Action / Drama
Action / Drama
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. Secretary Delacourt, a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that, if successful, will not only save his life but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
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November 26, 2013 at 10:11 am
Liked the CGI and sets, but didn't like the story
What seems to be a trend in big budget SF films occurred, once again, in Elysium. I'm continually impressed with what is being created (visual effects wise)today, but remain disappointed when it comes to the associated screenplays/plot lines. At the end of this film, I had the same, perpetual feeling that no one out there making SF films gets the message: without a good story, you don't have a really good film. Elysium hearkens me back to Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott. I would have thought he, at least, would appreciate the need for a good story to match the visuals. Especially after being the brains behind Bladerunner. But, oh no - same thing. I suspect that so much talent and expense is spent on the visuals that insufficient amounts of funding and time are left for the associated story.
I just wish that, when someone comes up with future plans for making a legitimate SF film (sans comic book scenarios), they contract a real science fiction author to write the screenplay. There are any number of SF writers out there that can, I believe, turn out much better scripts than currently making their way to the big screen.
Bottom line: the world building in Elysium was excellent. Probably some of the best since Avatar. I wish there had been some of this when Bladerunner was produced. As an avid, and long time fan of true science fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the film. As for the story, it could have been a lot, lot better.
It is flawed and by no means anywhere near on the same level as D9 but its solid entertainment and a smarter than average sci/fi film.
Matt Damon stars in the Sci-fi/political thriller Elysium, Neill Blomkamp's follow up to District 9, along with Jodie Foster as Elysium's Secretary Delacourt and Sharlto Copley as the main villain Kruger. Is Elysium on par with Oscar nominated District 9? Absolutely NOT! Not even close but it is still a solid sci/fi entertainment. It is a more conventional film than its predecessor, which I was not expecting from Blomkamp.
The film starts of very cliche and gave me some eye roll moments but it quickly picks itself up from reaching into mediocrity. They way it does this is by evoking political messages through out the film in relevance with today's society. Questioning our handling with immigration, military power, our health care. Which I found to be important in this film. Obviously me and Blomkamp share each others political stance. For anyone else it might seem like its trying to oversell its message.
I felt most of the cast were very under used. Jodie Foster's character really didn't have much to work with. She was just there to move the plot forward. Matt Damon served his purpose as the lead but by no means of the imagination is this one of his best performances. They were all over shadowed by Sharlto Copley. My God, is he great as Kruger! Right away we are introduced into this provocative-sociopath with no regard for human life. The story really needed this kind of menacing character. He is by far the film's best positive. Another negative aspect of this film would be its pacing. When we are given emotional scenes they don't stay long enough to settle and doesn't give that emotional impact you were hoping for.
Like District 9 it delivers on the the beautiful imagery. Using the very best Weta Workshop has to offer. From its big guns to the human-like robots, to the space station of Elysium. The action set pieces were just as exciting as its predecessor. The film really manages to capture all its budget on screen. My biggest issue comes from the excessive use of shaky cam. It was used when the characters were simply walking to the action sequences. I felt ninety percent of this film was shaky cam. Which got me a little dizzy since I ,unfortunately, got to sit in the very front of the theater. That might have something to do with it as well.
Neill Blomkamp has established once again that he can compete with the best Directors of the genre films. Elysium shows more flaws than his first film but they are overwhelmed by its positive aspects, to me at least. It was not a disappointment and it was a solid popcorn entertainment and a smarter than average sci/fi film.
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Elysium is visually gorgeous but its story and characters left me cold and disappointed
After director Neill Blomkamp's fantastic debut film District 9 I was understandably eager to see his new sci-fi film Elysium. Unfortunately his second feature doesn't quite match up with the greatness that was District 9.
Visually the film is quite stunning and it has some great cinematography when it comes to the larger shots. The CGI effects are excellent and blend in well with the environment. The Earth of the film looks very gritty, believable and lived-in and the space station Elysium has this very sterile and futuristic look to it. You could really buy it that Earth could look like this with many decades of neglect and poverty. Everything's in disrepair and in decline. The rich on the other hand have every resource available to them in their own little paradise in space. The set and production designers truly did a great job with the locations.
Matt Damon is decent as the film's protagonist Max who is an ex-con now working on assembling the droids which keep order on the now overpopulated Earth. His role and the writing of his character isn't anything too special or memorable but he does what he can with it. He's just a no nonsense guy who is thrown into a difficult situation. He was also quite sarcastic and funny when he was dealing with the droids in the earlier part of the film but we didn't see this side of him at all after that. Alice Braga plays Max's childhood friend Frey with whom Max meets up again when he's an adult. I didn't feel much of an emotional connection or chemistry between them though and that hampered the film a bit. Their back story is told almost completely in sentimental flashback sequences which I didn't care for. The antagonists in this film were very one-dimensional and over the top. Jodie Foster plays Elysium's defense minister Delacourt and Sharlto Copley (who was also in District 9) plays an undercover agent named Kruger who is positioned on Earth. They're both very cliche and uninteresting. The writing of all the characters wasn't very good at all in this film and I didn't get emotionally invested in any of them.
The story isn't that great either and this then also takes away from the film's many action sequences because we don't have that big a stake in them. The film starts quite strongly as it juxtaposes the situation on Earth and on Elysium to highlight the problems of social and economic inequality. Then suddenly when the action starts, these issues fade far in to the background in favor of more and more action. From the trailers and the hype I really got this impression that the film would deal with these issues in a thoughtful manner. Regrettably this is not the case with this film. A big problem with the film is also that none of the characters seems to learn anything new or change their beliefs or anything like that. A huge part of the success of District 9 was in seeing how the main character evolved after spending some time with the aliens. In Elysium the good guys are the good guys and bad guys are the bad guys. There's no complexity, nuance or subtlety in any of them. We also don't get to meet any other citizens of Elysium beside the higher up leaders like defense minister Delacourt and president Patel. It would've been interesting to see the common people of Elysium and how they react to the situation, what their beliefs are and what drives them. The writing is also a little too pointed out and heavy-handed. Some of it just made me think "Wow, really?". For example, at one point the CEO of the droid production company literally tells some mid-level manager not to breathe at his direction. Things also seem to happen way too conveniently to push the plot along. Then again you could say this about many films but you really start to pay attention to these things when you're not completely engrossed in the film. This film surely would've benefited from a more subtle approach. The ending was also way too simplistic for my taste.
The action in this film is quite intense and it looks very impressive at times. The exoskeletons were fun and looked convincing. Then comes the shaky cam. Oh boy. It's really quite annoying and very often it's hard to see what's going on. They should've really taken a page from the Bourne movies on how to shoot action scenes. Luckily the shaky cam isn't there all the time but the action could've definitely been improved with a clearer shooting style.
All in all, the film has decent action with absolutely gorgeous visuals and it moves along at a good pace. Sadly the writing, the plot and the characters aren't that interesting and it's hard to get emotionally invested in this film. It's watchable and probably quite entertaining if you're in the proper mood for it. For me, the film ultimately left me a bit cold and disappointed.