Elysium (Review)

The first human puppet. Apart from Tom Cruise...

The first human puppet. Apart from Tom Cruise…

Filmmakers just might be the most pessimistic breed of human on the planet. This year our Earth has been threatened or ended in so very many ways that it has me wondering if anyone out there actually sees humanity lasting long enough for the iPhone 8 to arrive to much pointless anticipation… It’s a phone fuckers.

In South African director Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, hard times have once again befallen humanity. Or at least some of us. The rich, privileged and connected are all transported out of the diseased and tainted cesspool that is Earth, to float above the wretched masses in the huge and opulent surrounds of Elysium, a purpose built space facility zealously guarded by a crack security team headed by Dellacourt (Jodie Foster), a driven woman who speaks as if ‘Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft’ taught her the Queen’s English.

Far below lurk the envious masses. With no ‘magic ticket’ they work and slave merely to stay alive long enough to die young, dreaming of what must be on Elysium.

Max DaCosta (Matt Damon) is one of these Earth bound lifers. A former criminal lucky enough to have an underpaid dangerous job to resent. It is because of this dangerous job that Max is exposed to deadly environs that reduce his already short life expectancy to days instead of years. Faced with almost certain death, Max decides that the only way is ‘up’, regardless of the risk or the possible consequences. He must devise a daring and dangerous plan, and use his former skills to save his own life. And perhaps much more…

Elysium is almost the ying to Blomkamp’s own District 9 yang, only here instead of the huddled masses arriving on Earth from space pleading for acceptance, they are wanting to go to space to be saved. In both films a desperate leading man does what he must to both his own body and the bodies of others to save himself (Blomkamp obviously has a big thing for human modification) while the Fat Cats and nefarious ne’er do wells conspire to halt his momentum.

The world below Elysium is once again a grimy and dangerous place full of the corrupt and dangerous – District 9’s Sharlto Copley appears here and nearly steals the show as a vicious bounty hunter – but make no mistake Elysium is a far ‘prettier’ and more easily accepted film than District 9. Some of this is due to the star power of Damon and Foster, some is due to the obviously bigger budget. It’s just that when you’ve seen all the tricks and trappings before, they don’t quite seem as fresh and daring.

I certainly enjoyed Elysium and agree it is smarter and more daring than your average blockbuster. It’s just that I kept being reminded of District 9, and how that particular film was virtually the same as this one, only better in nearly every way.

Final Rating – 7 / 10. Neill Blomkamp will one day craft a masterpiece of modern sci-fi. I am sure of this. Consider this another extremely competent practise effort.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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