Just four years between Neill Blomkamp’s incredible District 9 and his similarly structured Elysium. It’s tough to judge his latest venture without comparing it to the 2009 smash hit. You have the two contrasting worlds, the use of non-human characters and the brilliance that is Sharlto Copley. A small number of rich people live an idealistic lifestyle visibly far from Earth, where the not so rich people are overpopulating the land and struggling to get by. The story follows the journey of Max (Matt Damon) who’s about to die and needs to get to Elysium if he wants any chance of staying alive. Unfortunately, Max’s story is neither engaging nor exciting.
Elysium begins with few flashbacks of Max’s childhood, where he promises his girl-friend that one day he’ll take her to planet Utopia. It sets up a few dialogues that will predictably be used in the latter stages. However, not once throughout the body of the story does Blomkamp look to enhance this love story; with only some minor references made towards the climax. Max
tragic accident at work and gets told that he has a few days to live. His
motive is to get to Elysium and use their excellent healthcare to heal himself and
that’s the story in a nutshell. The focus on Max took way too much away from
the excellent potential that this movie had with it. Blomkamp said in an
interview that Elysium is reflective of today’s human condition; but following
the selfish journey of the central character makes no political references or
comments on society. Unless he wants to say that every single one of us – rich
and poor – are selfish people. In which case, it’s a poor comment to make. Some
more background into how the two worlds separated from each other is beckoning
at the earlier stages. Furthermore, why is Earth only filmed in one location?
To portray overpopulation, wouldn’t it have been wise to make reference to more
than one city, more than one country, more than one continent?
|taken from miami.com|
The scenes at Elysium were aesthetically beautiful and hats off to the designers who clearly had their work cut out. The action scenes were well choreographed. Jodie Foster was good as the intimidating defence secretary and Matt Damon give some heart to his unjust character. I’m disappointed with the use of Sharlto Copley. His excellent delivery and charming accent is made to look awkward when they turn him into a monster. Another problem is that none of the characters seem to be justified as to why they are the way they are.
Elysium fails terribly for three reasons: 1) the story of Max is a selfish one that isn’t engaging whatsoever, 2) there is too much going on that doesn’t matter with barely any real focus on the two worlds and 3) compared to District 9, it’s a million miles apart. At best, this is an okay popcorn entertainer with some excellent visuals. Otherwise a wasted opportunity to pull some political strings and provide a much needed Sci-Fi classic.