Elysium review: Do you want to visit Elysium?

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I’ve been following director Neill Blomkamp since his Halo live-action shorts for Halo 3. This led to him working on a live-action Halo movie that fell apart. Soon after he proceeded to directing and writing one of my favorite sci-fi movies, District 9, which received great reviews from critics and audiences. It was an emotional tale with gory action and a nice message. The visual effects rivaled big-budgeted movies (the budget was only $30 million).

With a solid sci-fi movie under his belt, I was really looking forward to watching Blomkamp’s latest film, Elysium.

District 9 touched upon the issue of equality. With Elysium, the story parallels what’s happening now with illegal immigrants crossing the Mexico-US border. In the future, the Earth becomes a shitty place to live in. It’s filled with overpopulation and pollution, and all the rich people moved out of Earth and into a space station called Elysium. It’s got a lovely scenery, and the coolest thing is that you heal yourself with ease. With this technology, you can bet your ass the poor and ill people of Earth will try to desperately find a way to get to Elysium. In the future, the illegals will be using unidentified space ships. Yeah, they’re getting high tech.

The movie stars Matt Damon as Max, a guy who’s trying to live a clean life as a factory worker after being in prison. Los Angeles is now a megacity, and it seems like the hispanics have taken over, since mostly everyone around Max speaks Spanish.

Between working and meeting his old childhood friend, nothing much really happens to advance the plot forward, that is until an accident at work happened, giving Max only a short amount of time to live. Because of this, he’s desperate to go to Elysium to heal himself, and he’ll do anything to make that happen.

One of my favorite characters in the movie is Spider, who’s played by actor Wagner Moura. Spider is the man in charge of sneaking illegals to Elysium. He’s got a whole operation…like a ghetto version of NASA, but it does the job. Max has limited options, and it’s thanks to Spider that he’s able to get a cool mechanical suit that gives him enhanced strength and the ability to store data in his head. With his new mechanical suit, he can now do a mission for Spider to help retrieve a way for illegals to get to Elysium.

The ability to have illegals enter Elysium…it takes forever for Max to get to that point. Once we reach that point, that’s where the movie starts to get good. I was watching with a group if friends. One friend fell asleep, and the other tried to stay awake. It felt long, and the movie could have greatly benefited from being condensed.

I’ve enjoyed Sharlto Copley’s in the past and was looking forward to seeing him on screen again as one of the main antagonists, Kruger. That was met with disappointment, since he mostly rambles throughout the movie, and I could hardly understand him most of the time due to his accent. Jodie Foster plays the person in charge of Elysium’s defense. She also had an accent that bugged me throughout the whole movie.

The relationship between Max and his childhood female friend, Frey, felt like a tacked on subplot to try to create an emotional response. Again, after watching the CG alien dad and son’s relationship in Disctrict 9, I was expecting more from actual actors that you can see on screen. We would see flashbacks of their childhood as we’re suppose to understand that these two are suppose to have a strong relationship. I wasn’t invested in this subplot, and that determined whether I care about the ending or not (I didn’t).

The majority of the movie was too busy setting up Max’s trip to Elysium that it forgot to make a lot of the scenes enjoyable. I enjoyed the visuals, but they aren’t enough to make this an entertaining movie.

Grade: C

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10488 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.