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Dir: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley
4.00 out of 5.00
Movie Review — “Elysium”
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 8/14/2013
Director Neill Blomkamp composed one of science fiction’s better films with his socially conscious, visually stunning 2009 film “District 9.” Blomkamp’s portrait of the future was bleak and grimy. Earth was a planet on the brink of extinction. “District 9” established this world with an alien arrival; the treatment of the aliens and structure of the society reflecting the South African apartheid was intelligent and worthy of an Oscar best picture nomination.
“Elysium” cultivated a separate story with a far heavier hand on social commentary aiming at the topics of immigration and healthcare. And, while more gruesome and straightforward than “District 9,” Blomkamp designed another visually impressive film that narrates a simplistic tale with the entertainment of a well-designed action film.
In the year 2154, the world is divided into the have and the have-nots. Those that are privileged enough live on an orbiting city called Elysium. This society lives without illness, being able to jump into healing machines for nearly any cure. On Earth, specifically Los Angeles, society functions for pure survival. Crime is high, living conditions are dire, and medical services are under staffed and overpopulated with sickness. Max (Matt Damon) is an ex-con, working in a factory that manufactures law-enforcing robots. Max is permanently injured on the job and dismissed by the large company he works for, a company controlled by the government on Elysium. Working with limited time, Max joins a local gang in hopes of jumping on a shuttle to Elysium in order to heal his sickness. On his mission, Max is inadvertently forced into a position that makes him humanity’s hope for survival.
Good science fiction most always interweaves elements of reflective advisory; whether individual or societal, the underlying emphasis is supported by the elaborate superficial elements. On the surface, “Elysium” resembles the lesser-known “Johnny Mnemonic.” The narrative undertones feel more acquainted to H.G. Wells’ “Things To Come,” though not as intelligent as the classic film.
In lieu of deeper exploration into the intriguing initial narrative concepts, Blomkamp instead focuses the remainder of the film on elaborate gadgetry and stylistic action. While this isn’t a bad decision considering the skillful design of the supporting elements, it would have been interesting to see where this film would have gone if the premise would have continued with the fitting questions pointed at our current society.
Matt Damon does a great job of holding the film together. His character Max must compose a quality that is both selfish and selfless, all while being somewhat hostile and aggressive. Damon has a likable trait, and he shines in the lead of this film. Sharlto Copley is Kruger, a cartoonish combative bounty hunter to Elysium’s government. His snarling bad guy is over-the-top but Copley is great in the role, the complete opposite of his “District 9” character. Jodie Foster plays a homeland security director named Delacourt with an unfortunate forced coldness and poor accent. The scenes for the award-winning actress come across more awkward than accommodating.
“Elysium” was an enjoyable science fiction film. There were elements that felt unique even though they’ve been done before, but Blomkamp is accomplished at implementing them appropriately into his story. Though it doesn’t have the depth or emotion of “District 9,” the design is creative and the result is a positive effort amongst recent science fiction films.