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Movie Review: Elysium (2013)

elysium movie poster

He will fight against the future… for yours

Movie Review: Elysium (2013)

An A-list actor can’t save a B-level movie- despite its meaningful message.

Oh I was intrigued. I saw Matt Damon on a mission to get up to a space habitat and crash the party of the elites -for all us poor slobs stuck here on earth. I saw a cool shuttle flying around and a robot enforcer disintegrate. Plus, the writer and director is Neill Blomkamp from the [future] classic District 9. I saw Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley (also connected to District 9 and Europa Report [2013]) so we have a tight set of actors on board. But, it wasn’t until I mentioned my interest in this movie to @SpacelyRockit and he laughed in my face and yelled “Activate Kruger!” that I realized there might be some corny aspects to this movie.

Alphabetical Actions

Well, let’s get the meat out of the way. We have some stunning visuals and a few good action sequences. It’s all slapped into a movie, whose overall theme of class inequality is supposed to be profound enough to negate the ridiculous premise, bad characterizations and numerous plot holes. So is it any good? Well, that depends on what you went to go see it for. If you are content with a movie a few notches below District 9; then yeah, it’s an okay summer flick {that is far below its blockbuster promises}. If you expect the Whole to equal the sum of its Parts, then you will be disappointed.

Activate Kruger!

That line is said by Jodie Foster, who plays the tight-mouthed-heavy in charge of Elysium security. We see they have aggressive super-sentry robots capable of [police] brutality at the drop of a circuit board. We see NSA surveillance from the top to the bottom and yet- she “Activates Kruger” as her first line of defense. So yeah, those missiles you see streaking after the shuttles, that the trailer makes you think are launched from the Elysium satellite, are actually launched by Kruger- from a shouldered …rocket…launcher… Yes, we’re talking surface-to-space RP-G, erm Ms. {rocket-propelled-missiles}

It certainly establishes Kruger as a bad guy, but he just didn’t fit in that world, sleeper-agent status and all. Sharlto Copley plays him well as the loose cannon and psychotic mess that he is, but the writing leaves his character uneven. As opposed to Matt Damon who seems miscast as the central figure- Max. A lot of other actors came to mind- to play the, you know, the chosen one with a destiny to do something important and change everything. But now that the credits are rolling, thank goodness Vin Diesel wasn’t in this. And I say that in a respectful way.


Common Social Commentary

So let’s go heavy with the metaphors and messages about the future of our planet and its people. We have a ruined earth, polluted, poisoned and over populated and the elevated elites living lush in Olympus. Down below it’s the Barrio and the great border barring the crossings to a better life is orbit. Right, it’s white people up in space and the Spanish-speaking tans dreaming the American Dream of 2173 down heah. Well, it’s supposed to be the L.A. of the future, so we have a projected future being depicted. Hey, we even have an ineffective puppet-head person-of-color president. Okay, yes, the politicians are in bed with the corporate war machine and their plan is…well there doesn’t seem to be one besides keep the dirty populace under control and maintain their ultra-comfortable existence. That resonates. I get it. It’s like that now. We have robots doing Stop-and-Frisk and a system that’s bent on seeing us turned into a drugged up zombie-fied worker force or prison inmates. Yikes.

Directed Shots

District 9 did so much to turn convention over. We had South Africans being racist toward a displaced alien population. Oh, the irony! Here, director and writer Neill Blomkamp makes his point and points some fingers. You’re supposed to walk out of that theater and think, man that’s where we’re headed and maybe have a stirring. Conspiracy theorists will say it’s predictive programming, where Hollywood shows us a frightful future in order to mentally prepare us for the inevitable. It tells us, if you don’t do something different now, you’ll be doing that same thing then. Despite its shortcomings, I applaud Elysium for have something to say when many movies are mostly made to make money.

Elysium (Ancient Greek): is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life

Familiar THX 1138

Of course this movie is inspired by the George Lucas early Classic THX-1138 (1971). With all the reboots, rehashes, sequels and spin-offs, I’m quite glad it’s only a borrowed theme and not a generation-now update of any kind. I won’t draw all the parallels because they are all pretty obvious and I won’t even sit here and nit-pick all of the Elysium plot holes. But, we have John Carlyle [William Fichtner] the CEO of the big budget defense company, visiting a robot-production plant on earth. He sees Matt Damon’s Max irradiated and dying and he is more concerned with saving the cost on the bed sheets than seeing the value in a skilled worker. It’s a ridiculous moment that exists only to hammer home the message that the bottom line is the bottom line. If you remember that as the whole point then you will appreciate why these parts came together to make this whole. I’m not a movie critic; I’m just critiquing a movie.

See some of my other reviews here

  1. August 15, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Reblogged this on Rapper's Delite.

  2. Anonymous
    August 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Andrew!

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