His Elysium Review:
Elysium is a hard film to determine how I felt about it. It seems like a movie that I should really like, but for some reason I could not quite get into it as much as I had hoped I would. Elysium stars Matt Damon as Max, Jodie Foster as the Secretary of Defense for Elysium, and Sharlto Copley as Kruger, a deranged assassin that plays a big role in the film. The film is directed by Neill Blomkamp, most famous for his film District 9, the sci-fi thriller movie about a derelict alien spaceship that strands millions of aliens in South Africa, and how the government deals with them. Sharlto Copley starred in that film as the main protagonist.
Elysium is a sci-fi film, where the “have-nots” live on the now decrepit Earth, while the “haves” live on a space station known as Elysium. The main protagonist is a man named Max (Matt Damon), who has had a rough life, from the conditions on Elysium and his own self-made problems with burglary and theft. The movie starts with Max a kid, with his friend Frey (Alice Braga) as a kid, who is determined to get both of them to Elysium. In the present, things didn’t go as planned for Max, and we learn he has had some run-ins with the law. He is working a factory job manufacturing security robots that he so despises.
Meanwhile, we see Spider (Wagner Moura), a human trafficker attempting to send shuttles to Elysium for a better life, including for medical procedures, as the technology on Elysium has improved well beyond what is on Earth. These shuttle attempts have all failed however, with all people aboard the shuttles shot down or captured, at the orders of Delacourt (Jodie Foster), Elysium’s Secretary of Defense. This causes some political strife for her and the rest of the political in rule, who would seem to rather have a much more silent way of dealing with the “illegal aliens”.
Matt Damon lets his mouth run too much when a security robot investigates him for contraband, and winds up with a broken arm. He goes to the hospital, where he is reunited with Frey, his childhood friend. They schedule a coffee date after much begging and pleading from Max, and he heads back to work. Unfortunately, his day at work is not going to be a good one, and as seen in the trailers, he winds up trapped in a room, being exposed to lethal doses of radiation. The doctor’s prognosis is 5 days before he dies from organ failure. He is given pain medication, and sent away.
This finally sets up the primary storyline of the film, as Max makes a deal with Spider to steal data from an Elysium citizen. Max chooses John Carlyle (William Fichtner), the CEO of his former employer. Max is then painfully outfitted with his exo-suit we have seen in the film, and begins his mission. As one could imagine, the plan doesn’t go so well, and that is when Kruger becomes more involved in the story, set on hunting down Max.
The story continues with several twists and plot development devices, that I will save describing, so that if readers decide to see it, they will not be completely spoiled. As for my thoughts, as I said earlier, it is hard to say what exactly I didn’t like about the film. I think it may have taken too long to get into the crux of the story, which may have bored me to some extent. Matt Damon’s acting was good, but I am not sure I enjoyed his character’s story arc as much as I had hoped.
Jodie Foster’s character seemed a bit over the top with her snide remarks and smirks. I felt the story was a little over complicated with the political upheaval on top of the story of “haves” versus “have-nots”. I think it was a bit too much for the film, and would have liked a more straight forward approach.
I had some problems with the logic of the film, but these are probably due to over-thinking the film, and would not likely bother the average movie-goer.
I felt the special effects were great, and the futuristic technology was believable. One problem that did bother me though: Why would Max’s suit need a screen on the back of his head? He will never be able to read it! That was a silly side note that just really was humorous when it probably wasn’t supposed to be.
Overall, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10. It was definitely enjoyable, but I was hoping for more, which in actuality probably means I was hoping for less. The plot seemed a little overcomplicated, and could have used a little quicker pace in the beginning.
Her Elysium Review:
The year is 2154. Earth is overpopulated, overcrowded, and pretty much a dump. Meanwhile, the privileged elite live on the beautiful, well landscaped space station Elysium that orbits the Earth, and get to live perfect lives. They even have a machine that can eradicate any trace of disease. This is the setting of the sci-fi action movie Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9), starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Matt Damon plays Max, an ex-con who lives on Earth in a dystopian Los Angeles, while Jodie Foster plays Secretary of Defense Delacourt, who lives on Elysium.
Max has always dreamed of going to Elysium ever since he was a little boy, and he promised his friend Frey he would take her there one day. But apparently the only way to get up there is pay an extreme amount of money to illegally ride up in a dilapidated old space shuttle — but what happens once the shuttles get close to Elysium, I’ll leave for you to see. Anyway, so Max had turned to a life of crime so he could make money to go to Elysium, but when we meet him in the present, he is trying to put that life behind him and now has an honest job. The cops of the 22nd century are no longer humans, but robots (as are parole officers and various other positions), and Max works at the plant building the robots.
Unfortunately, Max is involved in a workplace accident, exposing him to a lethal amount of radiation that will cause him to die in 5 days — that is, unless he can get up to Elysium and use one of their healing machines to cure himself. But how is he going to buy a ticket up if he has no money? His only option is to go to his criminal connections, who have been bugging him to get back in the game, and offer to work for them in exchange for a ticket to Elysium. They give him a dangerous job to do, fuse an exoskeleton suit onto his body to make him stronger, and wind up putting Max in the middle of something bigger than he could have ever imagined.
Elysium is an action-packed sci-fi thriller, somewhat reminiscent of the last movie that Blomkamp wrote and directed, District 9. Indeed, even Sharlto Copley, the actor who played the main character in District 9, also stars in Elysium, albeit in a quite different capacity this time. Much like District 9 was an in-your-face social commentary on the slums of South Africa, Elysium also feels like a blatant social commentary on today’s border wars, especially with Secretary Delacourt calling the Earth refugees “undocumenteds.” The disparity between Earth and Elysium is all too obvious, with the poor people of Earth speaking Spanish and English, while the rich people on Elysium speak French and English. Although the film addresses the problem of inequality among the upper class and lower class, and tries to right that wrong, it does not address what might happen once equality is achieved.
But maybe this movie is a lot better and more enjoyable if you try not to think about it too much, ignore the social commentary, don’t think too far ahead, and just let it be a futuristic sci-fi movie. There are plenty of fun action scenes, and there were several instances where I had no idea what was going to happen next. There were definitely a few surprises that I never saw coming. I would have liked to see other areas of Earth than Los Angeles, however. Are the suburbs like that as well? How about the Midwest? Is that overpopulated too, or is it only the metropolitan and urban areas that are like that?
Also, I was a little disappointed to see that in 2154, the President is still a man. However, Secretary Delacourt does occupy a powerful position, and it is noteworthy that Secretary of Defense is a position that a woman has yet to hold in the United States.
Overall, I felt that Elysium was good, but not great. Enjoyable, but not epic. Matt Damon does a good job as the smart aleck with a troubled past, but I didn’t care too much for Jodie Foster or her (probably unnecessary) French accent.
My Rating: 7/10