Elysium (2013)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Great follow-up.

So, in 2009, Neill Blomkamp gave us District 9, a science fiction thriller that really made us look at real issues in a different light. The story was complex, but surprisingly easy to read into. It not only made the human race look like abusive animals, but it delved deep into the fascinating realm of fantasy discrimination and how the world views people who are different, with force and hostility. But beyond that, the film was highly entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Four years later, Elysium was born, and you may be surprised at how much the message really hasn’t changed…the tone and idea remained relatively the same while the setting and circumstances have altered. I quite enjoyed this one.

So sometime in the near future, our world gets sick. We continually treat it badly, and it gets polluted beyond repair. However, unlike in After Earth, people still live on the planet, but the rich were able to leave the planet while the poor suffer extreme prejudice and torment. The rich have the ability to make any medical issue nonexistent – they can cure cancer for example. So, the poor really want to live on Elysium, but they cannot. They are forced to work labor for Elysium, never to see the light of day on the planet for the rich.

When Max (Matt Damon) suffers a radiation blast, he does not turn into the Hulk, he just is given five days to live. So he does whatever it takes to be on the next ship to Elysium in order to get healed. He is strapped with military equipment to make his body stronger and to attack an Elysium target. His target has delicate information hardwired to his brain, so when Max stole it, suddenly he was the most wanted man on the planet. Along the way, he runs into an old crush, whose daughter has the later stage of leukemia, so right off the bat you know Max will need to help her get to Elysium as well.

Wow, what a flick. I wouldn’t say that it had the same effect on me as much as District 9, but it sure was similar. The only main issue I had on this film was throughout the majority of the film, Max’s motives weren’t the best. For the most part, he was just doing this as a survival instinct, and it just comes off as selfish. It doesn’t help the rest of the world stop from suffering, it just helps him if he can even get through it. Even if he succumbs to helping out the little girl, that’s better, but again…doesn’t help the whole world. I won’t exactly give away how things turn out, but I will say that I was surprised and satisfied.

So much of this film reminded me of District 9. The idea of social control and immigration was quite alarming. Immigration was a big part of the other one as well, but more so here. You won’t get away with watching the film without thinking immigration status in the United States. I mean, the language mostly spoken on earth…was Spanish. These Spanish people are trying to illegally enter the place that is advertised as amazing, but in reality, is full of unemotional egotistical self-righteous jerks. I couldn’t help but think of this film, at least partially, as a satire on our current immigration status. Heck, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Mexicans now who are treated like the bottom-of-the-barrel. The film strangely rings true for how people treat one another…just with a sci-fi edge.

The acting was also strong. I could watch Matt Damon in anything. Even though his acting alone wasn’t as memorable, maybe, as his Bourne Identity films, but he did really well regardless. Those scenes where he was in pain…I found myself cringing alongside him. No matter how memorable his acting is or isn’t, his appearance definitely takes the cake. The half-man, half-machine look is different than your typical cyborg film, because he is mostly man, just with the help of machinery to get the job done. The look is memorable, honestly. Finally, Sharlto Copley’s performance was phenomenal. Remember how he was a jerk to the aliens in District 9, imagine if he just continued to be a jerk, and ended up being the main antagonist throughout the film…that equates to his role here. I don’t think I like him as much when he’s a villain, but as it was, he did a fabulous job and I believed his psychotic self.

Elysium may not be as good as Blomkamp’s District 9, but it still holds firm to the important messages strewn throughout while maintaining a strong and entertaining science fiction plot.

3 thoughts on “Elysium (2013)

  1. Interesting. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, though I am surprised to see someone speak so fondly of the actors. I thought each of them was either unremarkable or worse. I also thought the allegory was much too obvious.


  2. Good review Dave. It definitely wasn’t as good as District 9, but nonetheless, was still fun and thrilling in the sense that it’s a summer blockbuster, and shouldn’t be taken so damn seriously.


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