Jennie’s Review: Elysium

Letter Grade:

The Good:

All of the visuals are wonderful
The fight and action sequences
Throwback Sci-Fi

The Bad:

A bit predictable
Jodie Foster's accent and line delivery

Cast & Crew:

Written and Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Stars:Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Sharlto Cople

Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout

Mostly set in the 22nd century, Elysium begins with a brief history of the world becoming beyond over populated and generally ruined at the end of the 21st.  We learn that those with substantial means have fled to a space station habitat called Elysium (according to the movies promotional website, homes on Elysium start at $250,000,000). There is no crime on Elysium as every home is serviced by a personalized advanced security robot.  There is no disease or injury because every home is equipped with a medbay that cures (almost instantly) any disease or ailment known to man.  We then meet young Max who is being raised in an orphanage on Earth run by nuns.  As a child, Max is caught stealing, to save up for a ticket to Elysium.  One of the Nuns takes him aside and tells him that he is destined for bigger things and that even though Elysium looks beautiful from his viewpoint, she reminds him how beautiful Earth looks from up there.  She then gives him a locket with a picture of Earth from space in it.  This was apparently a powerful gesture as he holds onto this token into his adult life.  Despite this though, he does still fall into a life of crime as an adult (played by Matt Damon) and serves some time in jail for stealing cars.  He is trying to make an honest living and get his life on track when an accident involving a lethal dose of radiation sets a new course for his life.

951023 - ElysiumThe storyline is very reminiscent of old school sci-fi.  It seems like something that could have been written by Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, or H.G. Wells.  While the nostalgic type of plot is refreshing (as opposed to Transformers….any of them), it also makes it pretty predictable.  Luckily there are plenty of specific moments in the movie that are very unpredictable.  At no point was I bored with this movie.  Also thankfully, this movie is not weighed down with elaborate explanations as to how everything works or is possible.  While that sort of thing works (and can be helpful) in novels, in film, it usually (a) doesn’t actually explain things well, and (b) destroys any sort of momentum that the movie had going for it.  I appreciate a sci-fi or fantasy movie that says “this is the reality in which these characters live in – and go.”

Everything about this movie looks great.  There must be a ton of CGI, and not once did I think anything looked fake.  The advanced weaponry, technology, and robots, are well thought out and look realistic and make sense in the world that Director Neill Blomkamp created. He certainly doesn’t shy away from blowing up human (or humanoid in District 9) characters.  It’s done well and very graphically, like it would probably be if a grenade went off near someone’s head or was implanted in their chest.  There’s a scene in the film Saving Private Ryan where one of the soldiers is accidentally blown up by his own sticky bomb.  The way Blomkamp portrays this type of violence is very similar.  Every visual detail worked and was obviously treated with a lot of care. This is a minor thing (or not even noticeable thing) for most people, but I really am impressed by makeup artists who can effectively apply realistic looking tattoos.  Especially the kind that would probably would have been done in very low income circumstances or jail, like the premise suggests for Damon’s.

951023 - ElysiumDamon does a great job as a surly nothing-to-lose kind of guy.  His character seems real.  He is not all rough, or stoic, he smiles occasionally and delivers a few convincingly funny lines. As far as the writing and delivery, his is probably the best out of all the characters.  Jodie Foster on the other hand is a bit underwhelming as Secretary of Defense on Elysium, Jessica Delacourt.  All of her lines are delivered in a strange accent and flatly throughout the entire movie.  I guess that can be interpreted that she is supposed to be lacking in any sort human emotion, but I still found it distracting.  Sharlto Cople (who was the lead in Blomkamp’s critically acclaimed District 9) plays an earthbound mercenary type character who works for Delacourt, and has no problem violating human rights and destroying everything in his path.  Cople’s portrait is perfect as this sadistic and violent character.

951023 - ElysiumIn general, I am very impressed with Blomkamp.  He not only directed both this movie and District 9, he wrote the screenplays for both.  That means the story, the look, the characters, everything is starting out from somewhere in his imagination.  These 2 films are his only feature length films (so far) and I greatly look forward to what he has yet to come.  The movie is rated R for good reason, there is a lot of swearing and the violence is very graphic.  But, if that is your type of movie, I would definitely recommend it.  Even though as I mentioned before, the story itself isn’t mind blowing, it is still well worth the price of admission.

*Photos courtesy of Columbia Tristar

Jennie Stoddart (24 Posts)

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