Saturday, 24 August 2013

Elysium (2013) - ★★

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, Diego Luna, William Fichtner, Emma Tremblay

Elysium is easily one of the most boring sci-fi / action movies I've ever seen. It just moves at a glacial pace, and I've seen the same formula done better... many times. The performances are nothing remarkable... in fact, Jodie Foster couldn't keep her accent from dabbling between American and English. In some ways, you can draw parallels between the story in Elysium, and actual asylum seekers today. That's the most genius thing about this film, and probably the purpose of the story. However, I was ready to leave the cinema after about 45 minutes. The sounds, the sights... everything was irritating to the senses. Not once did I feel suspense, or even a remote sense of urgency. There's just nothing noteworthy about this film. Not even the special effects.

Set in the 2100s, 'Elysium' is a man-made space settlement just outside the Earth's atmosphere, where the rich and important people live and thrive. Meanwhile, down on the polluted and overpopulated Earth, there are many people who are sick and live in poverty. Max (Matt Damon) always wanted to go to Elysium, but never had the money to do so. He works at a place that manufactures robots, until one day he gets stuck in a freak oven thingy that poisons him with radiation. He only has 5 days to live, and the only way he knows how is to get to Elysium and use their superior technology to instantly cure him. In order to do this, he must help his old crime buddies rebel against the tough as nails Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who controls the defence systems of Elysium.

The story does sound really interesting at first. It's just executed terribly. To me, the worst thing about this movie is the slow-pace for the first 45 minutes. It just trudges along, giving us the backstory of Max and many establishing shots of Earth, which has become a heaping pile of trash. I could practically feel the clock ticking as Max made idle conversation, did some work, and walked past poverty stricken areas. There's a difference between 'setting up the story' and prolonging what should be a fairly simple sci-fi flick.

Matt Damon bulked up nicely, but his character was lacking in personality.
I guess the next worse thing was the cinematography. The camera shakes as Max walks, which is not only disorienting, but completely unnecessary. It creates no atmosphere whatsoever... all it did was blur what should have been a comprehensive look at the wasteland that is Earth. What I hate about big budget special effects movies these days is that THEY NEVER STOP TO GIVE US A GOOD LOOK AT THE ACTUAL SURROUNDINGS. We hardly got to see Elysium in all its beauty, just the occasional scene where people are landing there. It's such a copout, kind of like action movies that have fight sequences in the dark. Oh, and I consider the special effects to be slightly more realistic than that of WALL.E (2008), an animated children's movie.

As for the performances, they were exactly what you'd expect from a big-budget action film. Matt Damon turns out a good performance, but his character had little to no substance or development, which makes it more of a 'meh' role. Jodie Foster started out strong, but then got progressively worse. Sometimes she'd say certain words with an American accent, then say the same things with an English accent. It's probably one of the worst performances she's ever given, but it wasn't all bad. Don't even get me started on Sharlto Copley's voice (which sounded South African to me)... it's not so much the accent that was annoying, but the way he said things made me cringe. He plays a good 'baddie,' but at the same time he took the small amount of enjoyment out of the action sequences.

I love Jodie Foster, but this just wasn't her best effort.
The saving grace of this film is the eye-opening scenes of the people stuck down on Earth, who want more than anything to have a better life at Elysium. By the end of the film, there's a cool display that shows us how wrong it was for the leaders of Elysium to just leave those on Earth to wallow and die from sickness.

I live in Australia, where a man named Tony Abbott is most likely going to be our new Prime minister. His policy on asylum seekers is to send the boats back where they came from, rather than help resettle them. Even though there are many fleeing from conflict-torn nations, we're not going to help them... because apparently that will ruin our economy. If this film has shown me anything, it is how wrong Australia is for denying asylum to those who genuinely need our help. It's more complicated than my simple analysis, but anyone with compassion should be able to see that it's a human right to seek asylum, not a privilege.

Elysium inspired me to talk about a very important social injustice that will happen in my country... and that's got to count for something. I didn't like this movie one bit... it's a pretty terrible film. However, it's not stupid. I think it had a good story that was executed in a way that was both boring and irritating.


  1. I'm disappointed to read this! Although I haven't yet seen Elysium, it is one of my most anticipated films of 2013 so I'm expecting great things... And Jodie Foster, love that woman. Although, I think the role was probably written for Sigourney Weaver. I'll be sure to send you my review of Elysium when I see it for comparison! PLEASE BE WRONG. Never much been a fan of Matt Damon, but Neill Blomkamp...

    1. Sigourney Weaver would have knocked that role out of the park! I honestly hope you like Elysium. I didn't know what to expect to be honest. I was HOPING above all that it would be visually stunning with some quality acting (from the quality leads they cast). Oh well... if someone gets enjoyment out of it, then I'm happy.