Friday, August 16, 2013


I have to struggle to remember the last high concept sci-fi film that was any good.  They really are hard to come by these days. The ones that come immediately to mind are Gattaca, Moon, Primer and District 9. Good sci-fi films really are a lost art.  Failing to make it into that last catagory is Elysium. This is the newest film from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. I very much enjoyed District 9. Elysium--not so much. It's a pretty obvious movie with a none too subtle message about the have's and have not's. It has a couple of fun action sequences and great effects, but we know where the movie is going at all times.

4 guys tinkering in the garage in Primer(2004) ends up being far more chilling than anything in Elysium  
There are literally no surprises here so by the time we get to the films end, ultimately, it's a complete waste of time. There is a good cast but they don't really look like their hearts are in it. Except, that is, for Sharlto Copley who I think is terrifically entertaining in everything I've seen him in. Foster is really a wet blanket in this which is a shame because her performance in Spike Lee's Inside Man was brilliant and showed that she could play a devious, mercenary character with charm, wit and complexity. Here she plays a one dimensional security guard with delusions of grandeur. Badly. She tries to hide it by speaking in French but it doesn’t work.

Matt Damon in Elysium

In the future, Earth is a cesspool and all the rich folks live on the luxury satellite Elysium. Jodie Foster is the satellites security chief who doesn't have time for any niceties or criticism of her tactics. But say what you want, she keeps all those pesky poor and, in some cases, dying immigrants off the rich folks lawns. Matt Damon is a worker bee with a criminal past who is exposed to lethal radiation on the job thanks to a jerk of a boss (who isn’t completely dissimilar to one I had in the late 80s) and has five days to live.

Jodie Foster and a glass of water in Elysium
With nothing to lose, he goes to his old crime boss pal to try and score a ticket to Elysium where they have these cool healing machines that can cure just about everything short of death itself. Part of the price for that ticket is to kidnap a wealthy businessman and steal the information in his brain which includes codes to get into Elysium and other stuff that I didn‘t care about. To help Damon in his efforts, he is given an exoskeleton that enhances his strength that is literally screwed to his body. And not even with self tapping screws!  Just regular old machine screws!  Seriously?!

Sharlto Copley, angry at his two flunkies in Elysium
Unknown to Damon, the businessman they choose to kidnap has been hired by Foster to help her stage a coup of Elysium. When the info is downloaded into Damon's head, Foster is determined to capture him and get the rather embarrassing info back and, after that, kill him. To accomplish this she needs the help of savage trouble shooter Sharlto Copley. But when Copley finds out what Damon has in his head, he decides that he also wants to use the info to take over Elysium. Meanwhile, in order to get some leverage against Damon, Copley has kidnapped Damon's former love played by Alice Braga(here playing a character that is almost indistinguishable from her character in I Am Legend and every other part she‘s ever played). Turns out Braga also needs to get to Elysium so that she can get her dying daughter healed. It all ends in a climactic battle between Copley and Damon on Elysium.

Thurman and Hawke in Gattaca(1997). Scenes from films that are better than the one I'm actually reviewing are fun to look at, aren't they?
Elysium is the second disappointing big budget sci fi film I've seen this year, the first being Oblivion. This movie is much better than Oblivion, mainly because Elysium doesn't have Tom Cruise and does have Sharlto Copley. Copley’s over the top psycho mercenary "Kruger" is the highlight of the film. Whether he’s filled with panic while turning into a “Prawn” or playing the lunatic pilot Madman Murdock in The A-Team, Copley never fails to entertain. Unfortunately, even his exuberance can’t save the mundane Elysium.

You got a problem with that?


  1. AWESOME & Entertaining to read! Thanks Mentor, (Billy too!)

    1. Exactly my take on this movie! Right on Mentor!

  2. Thanks, Zen! Glad you enjoyed it!