Release Date: August 9th, 2013
Actors: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Current Location: In Theaters
Rotten Tomatoes: 66% - FRESH
Set in the year 2154, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
When this film first teased us with trailers, I honestly had no idea what it was. Matt Damon with a strange spinal attachment? Matt Damon with a shaved head? District 9 sequel? The last, sadly, is not true. In short, Elysium turns out to be much how the extended trailer tells us. Earth is poor and people are sick. While on Elysium, people are rich and healthy. Only citizens of Elysium are allowed special healing beds that will make your cancer go bye-bye in a matter of seconds. So did Elysium dare to entertain and awe the way District 9 did? Follow me after the jump to find out!
TAGLINE: (There's no real tagline, but this is enough of one: From the director of 'District 9' Yep, I'm sold.)It's hard to talk about a film that leaves you feeling a little underwhelmed when you should be slack-jawed. By the end, I was thinking of ways that would have made this movie better. Which means that something was wrong.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot and bore you, but a huge part of the film focused on Max (Matt Damon) as a little kid. We'd get flashbacks about his hopes and dreams of the future, and by the end, it started feeling like a Gladiator knock-off.
But the film did start off well. We get introduced to Max who's trying to clean up his act. No more car-jacking. No more crime or prison. He's going to work a crappy a job and date his childhood friend Frey, who happens to have a daughter with Leukemia.
Of course, things don't go according to plan. And that's how this happens:
Don't stare at that gif too long. It becomes seizure-inducing. Okay, so the plot moved quickly. It was fast-paced and before I knew it, Max was in yet another wave of trouble. He had to dig himself out again and again, facing the baddies on Elysium (Jodie Foster) and her rogue agents -- which include a gang of crazies and rapists.
Spider was one of the best characters. He served as the criminal mastermind behind all the trips from Earth to Elysium, desperately trying to find a way for the people of Earth to become citizens of Elysium and gain the same health benefits. The "Free Healthcare" mantra and "99% vs. 1%" was a little obvious. And maybe that was my biggest issue. It didn't feel new or subtle. The message was like a bulldozer, and I didn't feel like it was handled very well. Not when the biggest enemies became caricatures and two-dimensional.
Max, however, was pretty fleshed out. He was selfish, not willing to help the 99% because all he wanted was to make sure that he survived another day. His interactions with Frey seemed organic and weren't rushed, which I appreciated. And her little daughter was adorable. But can that make up for a lackluster ending and a message that wasn't delivered very well? Not really.
As always, I love the sets, robots, and art direction in Blomkamp's films. So beautiful. And the fights and gore will have you cringing and grimacing all the way through. There are some pretty gross scenes. An exploding face? The reconstruction of it? Yep, it's in there.
But another issue I had is the thing on Matt Damon's spine. That's supposed to give him strength equal to robots. And I never really believed he had the extra strength. Not even after he endured the surgical process of that metal contraption, which included being drilled in the spine and his skull cracked open.
This was the only time I thought that maybe he's bad ass.
But hey, those robots are cool.
ROBOT VERDICT: Disappointing overall with an ending that does not shock but rather leaves you wishing you could rewrite the film. I'd see it in theaters for the action, but if you have a large screen at home, wait for On Demand.