Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review 196: "Elysium"

"I need to get to Elysium."

District 9 and a Half

      Outside of Pacific Rim and The World's End, Elysium proved to be one of my most highly anticipated movies of the summer. And the reason for that is also kinda what hurts Elysium a little bit. It's director Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9, one of the best recent sci-fi films and my personal favorite film of 2009. And now, here he's tasked with following up a masterpiece, which proves to be a naturally tough act to follow. That said, Elysium is still a damn good movie. Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the film follows Max (Matt Damon) who finds himself with only days to life after an accident and he's forced to team up with criminal Spider (Wagner Moura) in order to leave the impoverished Earth and travel to the rich space station Elysium. Tasked with retrieving information from businessman Carlyle (William Fichtner), Max finds himself struggling to also help his friend Frey (Alice Braga) and avoiding capture by psychopath Kruger (Sharlto Copley) and Elysium Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) in order to save himself.

The third Jaeger program was just pathetic.
Awesome Android

     As a whole, Elysium works very well. Blomkamp once again provides some fantastic sci-fi action and ideas here, all in a relatively thinly-veiled metaphor for border control, immigration, ETC. Yeah, much like District 9, subtlety is not really in Elysium's vocabulary. But the story does really work as once again Blomkamp's writing provides for a tight, exciting story that effectively pulls you into a fantastic world. The way this world works is cool, especially with the little touches like differences in the robots and the way the people most oppressed by the robots are the one's building them. Elysium is also pretty spectacular thanks to some excellent special effects. The design of Elysium in particular is amusing if you have knowledge of what Blomkamp original was hired to film (Hint: It's a video game series). The movie keeps presenting these really cool concepts, like the exoskeletons, or guns that fire exploding bullets or a gun that cut holes into literally anything. The world of Elysium is awesome and it's a lot of fun to see it grow on-screen.

Unsafe Levels of Cool

      In fact, that's where Elysium's problems actually begin to form. Elysium ultimately presents too many cool ideas. So many cool things are shown off that none of them really get a chance to be used all that much. Every gun in this movie has a cool twist, like the explody gun or hole gun and yet they are only used once. We see bits of Elysium, but never really how it works. Even the exoskeletons Damon wears he hardly uses much. The film has a lot of potential and while it makes good use out of it, it doesn't make great use out of it. There are some missed opportunities, some disappointing moments. The cast, however, does fortunately round things out in the film. Copley plays essentially the exact opposite of his character in District 9 and does so well in the role I would be surprised if people actually start rooting for him. Foster is also doing something strange, making a bad accent and slightly over-acting, but it works surprisingly well and she makes for a great villain. In fact, the film is only let down by Damon, whose character spends so much of the movie playing the very reluctant hero that it;s hard to root for him when his big, epic moments come.

Gee, I wonder what she does?
The Verdict

      Elysium is a strong, entertaining follow-up to District 9 that can't quite reach it's hype. The film struggle to make good use of all it's cool toys and our hero is kinda lackluster. However, the ideas and toys Elysium shows off are extremely cool and make for a interesting world that gets you invested in the story right when it hits that ground running. And thanks to some awesome action and great performances by Copley and Foster, the trip to Elysium is well worth it. Elysium gets 5 and a half stars out of 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment