Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Blomkamp, we have a problem
The dictionary definition of Elysium is 'a state of perfect happiness', something that this film ultimately falls short of delivering. This is particularly disappointing for fans of its writer/director Neill Blomkamp, responsible for the refreshingly original District 9, a film that perfectly spliced the hard-hitting issues of the apartheid into a believable sci-fi world.
It's clear that he has tried to repeat his last success here as we follow underdog Max (Mat Damon) as he tries to reach the space station Elysium, an exclusive paradise in the sky with Prometheus-style healing machines causally fitted in every home. A utility that Max soon needs after receiving a fatal dose of radiation at his work, causing him to agree to a plan of breaking into the place with help from his childhood sweetheart Faye (Alice Braga). However, things don't go as smoothly as planned, as ruthless rouge agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) hunts them down, following kill orders from Delacourt the space stations treasonous Secretary of Defence (Jodie Foster).
Although the story does entertain, it does nothing new or surprising, and after BlomKamp's previous work it's impossible not to expect something more groundbreaking, or just different. Especially considering that this film follows District 9 beat-for-beat, heavy- handedly changing the metaphor from the apartheid to immigration, and altering the alien transformation to a mech-suit attachment. It all just feels predictable, with plot points being signposted far too prematurely, especially with the oversimplified sentimental ending that seems to break the film's own logic. This makes it feel like a result of reshuffled ideas rather than a combination of new ones.
It's fortunate then that the acting and casting is so perfect, grounding the film and breathing new life into its old plot. The standout performance is from Copley, who steals the film with his unhinged terminator portrayal of agent Kruger, just outshining Damon who manages to inject a likable personality into the otherwise underdeveloped character of Max.
However, what really defines the film is its visuals, with the quality of CGI soaring above that of District 9 and other current releases. If nothing else it's a testament to Blomkamp and his ability to create such distinct worlds that feels so real and detailed, this time around turning California into a sprawling slum of overpopulation and grime, that demonstrates a disturbingly realistic vision of a possible future. Even the interstellar scenes with Elysium look understatedly beautiful and genuine, adding a level of immersion that was so noticeably lacking from 'Into Darkness'.
Elysium doesn't quite take off into the heights of perfection that District 9 so effortlessly hovered in, but the meticulously designed future world and the characters that inhabit it save it from its underwhelming recycled story. For Blomkamp fans it shows again how well he moulds social themes into science fiction, even if it is in a way that's becoming over familiar. Regardless of this, it manages to be an entertaining and engaging film that has other entries in the genre playing catch up.