Elysium – Review

Elysium

                The film opens on the dystopian wasteland that Earth has become with the tag “diseased, polluted and overpopulated.”This is immediately followed by the lush, green landscapes of Elysium; lined with multi-million dollar houses similar to those of Hollywood celebrities built into the hillsides of California. The vast contrast of life for the haves and have-nots made very clear. The year is 2154 and Earth has been brought to ruin by human errors. Now the wealthiest 1% lives in a luxurious space station called Elysium, which is (semi-forcefully) supported by the impoverished 99% left on Earth.

                The second feature film from District 9 writer/director Neill Blomkamp, Elysium (like District 9) sets its social/political theme in a science-fiction landscape. Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was this summer’s big special effects blockbuster, but Elysium goes well beyond just eye-candy. Here you not only get amazing special effects, but a well told story as well. The film never lets up on intensity and even is very careful to not let the heart of the storyline turn into cheesy melodrama (as too many films do).

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                Matt Damon plays Max, our earthbound anti-hero. Not always a fan of Damon’s – seeing him as just an average actor- this, in my opinion, is easily one of his standout performances. Sharlto Copley, who gave a brilliant performance as Wikus in District 9, returns here as the rogue black-ops agent Kruger. Once again, Copley gives us an exhilarating performance. Jodie Foster plays secretary Delacourt, the hard-edged defense for Elysium’s continued segregation. Foster, however, was the films weakest element; once again, giving us an over-acted, stale and rigid performance. One of the films highlights was Ryan Amon’s original score and added audio accents. Specifically, the accents really gave a futuristic intensity to the film.

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                Although, it was no District 9, Elysium is still a solid sophomore flick. It was definitely enough to make me want to see whatever Neill Blomkamp does next. It is not quite as smart as D9, but is vastly more intelligent than most of the sci-fi fodder we get nowadays (see: Avatar, Transformers, etc…). Blomkamp uses this genre as it should be – to mirror our society, and heed a warning to the errors of our ways (see: George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, etc…). So far, Elysium, though not perfect, is the best film I’ve seen this year.

Dan Glennon 8.9.13

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