfection? Can we ever conquer discrimination and prejudice? Perhaps this is why Gattaca will always remain intriguing and moving.