Elysium (2013)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 11:10 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 6.6/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

ELYSIUM (2013) - Neill Blomkamp

The year is 2154, in which the human population is now split into two classes. The first class is the wealthy, who live on an advanced space station called Elysium, in which life is luxurious with no disease, poverty, or war, built by the Armadyne Corporation. The second class is everyone else, who live on an overpopulated, ravaged Earth.

Elysium revolves around Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), an ex-con who works in one of Armadyne's factories that manufacture robotic drones for Elysium. After being exposed to radiation in an accident, Max discovers that he has five days left to live. Desperate for help, he seeks the smuggler Spider, who agrees to help Max infiltrate Elysium to use a Med-Pod to cure himself, in exchange for stealing corporate information from Armadyne's CEO. In reaction to the attack, the Elysian government minister Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) deploys crazy mercenary Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to eliminate Elysium's threats.

As always, the film reveals how Neill Blomkamp flirts with apocalyptic polluted environments, addressing the current issues of the world today. For sure, the ravaged Earth here looks nearly identical to District 9, and the orbiting space station appears in the sky like something out of Mass Effect or Halo. This time, Elysium deals with immigration rights, class warfare, and health care -- themes as important as the ones discussed by District 9, if not more important.

The production design and visual effects are refreshingly original. Though the film is filled with advanced technology, they have all rusted, with dirt and fingerprints all over them, creating a sense that these tools have already been used a lot. Inevitably, this brings about a sense of reality to the future world and to the visual effects. A lot of times, something that is surely computer generated appears realistic because many actors are interacting with it. I will not be surprised if Elysium receives a nomination for Best Visual Effects.

In a satisfying but also disappointing way, the film brought up its themes in the first half of the film, but never sent the messages to the audience until its third act -- an explosive third act. The first and second acts, on the other hand, prioritized storytelling over everything else, and that is not a good sign if the characterization is not the strongest. Matt Damon's Max is enough to care about, but his relationship with his old friend Frey Santiago (Alice Braga) is not stable enough to convince. There is a story told by Frey's daughter though that will sure to get to you. Jodie Foster, on the other hand, is completely miscast. Any actress who knows how to deliver lines can play this role. Furthermore, there is nothing interesting to know about the Secretary of Defense, only that she keeps getting in the way of our protagonist. Sharlto Copley, holding a notorious reputation for playing crazy people, is unsurprisingly crazy here, but he portrays it with great panache and style. The way he looks at someone, how he walks and sweats -- it's like a malfunctioning Terminator with a raged personality and an entertaining accent.

If the first and second acts were shortened, and the third act is extended, then Elysium will become another District 9, a quiet masterpiece in Blomkamp's unique vision of science fiction. It wasn't until the third act where the film finally sells its viewpoints, commenting on the contemporary human condition and the rationing and corporate restriction of the distribution of health care. Without hesitating, I was blown away by Elysium's vision of the world's problems today. The slight problem is, I have been seeking it ever since the first half-hour.

In conclusion, Elysium is yet another astonishing achievement in Neill Blomkamp's career, as he explores important social themes that we face today. On a filmmaking basis, however, the film slogs on for about 70 minutes and comes together in a loud intense gritty climax. Fortunately, the climax sold well. But with some better polishing, it could have sold indefinitely. With Blomkamp's guidance as a director, Elysium is a gritty thoughtful film that aimed for the moon. Unfortunately, the film missed it. Then again, it landed on one of the stars.

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