Twitter Review: Elysium elevates what we can do with CGI, though the relentless action is almost too much to handle
Director Neill Blomkamp knows what he is doing. In 2009′s District 9, he shows a well crafted story combined with brilliant CGI that seems to almost revolutionize the way we view it on screen, and he seems to have done it again (and this time, with more money–without sacrificing anything) with Elysium.
The year is 2154 in Los Angeles. The extreme wealthy (call them “one percenters”, if you will) live on a Utopia space station called Elysium. There is no war, no sickness, and no poverty. The rest of Earth’s population live on our devastated planet; there’s overcrowding, famine, disease, war, and danger. Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is desperate to get to Elysium after he is lethally dosed with radiation following a work accident. He agrees to work for Spider (Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) in exchange for a one-way ticket to Elysium, where a “med bay” can remove his radiation poisoning. All he has to do is hijack one of Elysium’s citizens (William Fichtner, Armageddon) and steal important data that allows Spider to access Elysium’s systems and allow for his illegal immigration business to continue.
The overlord is Ms. Delacourt (amazingly played by Jodie Foster), the Defense Secretary on the station who wants to overthrow the president and place herself at the head. She dispatches the despicable mercenary M. Kruger (Sharlto Copley, District 9‘s hero and a complete opposite here) to destroy him and retrieve the information Max has stored in his brain.
The story itself is nearly flawless. Blomkamp structures his story so that character is matched with action, and is tied so well with the CGI that it’s almost indistinguishable from the real (the ships seem like they were crafted from real material and could easily fly today as on the screen). Everything is very well crafted, and you can see how the director works so well with this big name talent. The fight sequences are relentless, and rarely feel choreographed so much as what might actually happen if you strap strength-enhancing suits onto two men and give them weapons to attack each other. The dialogue is great, though there are certain moments (when Kruger or Spider, and even Max speak) that it moves so fast and switches languages so effortlessly that you can’t keep up with it. I sometimes wished that I had subtitles to better understand some of the accents.
There is also the action to consider. This movie is very violent (of course it would be with the genre), and the action starts about 15 minutes into it and almost never stops until the end credits. I had the same problem with Man of Steel, though with Elysium there is a method to the madness. There is a means to an end, and it certainly takes a few twists to get there. The overall themes about what we are doing to our planet, and immigration and the steps we as a people try to prevent it seem to beat you over the head with them. It’s not distracting; it only becomes apparent when the movie ends.
Elysium keeps the characters in the foregrounds so as not to lose them in the massive amounts of action, though the diction of the dialogue could almost have used subtitles so that we could understand most of the characters. The movie also could have used some more quiet moments to let the audience back down from the heightened senses that emanate from the screen. Despite that, this is one movie that you need to see, if only to put aside your cares for a while and lose yourself in a movie.
Release Date: August 9, 2013
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Written by Neill Blomkamp
R // 1hr 49min