Elysium (2013)

Elysium is the large, second effort from District 9 Director, Neill Blomkamp. The story is set in the year 2154, when the humans have been divided into two colonies. The wealthy (1%) live on the orbital space station, Elysium. The poor (99%) live on the degrading Earth. The film encompasses many sociopolitical issues that are at hand today in the world we live in. Blomkamp’s District 9 garnered much attention for its show of brutality and the unfair treatment of second class “citizens” (ie. The Prawns).While both of Blomkamp’s films have large messages to tell, it seems as if Elysium’s is pushed a bit more than District 9’s. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad message or one that you should avoid. It isn’t enough to take you out of the film all together, but it’s certainly one you’ll be thinking about.

The film follows Max (Matt Damon), a citizen of Earth who’s always grown up with the dream of one day making it to Elysium. In present day, Max works in a factory that manufactures the robots used to police Earth and Elysium. One day, Max finds himself stuck in one of the chambers where the Robots are and becomes exposed to deadly radiation. When he awakens, he’s told very bluntly by a Medical Robot that he only has five days left to live. It’s then, that Max realizes that his only chance of survival is making it up to Elysium, where the wealthy have machines that can cure any disease, injury, or virus within mere moments.

Due to his “criminal” past, Max has ties to many people who run a smuggling group that tries to get people up to Elysium. Due to his dying state, he’s “gifted” a mechanical suit that will improve his motor skills and aid him on his journey. As Max is looking for a way up to Elysium, Defense Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster) of Elysium is looking for a way to change how things are run. She is in the middle of trying to change power of Elysium, when Max takes out her ally John Carlyle (William Fichtner) and manages to steal the data in his head.

In an effort to subdue Max, Secretary Rhodes calls upon the help of Kruger (Sharlto Copley), a maniac, rogue agent who kills for fun. She sends Kruger after Max in order to retrieve her data. Can Kruger eliminate Max before he realizes what he holds in his head? Will Max make it up to Elysium in time to save his own life? What’s going to happen to the fate of the people on Earth and Elysium?

To answer those questions, you’ll have to go see the film yourself. I don’t want to say anymore about the story because I briefly want to talk about Neill Blomkamp. The South African Director has chosen again, to film in South Africa and include many of the styles from there in his films. The visuals are astonishing and the many accents your hear are, as well. More than that, I love that he’s a Director who can tell such a political story in a manner that is still fun and engaging and isn’t afraid to do so. Most Directors would shy away from this, but Blomkamp puts so much passion into his work that you have to respect it. While the film can come off heavy handed from time to time, Elysium is still one of the finer movies I’ve seen this year that still packs a punch with its message. If you’re not yet convinced on whether or not you want to see this movie, please keep reading for my Top Ten Thoughts on Elysium!

In District 9, we rooted for the oppressed Prawns. Now, in Elysium, we root for the 99% left on Earth.
In District 9, we rooted for the oppressed Prawns. Now, in Elysium, we root for the 99% left on Earth.

What I Enjoyed

What I Didn’t Enjoy

This film is visually astounding!

The message in the film is brought up a lot.

The sociopolitical subject matter, similar to District 9’s, is a current event that connects well with viewers.

For some, the message of immigration, military, health care and the 99% might be a bit much. This film revolves around those issues set in the future.

I love Blomkamp’s look for Robots and future machinery. It’s so unlike most concepts we see.

Jodie Foster, as phenomenal of an actress as she is, seems very underdeveloped in this movie. She has potential, but is used more as a pawn.

This movie is full of awesome action, be it hand-to-hand combat or with futuristic technology.

We really don’t get to see enough of Kruger. A little backstory about him would have been amazing. He’s the most interesting character in the movie.

The concept of an Elysium Space Station is actually something that NASA has contemplated for the future, so it makes this film a lot more believable.

The film’s pacing is either very fast or very slow. Not that I don’t mind either, but certain scenes would seem to drag on, while the action heavy scenes were over fairly quickly.

Matt Damon gives us yet another reason as to why he’s one of the biggest and best stars out there. He’s fantastic in the film.

The film relies on a lot of storytelling, which at times may shadow over the cinematic beauty and action of the film.

Also fantastic, is South African actor Sharlto Copley, who starred in District 9 as well. His exposure from Blomkamp has been amazing and I can’t wait to see more from him.

The film tackles a lot of current world issues and tries to handle them all at once. To some, like me, I thought they were handled well. To others, I know it just seemed like too much for one movie.

Blomkamp’s ability to tell a story is amazing. He draws you in and actually takes the time to set up a good story with facts behind it.

There is some comedy in the film, mostly from Matt Damon, that gives this film a bit more life. Unfortunately, that comedy isn’t around for too long.

As far as a SciFi film goes, Elysium is one of the finer and truer SciFi films of late.

Some of the decision making in this movie didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. The decisions were unexplained, leaving you to wonder why they were made in the first place.

Elysium is an outstanding sophomoric effort from Neill Blomkamp and one of my favorite Action/SciFi movies of the year. In a word, it’s “Incredible”.

As awesome and as fun as Elysium is, its messages don’t quite stick as much as those from the significantly lesser budgeted District 9 did. They aren’t the same film, so please don’t go into Elysium thinking that.

Overall:

Elysium has every aspect of a Summer Blockbuster, but with a little more bite to it. We get a powerful story about current sociopolitical aspects set in a futuristic setting. The storytelling is masterful, but can sometimes push the film’s message a bit too much. The action and scenery are magnificent and the cast, for the most part, aid in telling this story of the oppressed left on Earth. It’s not as good as District 9, but it’s almost a different beast entirely, aside from the message pushing. While message heavy as it may be, Elysium offers lots of fun while maintaining a great story and a true SciFi feel!

Elysium Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QILNSgou5BY

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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