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After director Neill Blomkamp's fantastic debut film District 9 I was
understandably eager to see his new sci-fi film Elysium. Unfortunately
his second feature doesn't quite match up with the greatness that was
Visually the film is quite stunning and it has some great cinematography when it comes to the larger shots. The CGI effects are excellent and blend in well with the environment. The Earth of the film looks very gritty, believable and lived-in and the space station Elysium has this very sterile and futuristic look to it. You could really buy it that Earth could look like this with many decades of neglect and poverty. Everything's in disrepair and in decline. The rich on the other hand have every resource available to them in their own little paradise in space. The set and production designers truly did a great job with the locations.
Matt Damon is decent as the film's protagonist Max who is an ex-con now working on assembling the droids which keep order on the now overpopulated Earth. His role and the writing of his character isn't anything too special or memorable but he does what he can with it. He's just a no nonsense guy who is thrown into a difficult situation. He was also quite sarcastic and funny when he was dealing with the droids in the earlier part of the film but we didn't see this side of him at all after that. Alice Braga plays Max's childhood friend Frey with whom Max meets up again when he's an adult. I didn't feel much of an emotional connection or chemistry between them though and that hampered the film a bit. Their back story is told almost completely in sentimental flashback sequences which I didn't care for. The antagonists in this film were very one-dimensional and over the top. Jodie Foster plays Elysium's defense minister Delacourt and Sharlto Copley (who was also in District 9) plays an undercover agent named Kruger who is positioned on Earth. They're both very cliché and uninteresting. The writing of all the characters wasn't very good at all in this film and I didn't get emotionally invested in any of them.
The story isn't that great either and this then also takes away from the film's many action sequences because we don't have that big a stake in them. The film starts quite strongly as it juxtaposes the situation on Earth and on Elysium to highlight the problems of social and economic inequality. Then suddenly when the action starts, these issues fade far in to the background in favor of more and more action. From the trailers and the hype I really got this impression that the film would deal with these issues in a thoughtful manner. Regrettably this is not the case with this film. A big problem with the film is also that none of the characters seems to learn anything new or change their beliefs or anything like that. A huge part of the success of District 9 was in seeing how the main character evolved after spending some time with the aliens. In Elysium the good guys are the good guys and bad guys are the bad guys. There's no complexity, nuance or subtlety in any of them. We also don't get to meet any other citizens of Elysium beside the higher up leaders like defense minister Delacourt and president Patel. It would've been interesting to see the common people of Elysium and how they react to the situation, what their beliefs are and what drives them. The writing is also a little too pointed out and heavy-handed. Some of it just made me think "Wow, really?". For example, at one point the CEO of the droid production company literally tells some mid-level manager not to breathe at his direction. Things also seem to happen way too conveniently to push the plot along. Then again you could say this about many films but you really start to pay attention to these things when you're not completely engrossed in the film. This film surely would've benefited from a more subtle approach. The ending was also way too simplistic for my taste.
The action in this film is quite intense and it looks very impressive at times. The exoskeletons were fun and looked convincing. Then comes the shaky cam. Oh boy. It's really quite annoying and very often it's hard to see what's going on. They should've really taken a page from the Bourne movies on how to shoot action scenes. Luckily the shaky cam isn't there all the time but the action could've definitely been improved with a clearer shooting style.
All in all, the film has decent action with absolutely gorgeous visuals and it moves along at a good pace. Sadly the writing, the plot and the characters aren't that interesting and it's hard to get emotionally invested in this film. It's watchable and probably quite entertaining if you're in the proper mood for it. For me, the film ultimately left me a bit cold and disappointed.
What seems to be a trend in big budget SF films occurred, once again,
in Elysium. I'm continually impressed with what is being created
(visual effects wise)today, but remain disappointed when it comes to
the associated screenplays/plot lines. At the end of this film, I had
the same, perpetual feeling that no one out there making SF films gets
the message: without a good story, you don't have a really good film.
Elysium hearkens me back to Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott. I
would have thought he, at least, would appreciate the need for a good
story to match the visuals. Especially after being the brains behind
Bladerunner. But, oh no - same thing. I suspect that so much talent and
expense is spent on the visuals that insufficient amounts of funding
and time are left for the associated story.
I just wish that, when someone comes up with future plans for making a legitimate SF film (sans comic book scenarios), they contract a real science fiction author to write the screenplay. There are any number of SF writers out there that can, I believe, turn out much better scripts than currently making their way to the big screen.
Bottom line: the world building in Elysium was excellent. Probably some of the best since Avatar. I wish there had been some of this when Bladerunner was produced. As an avid, and long time fan of true science fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the film. As for the story, it could have been a lot, lot better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was such a colossal failure on so many levels. I don't
usually write reviews for movies, but this monstrosity was so atrocious
that I felt compelled to warn unsuspecting potential viewers of the
steaming pile of sewage that is referred to as "Elysium".
Where to start
First off, the plot was a laughingstock. Even if you can ignore the choppy camera-work that looks like the doings of a toddler with a buffed up camera, there's no ignoring the plot. Some examples of the numerous holes in the plot 1) Apparently, if a grenade gets blown up inches from your head, your brain is still intact and it can be repaired at Elysium. 2) If Carlyle could make the code to make Jodie Foster president, then why didn't he just make himself president or give himself all the power, by implementing the code himself or subtly adding a nuance in there? Not the sharpest tool in the shed. 3) Where are all the satellites to help track down Matt Damon while he is fleeing the villains? It seems some of the technology 100+ years in the future has actually regressed. 4) If the medical terminals can literally give a person a new head, through repairing a "brain", why can't they disable the sociopathic tendencies of characters like Jodie Foster on Elysium? Once again, only certain technology has evolved for the director's benefit. 5) In order to let one spaceship enter Elysium, you must allow all spaceships to enter too by taking down the no-fly zone. That makes total sense. 6) Last but certainly not least: the ending. Apparently everyone is going to live happily ever after on Elysium now? Every rich person on Elysium just wanted all those poor people on earth to suffer! But now the world is sugar plums and everyone lives happily! Yay!
Secondly, there was never any point in the film in which I felt connected to the characters in any matter. Why was this? Well, none of them had any depth. The dialogue was one cliché after another. The primary villain in the story appears to have some sort of speech impediment, because for most of the movie he is inaudible. A well-told story will also have a villain that has deeper complexities as to his/her background and motives. This character was just a bumbling moron. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster did the best that they could, but their scripts were so poor that it would have been more interesting had they been reading off the menu at a local Olive Garden. The exchange regarding the hippo between Damon and the little girl that is dying of seizures had me cringing in my seat at the awkwardness of the whole matter. I should have walked out then and there.
Also, why was the best look we ever got of Elysium one where we saw a few trees and a woman swimming in a pool? Would looking at the inner workings of the politics and lifestyle on Elysium simply have exposed this film for the fraud that it is? I'm not going to go too deeply into the themes of the movie, as everyone has their own opinions, but it doesn't take much to realize the hidden (and rather misguided, imo) opinion of the director in this one. The message was about as subtle as receiving a ton of bricks to the head. View at your own risk for your blood pressure will likely rise after watching this one, as it objectively is a pathetic disgrace of a film.
Elysium is the follow up, much anticipated by many, to the critically
acclaimed District 9 from South African-Canadian director and writer
In the middle of the 21st Century, with the world now grossly over-populated and law and order seemingly at breaking point, the super wealthy have decamped to a satellite space station highly visible from earth, a utopian society free of poverty, illness and other such mundane woes.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of earth's population lives in squalid, cramped slums seemingly based on the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Needless to say, the rich are all too keen to protect their enclave and any unauthorised vessels arriving from earth are duly dispatched by being blasted away.
Jodie Foster stars as Elysium's ambitious and sociopathic Defence Secretary, as ruthless at advancing her own interests as she is at ensuring the purity of the over-sized Ferris wheel whose security is in her charge; Matt Damon is the working class drone desperately trying to access the other world for the treatment to cure his radiation sickness from which he will die in 5 days.
There was clearly an interesting concept waiting to burst out here, an opportunity to explore themes of wealth, inequality, social status, health care and immigration, but sadly it failed on almost every level to build interest or have anything relevant to say.
First, we saw so little of the societal structure or way of life on Elysium itself. Apart from Jodie Foster and a few other high ranking officials, the film showed us nothing of how this satellite was run. It looked as if everyone lived in a McMansion style-home the type you find next to golf courses in Florida or on the Sunshine Coast. It all looked terribly sterile, reminiscent of the contrived town Jim Carrey inhabited in The Truman Show. We were not privy as to who cut the lawns, did the plumbing or washed the dishes. Superficially, the lives of these pampered people seemed hollow and totally unfulfilled where were the galleries, the museums, the theatres or even a casino for those that might like that sort of thing? Frankly, the impoverished life on earth which was shown with enforced work in a fascistic environment seemed far more fulfilling.
Further, Matt Damon's motives for getting on Elysium were totally selfish. All he wanted was to save his own skin. Granted, there was then concocted an unconvincing love interest and a wish to save his childhood sweetheart's little girl but this too was just parochial. Where was the burning anger borne from social injustice, the wish to better the lot of all humankind, the working class warrior on a mission? And when the film's final denouement came it was head in a sick-bag time.
The script and dialogue were banal, as was Jodie Foster's delivery. Matt Damon worked harder to bring some interest to his character but he was up against it but at least he tried.
The CGI was good but that's pretty much a given in any well-funded Hollywood film these days. Close up camera work was appalling, non-stop wobble vision which made action sequences confusing. This camera style is so unnecessary and it really is beyond comprehension as to why film-makers persist in its use; in small doses it can be effective but when near constant it produces a feeling of nausea.
It is so disappointing to be relentlessly negative about a film but when they are as lacking as this one, the positives can be hard to find.
Matt Damon stars in the Sci-fi/political thriller Elysium, Neill
Blomkamp's follow up to District 9, along with Jodie Foster as
Elysium's Secretary Delacourt and Sharlto Copley as the main villain
Kruger. Is Elysium on par with Oscar nominated District 9? Absolutely
NOT! Not even close but it is still a solid sci/fi entertainment. It is
a more conventional film than its predecessor, which I was not
expecting from Blomkamp.
The film starts of very cliché and gave me some eye roll moments but it quickly picks itself up from reaching into mediocrity. They way it does this is by evoking political messages through out the film in relevance with today's society. Questioning our handling with immigration, military power, our health care. Which I found to be important in this film. Obviously me and Blomkamp share each others political stance. For anyone else it might seem like its trying to oversell its message.
I felt most of the cast were very under used. Jodie Foster's character really didn't have much to work with. She was just there to move the plot forward. Matt Damon served his purpose as the lead but by no means of the imagination is this one of his best performances. They were all over shadowed by Sharlto Copley. My God, is he great as Kruger! Right away we are introduced into this provocative-sociopath with no regard for human life. The story really needed this kind of menacing character. He is by far the film's best positive. Another negative aspect of this film would be its pacing. When we are given emotional scenes they don't stay long enough to settle and doesn't give that emotional impact you were hoping for.
Like District 9 it delivers on the the beautiful imagery. Using the very best Weta Workshop has to offer. From its big guns to the human-like robots, to the space station of Elysium. The action set pieces were just as exciting as its predecessor. The film really manages to capture all its budget on screen. My biggest issue comes from the excessive use of shaky cam. It was used when the characters were simply walking to the action sequences. I felt ninety percent of this film was shaky cam. Which got me a little dizzy since I ,unfortunately, got to sit in the very front of the theater. That might have something to do with it as well.
Neill Blomkamp has established once again that he can compete with the best Directors of the genre films. Elysium shows more flaws than his first film but they are overwhelmed by its positive aspects, to me at least. It was not a disappointment and it was a solid popcorn entertainment and a smarter than average sci/fi film.
WOW! This movie is just awful. They call it Science Fiction but there
is no science in it...only really bad fiction.
Have you ever noticed in these kind of futuristic society stories they never really explain how society got to the current state it is in at the start of the movie? There is a reason why. There is no possible way that such a stupid societal construct could ever come to be! So ...like a Paul Krugman economic theory...the answer is that the construct exists because the premise starts out saying "Let's assume that all logic and common sense goes out the door."(!)
Evidently in the future only future Los Angeles and Elysium exist. Supposedly the world is ravaged by population and disease but there are no Asians or EEU or South American or African members...or even Washington, DC, involved with Elysium! EVERY POLITICALLY SYSTEM GLOBALL JUST SOMEHOW UP AND VANISHED! DOH! So...Elysium is built and lived on evidently by only Hollywood types who rule the planet! The internet as we know it has also completely vanished. So has e-mail and cell phone technology...but you can still get a good deal on GMC vehicles that look like leftover Road Warrior vehicles!
Matt Damon (say it Team America-like) works in a factory where he...I guess...builds robots (?). That's a little unclear. But...he is stupidly badgered into some sort of elevator style "heat-treatment" booth by his superior. Since their is no OSHA anymore his character gets trapped in the room where they...get this!...dose the robots WITH HUMAN KILLING RADIATION! Now...there's like no big signs up anywhere in this factory that say WARNING: RADIATION AT WORK! It is never explained why robots need radiation treatment but that is what they do. AND...get this!...when the treatment is done the radiation "magically" disappears! People just walk in and out of the room! Like...WTF!??!!!??? How does radiation magically dissipate or get moved out of a room? IT DOESN'T! Unless all science goes out the window!
Poor Matt. Now he has 4 days to live because of Radiation poisoning and he is very ill and can barely walk or stay awake or keep from puking...for about 5 minutes! The rest of the movie he is hooked up to a biometric-ally controlled exoskeleton and Matt never shows any effects of radiation poisoning and he fights his way all over LA and Elysium! So...in a complete Johnny Mnemonic rip off (they should sue)...Matt Damon has the magic data in his skull and people want his head. How this all comes about is so incredibly ridiculously stupid and unbelievable I wanted to throw things at the screen.
Matt then shows up with a grenade with the pin pulled out and his hand holding the grenade from exploding and he demands a ride to Elysium or he will blow his head off. So...not strapped in...and with no refueling of any sort at all...the ship just flies off on a 12 minute flight to Elysium! So...they are breaking through Earth's atmosphere with the super rocket powered ship...he is not strapped in and is holding a grenade...AND THERE IS NO BLEEPING G FORCE CAUSING ANY ISSUES!
The final "evil guy\good guy" fight is just awful. The "evil guy" basically runs around saying "I could kill you but I will continue to spout stupid statements to drag this out until you...and this will be SUCH A SURPRISE...manage to overcome and defeat me because I kept just spouting off at the mouth rather than just killing you!"
This is after Matt goes to the armory and rescues the girly and Leukemia ridden daughter(tug my bleeding heartstrings). Now...dig this...3 bad guys are taking over Elysium...there is a big armory with plenty of weapons...AND NO ONE IS COMING TO GRAB THE WEAPONS AND TO STOP THE 3 MAN COUP OF ELYSIUM! DOH!!
To call this a craptacular is an insult to crap. This is just big money lazy story writing pushing a phony agenda. And it is just awful
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So bad. They don't make you care about ANY of the characters and the
storytelling is awful. You barely get to see Elysium, it's just like 3
guys in sweaters in a country club drinking champagne for like 5
seconds, and there's a little bit of grass and a few trees. Like
really? That didn't even look that cool. **Spoiler I guess** Matt Damon
is dying the whole movie from some exposure to radiation, and that is
the only reason he is trying to go to Elysium. They should have at
least made that little girl his secret daughter or something, so that
you could actually care about him saving her. Her mongoose and hippo
story was painful to watch, even thought it was the only time Matt
Damon and the little girl actually interacted. Kruger (the main
villain) was okay I guess. He had a cool accent and beard, but he
wasn't that tough or threatening though.
It was just some Mexican people on post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, with no health care and dirty clothes, and Matt Damon dying for a few days. Then he gets some tech-suit that makes him a tiny bit stronger and he punches like one guy and then nothing happens. They should show people on Elysium freaking out and worrying about people from Earth coming. The people on Elysium did nothing except swim in a pool and sit on a chair.
The only cool thing on Elysium was that bed that healed people. I mean couldn't they have a little more cool futuristic stuff? Touchscreens? Cool shirts or sunglasses? More sci-fi stuff. I mean it is the year 2154, I would think technology would be a lot more advanced. Jodie Foster's control room had like CRT monitors it was so bad. The robot animations and models were well done though.
The story and characters weren't developed at all, and there was barely any action. I haven't seen District 9, but there's no way it can be as bad as this. I really wanted to like it, because the trailer and concept looked awesome. I usually like Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Diego Luna and their acting was fine, but this movie could have been so much better if they fixed the story. I felt like Matt Damon didn't really give a crap about helping all the people on Earth, and he never even made out with the hot chick...
I love the concept surrounding the themes about health care, wealth inequality, social status and immigration, but nothing really tied it all together or developed these themes and this is what was missing. That's what this movie should be about, not some guy who is dying and doesn't want to die. It should have been about resistance, and inspire you to want to make a difference in the way we currently live.
Before watching Elysium, I read every review about it. And it seems to
me that there are a lot of people that hated it. Most have said that
the message in the film is what kept it 'likable'. Well, after I
watched it, I thought to myself, "Why?". Trust me, don't believe any
negative reviews about this film. Yes, it's flawed, but the film itself
is really good.
Matt Damon was great in this film and he was a very likable hero. But Sharlto Copley, oh boy, he was one heck of a villain. He was so good, every scene he was in was disturbing, in a very, very creepy way. He owned almost every scene he was in and was the stronghold of this film. Jodie Foster as the other antagonist, err, she did her part I guess. Every one did a good job and they really enabled the film to lighten up in most areas.
So, this film was really good, and I was extremely pleased by it. The film did a nice job for making the audience feel attached to the characters, and I applaud to that. The action sequences were nice, and it didn't over power the film, something Elysium got right and what others sort of didn't. (Man Of Steel's epic final battle, was just TOO LONG!) Also on the scenes where it tones down and becomes emotional, was very well done, and it gives this movie heart. It's fast, epic, emotional and incredible.
Now, although the film is great, I only have one small gripe about Elysium. Now, the film is around about 109 minutes. I know, that when a film feels really good and it begins to near it's end, you don't want it to do that just yet. That's how I felt when I saw District 9, and I felt the same with Elysium. The film didn't feel rushed which was nice, but an extra half an hour would've been great.
Is it a Sci-Fi movie? Yes! Is it an action movie? It gets to it. Is it an epic Sci-Fi action movie? Yes. It is epic! It's definitely a must watch this year. I'm being generous to this film, because of the film's message consisting of poverty, wealth and equality. Watch this film with an open mind, and you will not be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thoroughly enjoyed Neill Blomkamp's previous film, "District Nine".
That film succeeded because of its well-written, interesting
characters, uniquely lived-in futuristic setting, and, most
importantly, its emotional core. Unfortunately, Blomkamp's newest
project has fallen far short of my expectations. "Elysium" is utterly
dull. In spite of an aesthetic that almost exactly mirrors that of
"District Nine", "Elysium" lacks the characters or attention to plot
details that would have made the movie work. Instead, it falls flat in
almost every way.
Most notable in failure is Jody Foster, whose character is insufficiently developed to explain away her perpetual foul mood and all-encompassing anger - this is as two-dimensional a character as any I've seen. However, almost no facet of the movie IS well-developed: there are several 'emotional' moments in the movie that lack impact simply because the audience is given no time to get to know the characters involved before these important events occur. There's simply no reason for an audience member to care about a character who's only had ten or fifteen lines of generic dialogue in well less than five minutes of screen time.
I was irritated that Blomkamp was unable to recapture the emotional connection that made "District Nine" special to me. While there was clearly a moral message to this movie, it was ham-fisted in execution and ultimately meaningless. A montage at the very end of the movie's lengthy action finale emphasizes the weight of the choice that our hero made, but what's the point of making that choice if the audience must be inundated with recycled footage and clichés to make the connections that are vital to making the moment emotionally meaningful? Blomkamp doesn't seem to have trusted his audience to make these connections, and that's the final insult. "Elysium" is not a smart movie, and it doesn't expect its audience to be any smarter. As I walked out of the theater, I could remember only one or two names from the whole feature - that alone speaks volumes for how forgettable a film this really is. "Elysium" tries to hide its lack of heart by battering the audience into thinking it should care... But, as in all of the other important areas, it falls far short of its goal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story is full of plot holes and the characters are full of
Elysium, can heal anyone at any time at no cost, in minutes! Except that it won't because the people of Elysium are cruel, evil, and utterly malicious. Literally Hitler.
The bad guys continue to be bad guys, for no apparent reason or motivation. Just because it's fun!! List of plot holes:
1. They can restrict air traffic, but re-open it as they are transporting a high-value target?
2. They need to use radiation on robots? Why?
3. The floor manager is cruel enough to force you to do dangerous life-threatening actions because he can?
4. The smugness and evil of the Elysium-citizens... "Don't breathe in my direction!" Seriously? Who wrote this, a 12 year old writing a comic book?
5. They can make people explode with auto-tracking homing ninja grenades--yet they can't do that for Matt Damon?
6. You can literally change the president by patching a computer?
7. A CEO understands and writes machine code to control the whole of Elysium?
8. A CEO is hired by Jodie Foster to replace the President of Elysium with herself--but the CEO doesn't do it for himself?? He carries the code on his person???
9. In the future, we need system reboots for the whole space station? WHAT?
10. You can only download if you kill the person who has the files? Why not just destroy the files in unauthorized access?
11. Earth is poor and overpopulated, and they just declare everyone citizens and hand out free medical care at no cost or problem???
12. Earthlings are poor and non-citizens but they can afford to build giant spacecrafts to illegally land on a space station, are you kidding me???
13. 3 special forces guys and one poor Earthling named Matt Damon can literally overthrow the whole of the Elysium government?
14. They can shoot electricity at people like a Taser, but they can't disable spacecraft with targeted Electromagnetic pulses?
15. The Elysium government doesn't want to kill illegal immigrants openly--but they are fine with letting them all die instead of giving out free medical treatment?
Literally this script is written by people who don't know how to restart their computer.
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