I was a big fan of Blomkamp’s District 9 when I first saw it so had high hopes for his new film. The world created in Elysium feels very familiar, in fact District 9 could well have happened in the same universe as Elysium is set. Earth is an over populated, diseased dump who’s inhabitants are struggling through life living in a waste land, while the super rich live above Earth’s polluted hemisphere in a static space station built like something from Beverly Hills. Lots of political and social commentary could be spewed about Blomkamp’s message about the rich/poor divide and immigration looking at the theme’s through his two blockbusters… BUT that’s not really my style, you’ll have to go somewhere else if you want an intellectual debate.
Over all I enjoyed the story line, Matt Damon’s character Max goes on a balls out mission to reach Elysium for reasons I wont divulge (other than not having long to live which is common knowledge at this point). Whilst the power hungry Senator Delacourt (Jodie Foster) does everything in her power to stop him, with the help of the dastardly Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Sounds like a standard plot but the characters and the attention to detail in this future Universe are what makes Elysium intensely enjoyable.
There is an under-developed love story brewing in the wings with Alice Braga’s character Frey, a childhood companion who Max promised he would take to Elysium one day when they were small. Circumstances bring them back together just before Max starts his assault on Elysium and it brings some sympathy and a hint of romance to the story. Frey doesn’t develop very much more than a plot device though and their story together could have been fleshed out a little more.
Senator Delacourt is pretty much pure evil, but her intentions and motives are made clear very succinctly at the beginning of the film which I thought was a good move. Foster’s performance is good but her occasional French accent was a little off putting. Other than that a pretty strong force in the leading cast and very easy to hate (which is how this character should be).
Delacourt’s partner in crime Kruger is just plain satanic. Such a drastic change up in roles for Copley from the pitiful hero in District 9. I can’t explain how nasty this guy is, and that accent is SO scary used in the right way. I was blown away by his performance and would see it again just to watch him. For me there was something mesmerizing about this character and I hope Copley is picked up for more roles like this. “You wanna come and play in MY HOUSE?!” Nearly pooped my pants.
The main protagonist then – I don’t agree with the term ‘unlikely hero’ in this instance because Max is actually very selfish until he learns there is nothing to lose. He isn’t really a hero he has just come to the end of his tether if you ask me – BUT I loved this about his character, it felt more real. The human race is selfish and Max is an ordinary guy trying to survive. The introduction of his friend Julio and his development with Spider (Wagner Mara) were some of the best parts character wise and it showed us the down to earth (so to speak) side of our lead character. A wise move by the writers there.
The detail in the scenery and the weapons used in Elysium is pretty amazing. They use slow motion and camera angles brilliantly to capture the intense action scenes and fight sequences. I particularly enjoyed the use of the steady cam behind Max on two occasions, it almost looked like a computer game. Very cool.
My POV – there is a bit of everything in Elysium and it is SO well executed that you must go and see it at the cinema. I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than District 9 and I hope it gets the recognition at the box office. Possibly one of my top 5 films so far this year. BOOM I said it, and I can’t take it back.