Review: Elysium (2013)

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Elysium

Director: Neil Blomkamp

Stars: Jodie Foster, Matt Damon

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama

Elysium, a word so sexy you could mistake it for being the name for some new hybrid car series from Lexus, or one of Eliot Spitzer’s high-class escort’s. Not only would the word Elysium be appropriate for both cases, it is also suitable for Neil Blomkamps latest political sci-fi adventure:

Elysium, and its meaning, comes from ancient Greek Mythology. It was believed to be the place at the ends of the earth to which was reserved for those who were chosen by the gods. It is a place or state of pure and perfect happiness. Blomkamp and company portray this idea beautifully in the film where we are teased throughout the whole movie of how the citizens on the habitat of Elysium live.

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I say teased because we are only offered brief snippets of time on this pristine space habitat that orbits the earth as much of the films plot-line is focused on the overpopulated and impoverished earth during the year 2154. You can probably take a guess anyways as to what the lifestyles of the wealthy on Elysium involve: Lavish and fancy dinner parties that consist of roast goose, pork lime jello, champagne and half-naked women and men splashing around in a climate controlled pool. However, it made sense that Blomkamp keeps this side of the story a mystery since this films plot mainly surrounds the character, and half anti-hero, Max (Matt Damon) who resides on earth. Here is the rundown of the situation.

Max, a rehabilitated – or at least reforming – ne’er-do-well who lives in the slums of 2154 Los Angeles, where overpopulation, smog and the exhaustion of resources have transformed L.A. into a sprawling third-world shantytown that looks like the poorest part’s of today’s Mexico City (where much of the movie was shot.) When an implausibly opportune workplace accident gives Max just five days to live, he must find a way to gain access to the well-defended city in the sky and get into one of Elysium’s high-tech medical beds, which can cure any type of disease or ailment, and rebuild flesh from scratch. In case this wasn’t motivation enough, Max’s childhood heartthrob Frey (Alice Braga) has a daughter in the late stages of leukemia, whom is also doomed if she can’t get plugged into one of Elysium’s miraculous tanning beds.

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Positioned between Max and deliverance is Delacourt (Jodie Foster), the space station’s ice-queen/be-atch of an administrator who vows to keep the unworthy out at all costs, and Kruger (District 9‘s Sharlto Copley), a psychotically charming sleeper agent under Delacourt’s employ.

At first glance it seems Blomkamp is setting us up on [www.E-sci-fi parable harmony.com] for a date with class and racial conflict – much of L.A.’s population is of vagabond status and Latino, while Elysium is abode to rich white folks living a life of carefree leisure who also happen to speak French as a second language-which was interesting yet was never fully explained-. However, this date ends with an escape out the bathroom window when Max agrees to earn his passage to Elysium. By having a robotic exoskeleton bolted onto his flesh and taking part in a plot to steal a brain-embedded memory chip from a douche of a CEO (William Fichtner), Elysium begins a steady march into the mechanical and occasionally silly – albeit visually glittering – action.

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Elysium gets a solid B Rating:

District 9 showed us that Blomkamp is smarter and more creative than this, which is why Elysium to this reviewer was ultimately a tad disappointing. The movie flirts like a sorority girl with topics such as universal health care and distribution of wealth, but strays off before really saying anything of value. Despite all this, Elysium is entertaining and well-paced, and the mouth-watering visual effects and artistic design help distract from the plot holes and histrionics. Nobody knows how to apply grit and grime to futuristic settings quite like Blomkamp. Maybe next time he’ll smear more brains on the plot, rather than all over the screen.

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