Director : Neill Blomkamp
Cast Headliner: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Original Release Date: August 9th, 2013
What will the future be like? Will it be better; shall humanity live in a utopia? Will our flaws manifest themselves into a horrific wasteland of stagnation? According to director Neill Blomkamp director in this film Elysium, it’s both. The year is 2154 and up in space the most elite citizens and the government have a wonderful, bright existence on the titular Elysium space station. Meanwhile on Earth, at least where we see in Los Angeles, is a gigantic ghetto. Think of it as an extreme version of the Berlin Wall. In this world, Matt Damon plays Max Da Costa, a robot factory worker in the slums. He has, basically, a very hard life.
For, this film is set in the future and thus classified as science fiction, but it is really more about sharing a political message too. An obvious class struggle is at play here, with the rich abusing the poor and etc. At times the message, while perhaps true, can be too preachy. I felt as if some scenes with Max being abused by cops were unneeded. And aside from the vile Secretary Delacourt (wonderfully portrayed by Jodie Foster), the government seems to not be that evil aside from being apathetic.
Most importantly perhaps then is the focus on the story of Max. He ends up needing to reach Elysium, where the machines can fix you. He joins some rather “risky” people, and essentially gets into trouble with the governmental forces. The plot makes some interesting twists and turns, certainly defying most expectations. It ends up being predictable, but a few moments will certainly shock.
The themes and atmosphere are certainly interesting, but two things shine about this film. The action and special effects during them are stellar. Blomkamp has a knack for creating mind-blowing scenes and using slow motion. The robots, or droids as they’re called ala Star Wars, appear incredibly lifelike. The visuals of the Elysium space station are beautiful, and it’s a different yet equally great kind of beauty to see it be damaged in the fights.
Now the other thing to mention is Sharlto Copley’s Krueger character. He is one of those perfect villians. A villain so evil, so vile, so mean that you just can’t help but appreciate him. Copley does a great job at being wicked, and all of the heart and humor of the film comes whenever he’s on screen. Ironic in that he is the character that has the highest kill count. Aside form his charisma, he is also formidable combat threat. Both he and Max are equipped with cyborg strength suit, and even better for him in that he has a plasma shield and a sword. There isn’t much reason to use a sword in a age of plasma guns 100 years from now, but it can be excused in that Krueger is such a superb villain.
Unfortunately though, Krueger is the only interesting character in the whole movie. Matt Damon is a decent hero, but pretty basic. Love interest Frey is bland, and his comrades in Spider’s gang are slightly annoying. The scope of the film also could have been more, after District 9 I expected more action. Nonetheless, it is a unique and original well-crafted science fiction film. Even when ignoring the class propaganda, it is a very fine piece of cinema. 8.3 out of 10