Sunday, 11 August 2013

Elysium



According to the new film, Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the world’s wealthiest people have the resources to help make the world a better place. Wow! I had no idea! Not only that, but the film suggests that the world’s wealthiest nations should be a little more generous with their immigration policies! Imagine! Really, Neill, don’t you think such earth-shattering revelations are a little over-the-top? Shouldn’t we stick to some common sense, even in a sci-fi film? Sigh. 

As already shown in his 2011 film, District 9, Blomkamp’s heart is in the right place but he suffers from an infuriating lack of imagination. Both of his films have a great concept and an important message, and they both start well, but Blomkamp just doesn’t know how to close the deal in a way that is believable, consistent or helpfully relevant to life in the 21st century. Specifically, he turns to redemptive violence of the worst kind (you know what I’m talking about - demonizing, killing off the baddies, etc.) to correct the wrongs of a world gone out of control.

That world is the Earth in 2154, a time when the wealthy have long since fled our diseased polluted planet and moved to a giant space station in orbit called Elysium. For some reason, the poor diseased masses who were left behind aren’t satisfied with their lot and continually try to find ways to get to Elysium. But the person in charge of security on Elysium is a hard-case named Delacourt (played by Jodie Foster) who sees herself as protecting the way of life of the folks on Elysium by making sure no one from Earth sets foot on the space station (or at least not for more than a few minutes). 

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Max (Matt Damon) is on parole and doing a monotonous job in a robot-building factory. It’s also a dangerous job and he gets injured in a way that only Elysium has the means to fix, so away we go. With a little imagination, this could have been an intelligent, thought-provoking film about the crazy world we live in, where so many suffer needlessly while so many others have far more than they need. Instead, we get a super-violent, simplistic, predictable cliched mess. So sad. 

Elysium looks good and the acting is okay - it just needs a story that actually gives us some realistic thoughtful options instead of violence. I’ll give it *** for the heart and the concept. Neill, I expect more next time. My mug is up but there's precious little inside.

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