Friday, August 16, 2013

Movie Review - Elysium


Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, and more.

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp Written by: Neill Blomkamp Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch Original Music by: Ryan Amon

Premise: Living on a polluted and overpopulated Earth, Max always dreamed of going to Elysium. But when he takes a fatal dose of radiation during a work accident, finding a way to get to Elysium is the only way he might be able to save himself from an ugly, agonizing death. (Rated R)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Matt Damon did a great job as the disillusioned and dying anti-hero, Max. Jodie Foster's portrayal of Delacourt, the head of keeping Elysium secure, was chilling. Sharlto Copley was beautifully manic. It was a total treat to watch the cast interacting.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects team did some truly detailed work on the film. Elysium itself was definitely a work of art. There were also plenty of fun gadgets and robots to drool over. The healing beds were cool. And I totally fell in love with John Carlyle's personal transport.

The Cherry Blossom trees in the heart of Elysium with their petals blowing in the breeze were gorgeous. But aside from the symbolism they were meant to evoke, the placement seemed incredibly odd, since it was deep inside the station and not one of the 'people' areas.

Kruger's reconstruction scene was as awesome as it was unnerving.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: On the story arc itself there was much to like. The fact Max was an anti-hero, and staunchly remained so for most of the film, was an usual direction and made the film more realistic and the ending more poignant as a result. There's also a silent moment where Delacourt truly realizes what is about to come to pass and her role in it all - how she was the one to bring her worst nightmare to life - and accepts responsibility in the only way left open to her.

Sadly, however, though the story itself worked very well, some of the science and world building around it, did not. While exoskeletons will give the wearer more strength and the ability to hold up more - Max's suit was missing a couple of vital pieces to allow him to do much of what he does. He uses his hand to bend a car's metal doorframe - but since he is using his bare hand, and not one in a hydraulic glove, his fingers would not have been able to exert the necessary pressure on the metal on their own. His feet have the same issue with regard to his kicks. While the exoskeleton would give him the power to exert that much force, his feet are not protected, so he would have broken one the first time he tried it.

The medical beds, while totally cool, could be found in every household in Elysium. This implied the technology was easy to mass produce. No reason was ever given as to why they could only be used in Elysium. (Like huge energy costs, or the need for super rare materials - though that would still be hard to believe as prevalent as the units seemed to be.) Since it was likely an Armadyne product, it made even less sense they wouldn't use it at their factories on Earth. Those in power might believe life was cheap, but educated/trained workers are hard to come by. Training a replacement would cost them more than just healing the injured party and putting them back to work. It would have also done wonders in cutting back the resentment from those stuck on Earth, able to only watch as Elysium drifted overhead with medical wonders that could have been used to heal their loved ones.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: Some good fights and stunts were sprinkled through the film. Most looked great as well, except when they descended to using the shaky cam. My husband took points off major points for that. Luckily, aside from one battle, they were sparing with the technique.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Filmed at several locations, including Mexico City and Bear Creek Park in Surrey British Columbia, they found the perfect spots for conveying the subpar Earth living and the idyllic existence in Elysium. (This is also a sad thing, as people really do live in such impoverished places.) The spanning shots of the city, but more so the ones of Elysium, were stunning.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The makeup department did a spectacular job. Especially with Kruger's face and Max's head. For Kruger it was the ports and bits of tech he'd had embedded into his skin and seemed a part of him. Max's were obviously more of a 'hatchet job', which gave a nice subliminal contrast between the two men.

Conclusion: Great characters, good action scenes (except those spoiled by shaky cam), and cool visuals made "Elysium" quite entertaining. The bad science, bad world building, and shaky cam dragged it back from being a great film.

Rating: 3.75 out 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better for Matinee)

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