In 2009, director Neill Blomkamp surprised the world with his film “District 9,” a sleeper hit that featured insights into racism, xenophobia, and segregation through a very creative science fiction setting. Four years later, he again puts the sci fi spin into social commentary with “Elysium.” This time around, Blomkamp has a big budget, big actors, big effects, but not the big impact.
“Elysium” is the name given to a satellite world created for the super rich to live in while the overpopulated earth lives in poverty. People from the poor earth risk their lives to cross the space border to Elysium. Elysium seems to be primarily white, while everyone on Earth seems to speak Spanish. People on Elysium have health machines, people on Earth don’t…that’s kinda the whole plot. Now, if “District 9” was an allegory for apartheid, “Elysium” is a simile that’s as obvious as a really simple similar thing…
Technically speaking, this is a great piece of work. Elysium looks phenomenal. If there’s anything that Blomkamp is great at, it’s sci fi action. Not only does everything look believable, from the dystopian future earth to the floating “halo” for the rich, but the shots are beautifully orchestrated. There is no lack of action in the film; and it’s got plenty of blood to go around with it.
The direction lacked when it came to the human aspect of the film. First of all, Jodie Foster was simply HORRIBLE! I mean, JUST AWFUL! I would have rather had her just give her rant from the Golden Globes again even if it doesn’t fit with the script at all. Matt Damon is incredible as always, but it’s kinda weird that he seems to be the only white guy left on Earth, and also the only one that will fight to save Earth. Diego Luna makes an appearance, but looks lonely without Gael Garcia Bernal. Oh, and William Fichtner because, oh hell you never need a reason for William Fichtner!
So here’s the run down. It’s an overall cool movie done by a guy who obviously played a lot of “Halo.” The plot is painfully obvious, littered with clichés, and beyond the in your face social commentary, the script would have been better fit for a first person shooter video game instead a big screen film. It’s enjoyable, but it’s a missed opportunity for what could have been a powerful look at the human condition.