After many crazy things this week my review for Elysium is finally here. Sorry to all for my extreme lateness. Needless to say I was extremely excited for this film. District 9, to me, was a refreshing science fiction movie that hooked me on all levels and I couldn’t wait to see what Neill Blomkamp would do next. That movie is here and its name is Elysium. But, Is TriStar’s and MRC’s Elysium worth the price of a ticket to the extremely shiny space ship? Well I would, at least, consider it.
Now, I love science fiction. I love the worlds that you can create, shape, or mold to tell a unique story or even one we already know just in a new way. Sci-fi is a great way to also hit on certain problems of today and educate the viewer in a way that is interesting. Take Idiocracy for example. A dystopian future where commercialism has practically taken over. Look at our world as it stands and relate it to some of the things shown in Idiocracy. It’s kind of funny how close society is to becoming that sort of state. That isn’t the only problem but I think you get my drift. Anyways, getting back on track, that is something that Mr. Blomkamp has shown that he is capable of in his two feature films and short films.
What is Elysium about, you may ask. Here is the synopsis straight from Sony. “In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon; Contagion, The Departed), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster; The Brave One, Panic Room) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.”
Sounds pretty cool right? Well that is because it is. Everything about the movie is really, really cool. The world itself and the underlying social message it brings. Topics such as immigration, societal status, and even health care. All are, in some way, present in this story in the same fashion as District 9.
Side note here: I might be bringing District 9 up in comparison to Elysium a good amount of times but that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not good as well.
I feel that Neill Blomkamp, as a director, is someone that everyone should look out for. I enjoy his vision when it comes to filmmaking and I believe five or six movies down in his career that he will become a household name like Nolan or Fincher. When I first watched Alive in Joburg I really believed that this was someone I wanted to see more films from. The merge of reality and fantasy in a realistic setting with problems we face today were amazing to me. I knew that this was someone we needed to watch down the road. Then it happened, Halo. Neill Blomkamp was announced to be the director of the Halo movie. I was ecstatic. I felt he had the perfect vision for the world of Halo and I didn’t want anyone else to touch it. That fell through and we were given District 9. Something I believe that really took everyone by surprise at just how real it felt. How real the emotion for these extraterrestrial refugees of sorts that are stuck on our planet and forced to live in conditions worse than we could imagine. Yet this type of situation continues today, in our world. Not the science fiction world. That emotion that District 9 brought was great and has sealed Mr. Blomkamp as a director to watch for.
Again, visually the film is top notch. From the wasteland look and feel of Earth to the beautiful, shiny landscape of Elysium everything felt realistic and futuristic at the same time. That, right there, is my favorite type of sci-fi. The type where you can actually see in whatever year the world is set in, for example in Elysium the year is 2154, that when we reach that year I can see our world becoming like their world. Every shot, every frame was like a masterpiece in its own right. I could frame the opening shot of the ruined L.A. buildings because I thought it was just absolutely beautiful.
The casting was great. I actually felt that Matt Damon fit into this role nicely. I’m not the biggest fan of Matt Damon, but there was not one time where I wanted to claw my eyes out from his performance. Nothing really needs to be said about Jodie Foster except Jodie Foster being a badass. But let’s be real here. Sharlto Copley. OH, Sharlto Copley. His character, that voice, his entire introduction. Oh man. How I loved it. I loved his character all the way to his death. Well, the whole,” You make me wanna settle down,” was a little…. Oh dear, but other than that. I personally think he had some of the best lines in this film. While watching it I even made my own fan theory about how Elysium and District 9 are connected. Many people do not enjoy him or his voice but I think he is pretty great. Diego Luna, Alice Braga, and William Fichtner also pull off some pretty great performances as well.
I want a small mention of the soundtrack in this film which is really, really good. This was the first movie composed by Ryan Amon and I think we should be seeing (or hearing) more from him very soon. Very well done.
Matilda’s story, around the third act, to Max. This part seemed extremely unneeded. The story is about a hippo and a meerkat or something and a tree with an apple. How they need to work together to get the fruit and the meerkat really just wanting a friend or something. I can’t fully remember because it was so meaningless to everything else. It was as if this story was put in there to make sure the people in the audience who didn’t understand the social message underneath the film could, at least, catch up before the final act. Honestly the social message was blatant since the very beginning. It was as if the message was holding neon signs with neon colored balloons tied to its wrist as it dances next to three wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men. I’m sorry for that but it’s true.
The ugliest thing about this film is that it tries too hard to be District 9. There was no way it could be another one. Honestly I think everyone is really waiting for a true sequel to District 9 more than anything. HE SAID HE WOULD BE BACK IN THREE YEARS! IT’S GOING ON SIX NOW MISTER! YOU PROMISED! …Excuse me. I don’t know where that came from. Pardon. Anyways, District 9 had a magic that really couldn’t be copied and you can tell that this film is moving away from that magic but at the same time roping itself back in without knowing. It just felt like it could have used a little more time trying to figure out more about itself than what was shown to us. It just needed… something. I still can’t place it.
Also…. While we are at it.
The medical bays in the end. They just so happen to have three ships with that many medical bays online, working, and on standby? That kind of annoyed me. I do understand its meaning but it felt a little too cliché.
I did enjoy Elysium. This was a summer movie that really leaves you with questions. What I enjoyed most about District 9 is the conversation you can have with your friends after it. Not only about the movie but the meaning behind it. That experience that sort of makes the movie that more real. That interactivity that brings the viewer that much closer to the real problems we face today. You can still do that with Elysium but it just didn’t feel sincere. Either way, I must give a score. This one is a little harder than most. I like a lot about the movie but it’s also not a great movie. Worth a watch but as re-watchable as District 9.