2013's Most Anticipated: Elysium

2. Elysium (R) - Runtime: 109 minutes
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp

I think I may have built this movie up a bit too much. I was really, really excited to see this movie. Everything screamed "COLIN WILL LOVE THIS!" and I felt pretty stoked about it despite some bad reviews it was getting. Despite all the hype that I've built up for myself and despite all the bad reviews, this movie kind of lands with a thud. I won't say that Elysium was great, nor will I say it was bad, it just kind of falls in the middle. And maybe part of me died a little inside because I expected way too much of this movie.

The story is easy to follow - 140 odd years in the future, poor people live in the slum cities on Earth while the rich and privileged get to live forever (literally!) on Elysium - a giant orbiting space station with the nicest amenities - no war, poverty or disease. And no one is allowed to come and join the party up there. Matt Damon plays Max, a carjacker who finds himself in a predicament when he's given a high-level dose of radiation due to an accident at his factory job. He has five days to live and most of the movie is spent showing Max trying to get to Elysium. Jodie Foster plays Delacourt, a tough security administrator who wants to control Elysium and is starting to organize a coup. It all ends in a big climactic action scene when Max finally arrives on Elysium.

It all sounds so wonderful - there's a good amount of action and you actually do care what happens to Max and his friends. He's on a mission to change the hierarchy of Elysium and Earth, but the way the plot evolves and what happens was just too much for me to take in. What I mean is that basically all Max has to do is upload a new software upgrade into Elysium's main computer so that all Earth citizens are given Elysium-level status. Thus apparently ending any sort of class struggle with just the touch of a button.

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD: Aside from the really horrible cliches (seriously, why in the future do so many corporations, governments, etc. rely on ONE MAIN COMPUTER to control everything??), the resulting end game doesn't make much sense. Yeah, sure if Max gets to the computer to upload the new software, sure every Earth citizen will be granted every right (including automatic robot healthcare), but there is a government running Elysium and I can't imagine they would just stand by and let this happen. The movie ends happily, but in reality I think the victory is short-lived and in a couple of months things would go back to the way they were. END SPOILERS.

Most of the time I could forgive a movie for not being thorough or having some tiny logical issues, but I could not really let this one go. It just bugged me to no end that the whole of Elysium is run by computers and how simple it all seemed. The movie collapses under it's own heavy-handed messaging, too. Delacourt and her malicious cohort, Kruger (played by Sharlto Copley) are so evil and cliched that it's just too silly to take seriously. Not to mention that Foster and Copley really ham it up on screen to the point where I was laughing more than anything.

Elysium had a grand ambition. But it falls short in terms of being a great sci-fi movie. It has too much faulty logic and bad cliches for the sci-fi genre. And the acting is simply kooky. While the action scenes and the story of Max's character trying to find redemption are really well done, the rest of the movie is either blah or just plain bad. I loved how the movie looked - Blomkamp has a knack for making things look spectacular, even the ruins of Los Angeles. But it's not enough to save this movie from itself.

Rating: Rent It!

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