Brian West

“Elysium” – Reviewing a New Sci-fi Classic

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Damn that was good…….
I loved Elysium. As the movie ended I sat in my seat amazed at what I had just watched. Most movies do a fair job at entertaining, they give you a little freedom from thinking for a couple hours than send you on your way. Great movies are the ones that not only entertain you, but stick with you long after the credits roll. Elysium was that kind of movie. Neill Blomkamp has followed up his hit mega hit District 9 with a movie that will entertain you, it will make you feel, but most of all it will make you want to immediately see it again.

The film takes place in 2154, and the population has been divided into two groups; the super rich, and everyone else. Earth has become overpopulated, with most citizens living a fairly bleak existence. The rich live on Elysium, a space station luxury world where all your needs are met. Including the one thing that everyone on earth wants, medical beds that can cure any ailment. Much like District 9, Elysium uses current social issues as a story telling backdrop. Class discrimination, immigration, poverty, and health care are the big ones this time around. Unlike District 9 however, Neill Blomkamp isn’t so heavy handed in using these issues to help tell this story. The social issues don’t drive the film, they are used as the environment that creates this story.

Elysium opens with Max (Matt Damon), as a small child. He is living at an orphanage dreaming of one day going to Elysium with his childhood love, Fry (Alice Brage). Fast forward many years later, Max is now an ex-felon just trying to stay honest, staying clear of his troubled past and working a dead end factory job. Max has an accident and ends up only having five days left to live. With no other options, Max must use his criminal skills when he takes a dangerous job that can get him to the one place that can save his life, Elysium. To get there he must confront a psychotic sleeper agent (District 9’s Sharlto Copley), and go through the one person who controls Elysium, Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster). Along the way Max becomes more than just one man looking for salvation, he becomes the best hope for the everyone on earth.
Enough can not be said about the actors in this film. Matt Damon performance as likeable anti-hero Max carries the emotional weight of the film. Damon does a great job of letting us feel the desperation of his early choices and then the courage and determination of his later ones. Jodie Foster is genuinely evil as the secretary of defense. It was strange to see her play a role like this, but I hated her every time she was on screen, so I guess mission accomplished. Then there was Sharlto Copley. His portrayal of the agent Kruger is nothing short of epic. He steals almost every scene his in. His Agent Kruger is relentless, ruthless, and so freaking crazy that at times you cant help but laugh. Watching Copley act is a treat, he needs to be in more movies.

Neill Blomkamp is becoming one of my favorite directors. His way of blending flawless special effects with real practical effects gives his movies a great sense of realism. He doesn’t rely on computer animated special effects to tell his story, something hopefully more directors will take note of. Elysium will inevitably be compared to Blomkamp’s other film, District 9. There are definitely parallels between the two movies, but I think it’s Elysium’s clear direction towards sci-fi action that really set the two films apart. Elysium might be this years best action movie. It’s action sequences are some of the best I’ve seen. The choreography is top notch; all the fights, whether shootouts or hand to hand combat, are brutal and quite satisfying to watch. The mix of slow motion and multiple camera angle shots work very well. It was just flat out fun to watch. The Halo fan in me still cant help but wonder what could’ve been had Blomkamp been allowed to make that movie.

There are a few things that keep this movie from being perfect. Some of the story elements don’t make complete sense. Wouldn’t be easier to just give the poor people a few of those all healing medical beds, than to keep trying to stop them from breaking into Elysium? The biggest issue might be the fact that 20 minutes into the movie you know how it’s going to end. The impact of the story is still felt, but it does take away some of the emotional reactions you feel from being surprised. Ultimately though, none of Elysium’s flaws derail the movie, and chances are you wont even realize there were problems till well after you’ve left the theater.
Elysium is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Its a hundred minute thrill ride that will have you amazed by what you have seen. The Story will move you, the action and effects will wow you, and Elysium will leave you thinking about the fact that someday anyone of us could end up being Max. I Highly recommend this film to anyone old enough to get into a rated R movie. Elysium doesn’t disappoint.

I give Elysium 9.5 outta 10 reasons for Microsoft to let Neill Blomkamp direct Halo

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