Elysium – Review

Baldy Matt Damon fights the power

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Year: 2013
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley

Imagine you lived in a total shit-hole – this may be easier for some of you than others.  Now what if every night you looked up into the sky and saw a place where there was no sickness or poverty? Well that place is Elysium. Everyone there is happy and beautiful, kind of like an orbiting Sweden. Earth on the other hand is more like modern day Detroit (too soon?).

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It’s nothing like Halo, honest

Matt Damon plays Max one of the poor Earth citizens. After getting sick following a workplace accident (I spilled a pot noodle on my keyboard once but you don’t see me crying) he attempts to get to Elysium for some life saving treatment. Unfortunately the leaders on Elysium send a mentally unstable mercenary named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to stop him getting there.

I think it’s fair to say Elysium is a film of two halves – the Earth based stuff and the Elysium section and it becomes obvious which is more interesting. Sadly the part set on the surface of our planet mainly consists of blunt political metaphors with little to no interesting events taking place.

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Is the movie about the gap between the rich and the poor? Is it about socialised medicine? Is it about immigration? It tries to be all of these but never actually convinces. The message seems to be ‘if you see someone with more money than you, you have every right to take some of it.’ Neil Blomkamp’s previous movie District 9 took the issue of immigration and embedded it in an exhilarating story full of great characters. Elysium fails in this regard.

What the film does right though is the design of the world. Just like District 9, the technology shown is amazingly intricate. There’s no super shiny Jetsons style futuristic machinery. This is all grubby, used, practical equipment that makes the world feel totally real.

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A photo of Kruger – for the ladies

Throughout the film there are flashes of brilliance mainly in Copley’s unhinged villain who somehow becomes crazier as the movie goes on and the inventive action set pieces.  However these just serve to remind you how turgid a lot of the film has been.  These are the moments that we all wanted from a Blomkamp film, it’s just a pity they hadn’t been bolted into a better plot and script.

Elysium is an average sci-fi movie elevated by fantastic production design and bursts of memorable action. But as a story it’s too damn preachy and unfocused. Maybe if Blomkamp had kept the plot simpler and shorter it could have been something special. Instead it’s a disappointment.

5/10

What are your thoughts on Elysium? Let me know in the comments below.

25 comments

  1. Aww man, I wanted to see this one and was hoping that it would be good. But I guess I’m not surprised. The sci-fi genre these days seems to be more about creating expansive action sequences and less about offering thought-provoking views into the future. I miss the good old days, that’s for sure. Great review!

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  2. District 9 will forever haunt Blomkamp, i feel. hahaha its so easy to make comparisons to his debut film which did so well, but I’ve gotta say this is a completely different movie and should be evaluated as such. it’s too bad you didn’t enjoy this more, though i fully agree with your points, some of which were hilarious by the way. i liked it, though a few huge factors came into play which really did disappoint me as well (cough-cough, Jodie Foster cough-cough). I do also have to say the messages being delivered here were not handled as subtly or as creatively as they were in District 9, and that’s a fair comparison. i guess no one else is making any other assertions, but i’ve just seen it so many times, i’m like. . . c’mon, maaannn…… haha.

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    • You’re right Tom, I was probably a bit harsh but I guess that’s just because of my disappointment. I don’t think its a bad film, just a totally average one. I started thinking that the problem may have been giving Blomkamp a huge budget. Maybe District 9 was amazing because of its tight budget. All I know is I don’t have any desire to watch it again.

      Thanks for the comment Tom, I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying

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      • nah, i don’t think it was harsh.certainly there’s a place for negative views on it!! i think the more i see people citing District 9 for comparison’s sake, the more i think that movie was truly something special.

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  3. Ouch! Pretty low score. :-/ Was probably my most anticipated film this year but then all the reviews of it being “meh” poured in from America (why do they have to get films way before we do here?!). Oh well – still want to check it out.

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  4. Nice Review Mikey. I found the whole thing a bit shambolic, promising and interesting ideas were teased at the beginning but never followed up, instead thrown to the wayside in favour for poorly executed action sequence after action sequence. These scenes were patched together and the quick cut technique (were you could not make head nor tail of what was going on) were nothing more than a headache to watch. Must try harder Mr Blomkamp. Nice review all the same dude. Stop by Movie Review World sometime if you get the chance. Heres my take on Elysium http://www.moviereviewworld.com/movie-review/elysium-review/

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  5. 5 outta 10! You are having a larf innit blud.

    It was very enjoyable. Yes, a little too heavy on metaphor, and way too much superfluous lens flared, soft focus flashback sequences. But when it was down and dirty sci fi barrio gun fights I was gripped!

    Loved Kruger (he is like austin stevens evil brother). Hated Foster.

    Better than district 9 I’d say. No alien and man buddy comedy crap.

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