Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I watch science fiction, part 1

It looks like the immediate danger for Graham-Cassidy is over. I suspect that's temporary, so some of the other things I wanted to say about it can keep. For now, let's talk about movies.

In the fairly recent past I have watched Elysium and Mad Max: Fury Road. There were some similarities.

Both came from the library. They were both rated R, which made me a little less likely to see them. I decided to watch both of them anyway based on things that were said regarding them on Twitter.

With Elysium, what I saw was a question of why they wouldn't just share the medical technology. The answer seemed pretty obvious, but I like to be thorough. That's why I decided to watch the movie.

A brief synopsis follows. While you might think that movies from 2013 should be past spoiler alerts, I nonetheless affirm that there will be spoilers.

In a dusty miserable Earth jobs are scarce, crime is high, and there appear to be plenty of orphans. But that's just below; above is a beautiful space station where everything is clean and high-tech and there are scanners all over the place that repair damage to your body on a DNA level. Everything can be cured. However, they don't work if you are not a citizen of Elysium. None of the people living in terrible conditions on Earth are citizens.

There is a black market for cars, but even more there is a black market for getting your citizenship hacked and getting up to Elysium for healing. Elysium is very against these huddled masses, so much so that a ship full of them is shot down early in the film.

Matt Damon is Max, a grown-up orphan who gets an arm injury that makes losing his job a risk. That could mean going back to jail. Instead he works injured, but the lack of full abilities leads to a jam, and the evil mid-level manager insists on Max going in to clear the jam. (The future is terrible.) This results in Max getting a blast of deadly radiation where he only has a few days to live. He could get healed on Elysium. He works with some black market contacts and they get a hack that makes everyone citizens, and medical ships immediately begin transport to Earth to let the healing begin. (But not for Max, who died a hero.)

Obviously I oversimplified that. I believe the main criticism of the film was that it was predictable. It did stick to some tropes, especially tiresome in the case of Sharlto Copley's character. Still, there was some great casting, a nice contract with the sleekness of Elysium and the opposite on Earth, and I found the ending genuinely moving.

The big surprise for me was when they dispatched the medical ships. It was beautiful, and beautiful to see the excited masses approaching for treatment, but if you don't even need to let everybody on the ship, why not share?

And that part still felt like the truest thing about the movie.

We don't have medical technology quite that good, but we can still do some pretty good things, and we still have a bunch of people trying their hardest to cut off access. Why?

Greetings from the dystopian present.

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