The Ninjabot

Elysium: Ticket To Paradise

Posted on August 10, 2013 at 9:37 am by Jess Hicks

Elyisum poster

Elysium, the second feature film from writer/director Neil Blomkamp, hit theater’s this weekend, so I decided to venture to my local theater for some sci-fi fun and overpriced snack foods. I have to say that I was pretty mixed about the whole thing. I mean, 6 bucks for a medium drink is ridiculous, but it was so refreshing! Oh….wait…the movie…well, I was pretty mixed on that as well.

Blomkamp brought us District 9 a few years back, and it was quite a refreshing look at the sci-fi genre with some really kick as effects. Elysium definitely brought it home with the effects (in particular a really awesome facial reconstruction bit), but overall, the story and characters kind of lacked a certain something.

The main plot centers around an Earth that’s a gritty wasteland filled with crime, poverty and sickness—pretty much what it is now but with more sand and dirt. Elysium is a space station created by the rich and powerful where there’s no sickness and no one ages, except they clearly do because there are children and adults, so I figure they have to age a little. Max (Matt Damon), is a poor Earth dweller who has dreamed of nothing but buying a ticket to (illegally) get to Elysium. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Delacourt (Jodie Foster) doing everything in her power to squash every attempt at illegal Earthlings entering her beloved space resort, including hiring a rogue bounty hunter to kill for her.

Elysium Foster

Let’s start with the good! Blomkamp does an awesome job at creating believable environments for his characters to exist in. The effects are so realistic that you aren’t taken out of the world at all by over-the-top designs or unrealistic CGI. I felt like I was watching something that was actually happening, as opposed to actors interacting with a green screen. Secondly, though simple, the story was very relate-able. With the ever present poor vs. rich situation happening in the real world, it was very easy to identify with Max and the others on Earth. We want him to get to Elysium as a small victory for all the other wretches forced to live in squalor while others flourish.

On the other hand, Max and Delacourt really don’t do much…at all. If you’re going to see this because Jodie Foster is your favorite actress of all time, you’re going to be disappointed. She mainly exists for one reason (that I won’t spoil) and then makes minor appearances here and there. Her entire story seems to fizzle out with an end that didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. Perhaps she’ll make more of an appearance in the directors cut?

Then there’s Max, who’s equipped with some seriously gnarly head gear that gives him the strength of the robotic droids that police Earth. Sounds awesome right? Well it would be if he had actually taken advantage of it. To be honest, I thought the character of Max was entirely predictable and weak. Granted, he suffers from some radiation poisoning, but he still has medicine that makes him function as normal, and he has a robot suit connected directly to his nervous system. I thought both Foster and Damon were seriously underused.

Elysium Droid

We did have some very interesting side characters, mainly in the rogue bounty hunter, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) and the Spider (Wagner Moura), who provides illegal tickets to Elysium from Earth. Both of these guys stole the show for me. On one hand, we have the absolutely vile Kruger, who lives for rape and murder, playing the character with such sincerity that I wanted to punch his stupid face every time he was on the screen. Spider was a very interesting character as well, being a sort of intellectual while also having the cojones to run his illegal business. Side Bar: both Moura and Copley have crazy thick accents, and I had a rough time understanding them sometimes. Now I know why some people put subtitles on movies!

Overall, Blomkamp is a good director, but I think it would behoove him to have another writer help out with his screenplays. He definitely has the vision to be a great sci-fi filmmaker, but something just seems missing when it comes to his characters. Of course, this is only his second feature film, so maybe he’s just working out his sophomore slump? Elysium is a good theater movie, and if you are a fan of the genre, I suggest checking it out. Just go in with managed expectations. As always, let us know what you thought in the comments below!

You can follow Jess on Twitter @DangerJess_

Elysium: C+

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