Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movie Review: Elysium

Neil Blomkamp backed himself into a corner with this one. His breakthrough film, 2009's sci-fi parable District 9, was flat out amazing. I remember walking out of the theater in a daze, stunned by the freight train of awesomeness that I had just seen. What on Earth could Blomkamp do for a follow up? Well in his latest film, the South African auteur decided to ditch Earth and head to the stars on the space station Elysium (see what I did there? =p ). Sadly, I think District 9 set the bar a little too high and left me with some lofty expectations. Elysium is still a fun movie in it's own right but I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed overall.

It should go without saying that Blomkamp is a socially conscious director. District 9 was an allegory for South African apartheid...with aliens. His new film Elysium continues this trend and tackles current socio-political issues such as health care, income inequality and immigration. Aside from his news hound tendencies, Blomkamp is also, you know, one of the most unique and visionary science fiction directors of the last few decades. The future tech geek stuff he packs into his films is enough to induce nerdgasms from any self respecting sci-fi fan. So if Blomkamp still delivers in the CNN/gadgetry departments, what's the big flaw with Elysium in general? It's the other part of the film that brings the rest down, the actual storytelling...you know, it's kind of important.

Matt Damon plays a down on his luck bro stuck in one of those shitty dystopian future's we are undoubtedly heading for. The kind where all the wealthy 1st class passengers have retreated to the safety of Elysium, a space station/lifeboat that boasts advanced medical care and robot servants, while the rest of us schmucks are stuck on Earth/ the Titanic left to rot. So Damon has to get to Elysium and use one of their fancy schmancy med pods to reverse the gnarly illness that will end his life...and quick. He dons some high tech robot exo-skeleton battle suit and starts kicking ass, literally fighting his way off Earth. Again, all this stuff is pretty cool. My main beef with the film is that is all feels so rushed.

Blomkamp is an ace when it comes to world building. In both District 9 and Elysium I was totally lured into the cinematic realm he created, unfortunately, his latest film cuts and runs without delivering any real pay off. We see glimpses of cool stuff, then it's gone. There are some summer movies that are long and bloated and could a good 20-30 mins shaved off the run time (Man of Steel, I'm talking to you) but Elysium is not one of them. If anything, this movie deserved to be longer! I pray that the blu-ray has an extended director's cut. Also, whoever edited this film please, try decaf. When there's awesome explosions going on and characters are throwing some grimacing looks at each other, maybe it would be wise not to cut away from them and let shit play out for more than 2 seconds at a time. Maybe.

So there it is. Yes, Elysium has great special effects, a riveting message behind it and Matt Damon's performance is strong enough to carry the slack from the less than stellar supporting cast, but the film's rushed pacing and frantic editing style brings the potentially awesome film down to merely good. I still enjoyed this film and look forward to Blomkamp's next project...still crossing my fingers for dat blu-ray doe!


  1. Great review!!!
    Thanks a lot please keep sharing more...
    The Movie Fifty Shades

  2. Yeah buddy District Nine is just so good that it'd be hard to watch this film and have it be an equal to it, very hard. Sounds like a decent film all the same though.

  3. Oh boy. I was expecting most of this, but the editing. I can't handle editing that bad.

  4. On this one, I thought the big budget and special effects compromised the social message somewhat, but still, I liked it considerably more than you did. Matt Damon is also a little long in the tooth to now be playing this kind of role.

    A similar movie that wowed me was The Fifth Element.