Wednesday, January 2, 2013



A comment left by my fellow blogger the Sci-Fi Fanatic left me wondering:
Are the similarities of Elysium and Oblivion purely coincidental?

Elysium is an original idea written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the co-writer and director of District 9 (2009). The film stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Wagner Moura, Carly Pope and Alice Braga. It is scheduled to be released on August 9, 2013. Elysium takes place on a ravaged Earth and a space habitat named Elysium.

Oblivion is a science fiction film based on the Radical Comics graphic novel Oblivion created by Joseph Kosinski, but written by Arvid Nelson and illustrated by Andree Wallin. Oblivion will be directed by Kosinski, who co-wrote the screenplay with Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt. Interestingly enough, the graphic novel has not yet been released despite a release date of July 19 2011. As far as I know, Radical Comics has not published anything in over a year! It stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The film was initially scheduled to release on July 10, 2013. Since the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park was set for a July 19, 2013 release date, the project was moved forward to April 19, 2013.

Elysium’s plot description:
In the year 2159, two classes of people exist. The first are the very wealthy who live on Elysium, a pristine man-made space station similar in appearance to a Stanford torus built by the Armadyne Corporation. The rest live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard-nosed government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That does not stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky ex-con Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

Oblivion’s plot description:
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete. Living in and patrolling the skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues an attractive female stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything.

While the environments of both films look similar, the plots of the films seem dissimilar. Interesting as well is the film After Earth (originally known as 1000 A.E.) an upcoming American science-fiction thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, starring real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith as Cypher and Kitai Raige, also dealing with a devistade future Earth. I didn’t add this to my list of films that I’m looking forward to because I think M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible filmmaker.

My opinion is that the best film will be Elysium (August 9), based on Neill Blomkamp’s previous film District 9. However, both Oblivion (April 19) and After Earth (June 7) are being released before Elysium and I am concerned it may hurt its chances. What do you think?


  1. I'm suffering from a terrible head cold but before heading off I wanted to say how honored to have ignited the fire in you for this great post!

    Honestly Doc, I wish I had taken time to dissect the films myself. Perhaps that day will come, but to be ahead of the curve on this one is thoughtful.

    As a conspiracy theorist when it comes to Hollywood, I'm telling you there's something to this. ;)

    But seriously, in fact, Oblivion has some elements that are similar to Elysium. I think we will see more to come on this.

    Also, it's like The Abyss preceded by Deep Star Six and Leviathan. Ideas are bandied about within the system and modified and given some different flavors, but within the space of months in the aforementioned case you had three underwater films with aliens.

    The same holds true to the shades of grey here in your trio of films noted.

    Personally, I can't stand Matt Damon.

    I agree with you on M. Night. He has not been impressive since his early films. I really liked Signs a lot, but it pretty much ended there for me. The Village was ok. So I don't have high hopes for After Earth. In fact, Doc, it looks really cheesy. Sorry. I could be wrong.

    Oblivion looks very good. I have to admit I'm intrigued by Cruise in a science fiction film that reminisces of the quality of Spielberg's Minority Report. I have high hopes there.

    But finally, I agree with you, I believe Elysium will be the best of the three. Despite my distaste for Damon I love the rest of that cast especially Copley, Foster and Moura [who has been excellent in a few foreign films I've seen].

    I also, like you, am an immediate believer in Neil Blomkamp. He had me at hello with District 9. I was blown away at how much I loved that film [as you know]. In fact, I really hope he does some kind of prequel, but more preferrably a sequel.

    So yes, Elysium will be the best creatively I think. Note here, The Abyss was the final of the three films to be released. Will Elysium be successful financially? Not sure, but it will be the best of the three films. Oblivion will be a close one, but I'm beginning to wonder if Cruise isn't bringing some bad karma to the cinema.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed your post because these are things I think about as well and I enjoyed being part of the inspired conversation here. I'd love to hear other opinions on this thread.

    Cheers Doc and again best wishes

    1. I unfortunately remember all too well the year 1989 when they released “three underwater films with aliens”, because I saw all three of them at the theater. Deep Star Six, the worst and cheapest, came out in January; Leviathan, the somewhat more expensive and better quality film, came out in March; and The Abyss, James Cameron’s expensive, but underrated classic, came out in August. I’m pretty sure DS6 was made to cash in on both Leviathan and The Abyss. Today, only The Abyss holds up as an eminently watchable film. I have a feeling we’ll be saying the same thing about Elysium as well twenty years from now.

      I’m not a huge Matt Damon fan myself, but I did like his work in the three Bourne movies. I think he’ll be good in the role of ex-con everyman in Elysium. I have more of a problem with Jodi Foster, an actress who always comes off as cold to me, but it appears she’ll be portraying the antagonist in this film, which she could be well suited for.

      I've only seen three of M. Night Shyamalan’s films: The Sixth Sense (overrated), Unbreakable (underrated and somewhat interesting) and The Happening, (which I only watched because I heard it was so bad that it was funny, but I just found it dull). Even with all that, I may be tempted to rent After Earth, because I do like Will Smith and it may be interesting to see him act with his son Jaden.

      I didn't like Spielberg's Minority Report very much, but it was not the fault of Cruise, so Oblivion won’t fail or succeed because of him. I don’t think Oblivion will be at the same level of technical quality as Minority Report, simply because this is only director Joseph Kosinski’s second feature film. Still, many times a good concept can make up for less competent filmmaking.

      I don’t think Elysium – much like Abyss – will make a huge amount of money, simply because of the August release date. All the blockbusters are released between early-May and mid-July; the big studios save their potentially riskier films for August/September; Sad, but true. It is interesting that M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth is the only one of the three that is getting the “blockbuster” release date of June seventh. Shyamalan’s last “hit” was Signs, which cost $72 million and made $227 million and that came out in 2002! The Villiage made a modest profit, Lady in the Water lost money, The Happening basically broke even and The Last Airbender lost even more than Lady in the Water. Still, it’s obvious that Hollywood still thinks his name sells movies.

      Thanks for all your interesting comments, Sci-Fi Fanatic! It sounds as if you’re as excited by resurgence of science fiction films in 2013 as I am. Take care of that head cold and get some rest. You deserve it.

    2. I must tell you that I agreed with your assessments here 100% regarding the underwater films, Oblivion and Damon. AFter Earth would be my one major reservation.

      But yes, I'm excited for 2013 as well my friend.