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Review: Elysium

August 13, 2013

elysium-firstposter-full2Elysium

  • Starring: Matt Damon (Bourne Identity), Sharlto Copley (District 9), Jodie Foster (Inside Man) and more.
  • Directed by: Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
  • Synopsis: “In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.”
  • Rating: Rated R for strong violence and language.
  • Must-Watch Trailer:
  • Review:

Director Neill Blomkamp presents Elysium and, while it is not related to his previous film District 9, plenty of similarities and comparisons are undoubtedly to be made in reviews across the web.

This review will contain no such comparisons.

Elysium, a film that stands on its own, had little to offer me in terms of interest and excitement when the first images and clips began to release. Pictures of a gun-toting Matt Damon with a jungle gym attached to his torso and head were interesting at best and looked less than promising.Matt Damon

Neill Blomkamp (District 9) both wrote and directed the action-packed film entitled Elysium.  This latest sci-fi action film starring Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, Jodie Foster and more, takes place in mid-22nd century during which the prominent once-inhabitants of Earth left the disease-ravaged planet to reside in the utopian environment of Elysium. A man-made environmental ring that promises health and additional benefits to all who legally live there, Elysium, hovering above the inferiors on Earth, is the dream destination of all those who live on the poverty and crime-stricken planet powered by hopes, dreams, religion and fear (not to mention Adidas, GMC and a few other recognizable brands of product placement).jodie
Damon stars as the anti-hero who is “forced” to attempt to infiltrate Elysium for the survival of friends and himself. With the help of not-so trustworthy accomplices, Damon (Max) begins his timed assault and faces the terror of a formidable opponents on two sides: an ambitious politician (Jodie Foster) who is ruthless without regard (hated and respected simultaneously) and a border patrol force of mercenaries undeterred and unforgiving (led by an almost unrecognizable Sharlto Copley in a rather believable villain role).elysiummovie
This futuristic “Robin Hood” tale, if you will, visually paints the differences between the two worlds and shows the stark contrast effectively. From the use of a shaky cam, darkly lit environments, clothing, etc of Earth to the contrasting steady cam, brightly lit, warmly inviting environment of Elysium, Blomkamp’s social commentary paints a future not too different from the present that prominently showcases the themes of continuing battles between social classes of health and welfare reform, living conditions and more.elysi
Rated R for its level of violence, “Elysium” has plenty for the action-lover to enjoy and is not for those who are skirmish at the sight of blood. The characters play their parts genuinely and the story plays out well until the rushed final act cut short due to time constraints. The film’s great visuals, inventive telling of a story told before, focus on love and life and plenty of impressive technology expectedly fits the time period and impresses more than initially expected.elysiu

While watching I took notes (as usual) and decided to share some cliffnotes of them here for you. For your reading pleasure (or punishment) here are my random thoughts that by themselves may serve no meaning, but together give you an insight as to what struck me as noteworthy while watching. Enjoy my randomness:

  • Vast and wide panning shots that are beautiful. Amazing and immersive. Nice job camera crew.
  • Brilliantly shows the stark contrast between the two worlds and explains the setup nicely
  • Earth: full of disease, depravity and dreamsElysium-movie-Matt-Damon
  • Picture of mankind’s future is never completely Utopian
  • Ooh, nice contrast usage: Shaky cam on Earth, Steady cam on Elysium
  • Still the Rich get richer and the Poor get poorer…is Max the future Robin Hood?
  • Jodie Foster looks amazing at her age. Look at those calves!
  • Oh and I hate her…but I love her. Good casting choice.
  • Irony: Max builds the very robots he hates.
  • Hmm, the robots outwardly portray the coldness that exists inside the residents of Elysium toward the “inferior inhabitants” of Earth.
  • Contrast the worlds in so many ways. Much like the movie Upside Down
  • It is important to make futuristic films as real and believable as possible. And in Elysium one feels and relates to so much as the film quickly ties you into each of the characters and believing each of their stories.
  • Futuristic technology consistent with expectations including weaponry that is impressive and introduced with surprising results throughout the entire film.
  • Again, you respect Jodie Foster as much as you hate her.
  • Indications of status abound all over as it is the all-important currency of the future…in both worlds.Elysium-Max-
  • Tends to keep interest the entire time, even with moments of “Really??…Really??”
  • Full of underlying social commentary from the playhouse of politics even a substitute for Obamacare is presented. haha,
  • Could have run longer as the final act seems rushed for time’s sake. Why did they do this?
  • Definitely questionable moments making me stretch my belief in the laws/rules set by the film
  • Shocking and surprising moments of violence and twists
  • Sharlto Coplay in one of the best roles I’ve seen him in being so different I didn’t recognize him for a bit. Could’ve used more of him I think.
  • Predictable ending? perhaps…the journey…not so much. Impressive nonetheless.

Haha, well, those are some of the less embarrassing excerpts from my notes while watching. elysium-movie-matt-damon (1)

Ultimately, Elysium was better than expected. Keeping the interest and excitement all the way through and tying pieces of the entire film together through the lens of the central character’s journey. I thought it to be quite excellent, though a bit over-ambitious at times and bit skimpy on the character development overall.

My Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars for Elysium.elysium-movie-poster-1

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what a few other movie-reviewing friends of mine had to say:

Thoughts from Bloggers Around the Block:

Ruth @ Flixchatter.net: It could’ve been a more in depth and compelling film though, alas the the typical Hollywood happy ending keeps this from being a notch above a cool Summer sci-fi escapism.

Dan @ dtmmr.com: Despite featuring most of the same ideas and points Blomkamp studied, and did a lot better with, in his first flick, Elysium still grabs ahold of you with it’s compelling, emotional story, continues to work it’s tension up, until it’s about to practically explode and take you down with it. That’s a good thing, by the way.

Dan @ Fogsmoviereviews.com: Blomkamp bears much of the burden. “Elysium” is a little too in love with itself… it’s burdened with lots of slo mo, flashbacks, and “epic” scoring. At times, it comes across as cool, especially early, but by the end it wore on me and eventually felt ponderous.

Tajuana @ Tajgreenemoviesinreview: This is a good one. You won’t find yourself bored, and will easily find yourself vested in the characters still left on earth. Go see it…A-

Issy @ Projectedthoughts.com: You won’t leave Elysium thinking about its underlying theme as you do in District 9, but the beautiful visuals and the action will satisfy and entertain Sci-Fi fans. Blomkamp might have taken a minor step back but still showcases that his is one of the best young talents in Hollywood.

RorschachReviews.com: “An incredibly exciting second and third act that evade most major plot cliches. [although] An obnoxiously black-and-white view of the class conflict it centers around.”

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(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 250 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)

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Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

-T, The Focused Filmographer

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2013 1:15 am

    Interesting thoughts on a film I really look forward to watching.

    Like

    • August 14, 2013 7:50 am

      I liked it and I think it worked for me as I had low expectations going in. Thanks for commenting. Hope you enjoy

      Like

  2. August 14, 2013 4:24 am

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it Terrence. I’m looking forward to catching this eventually. And dude, you need to INCLUDE the embarrassing cliff notes you cut out, because that’d be awesome!!!

    Like

    • August 14, 2013 7:51 am

      Thanks man. Haha, it was already embarrassing telling everyone I am that guy who walks into the theater and writes notes on his notepad every few minutes let alone share them. haha

      It makes for fun reading afterwards, especially as some of the lines merge into each other (result from writing in the dark) haha. Glad they were enjoyable to read. Thanks a bunch!

      Like

  3. August 14, 2013 5:37 am

    The story could of been stronger but it was still an enjoyable sci fi flick. Nice review and thanks for the quote.

    Like

    • August 14, 2013 7:52 am

      Agreed. Thank you for reading and commenting. My pleasure man!

      Like

  4. August 14, 2013 8:13 am

    Nice observation of the shaky cam on Earth and the steady cam on Elysium. I think we should’ve spent more time on Elysium getting to understand why these people were such uncaring jerks. The picture of humanity was painted in very bold strokes. I liked Matt Damon though. He really brought his A game with this performance.

    Like

    • August 21, 2013 7:45 pm

      Yeah. I like looking at stuff like that. I figure that sometimes, when a shaky cam is used, there is a purpose. There should be. I found that to be a difference between the 2 worlds and was glad to bring that out.

      I wanted to see more of Elysium and its people as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and thanks for reading.

      Like

  5. August 14, 2013 2:14 pm

    Hey thanks for the link! Great notes there T, I usually don’t take notes at all during movie watching but I might have to start now, ahah, esp as I’m so forgetful! Y’know I wish they didn’t make EVERY protagonist to be a hero, I mean can’t we just have a social commentary without necessarily presenting a “solution” for the problems??? It’s a quasi solution anyway as the one they’ve got here makes no sense and actually would create MORE problems!

    Like

    • August 21, 2013 7:47 pm

      Thanks for reading, Ruth. haha. yeah, i like to take notes because there are so many things I forget that I wanted to say when I start writing the review. LOL.

      You bring up a good point about EVERY protagonist being a hero. But so often we just want to cheer for someone. I look forward to hopefully more originality in story to come from hollywood now that Christopher Nolan is focusing on something other than superheroes. :)

      Like

  6. August 30, 2013 2:50 am

    Saw this while on holiday (it was my birthday movie (always see one on my birthday)) and really loved it. Copley was great and brought so much fun into his role. Enjoyed it a bit more than you did…although this didn’t reach the level of District 9.

    Like

    • August 30, 2013 8:39 am

      There was quite a bit that I liked about it. Glad you got to see it and that you loved it. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

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