Elysium – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

ElysiumElysium – 3.5/5 – August, as I’ve mentioned before, is the swan song for the summer season, and a dumping ground before the Oscar season kicks up.  Even when this swoon happens, there are still some bright spots in August.  Elysium is one of those films.  Starring Matt Damon, this film is one that speaks truth of our reality, but does it with a spin of sci-fi.  Overall, minus predictable moments, Elysium is a film that stands out, and shines on its own.

Premise: In the year 2154 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on Elysium, and the rest who live on earth.  On Earth, it is overpopulated and a ruined habitat.  Caught in between both worlds is Max.  When he is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a mission, that will not only save himself, but will also bring a bridge between both worlds.

In the lead role of Max, we have Matt Damon.  In this role, he creates a character that is both raw and flawed, but is a true volatile, stern person as a man.  Living in this futuristic dismal earth, you watch the agony of the world through his eyes.  Damon exudes the hardship and pain of people living without the privilege of wealth and medical care (like those on Elysium).  No matter if it’s interacting with other or dealing with his own emotional discords, he gives us someone worth believing.  He is authentic; making you feel what could be felt in a world not far from our own.  As the primary antagonist Delacourt, Jodie Foster gives us a truly hateful, spiteful person.  She runs the defenses on Elysium, and does not second guess protecting this privilege world, even if it cost lives.  She doesn’t really have much screen time as Damon’s character, but is decent when on screen, and provides enough with her actions and lines to want to hate her.  Out of the main players in this film, the one that is ultimately the ‘show stealer’ is Kruger, played by Sharlto Copley.   As Kruger, Copley gives us a sleeper agent for Elysium who works on earth.  As this character, Copley simply creates a fearful maniac.  No matter if it is in his slick and impressionable charisma, dialogue or action scenes, he pretty much commands it all.   Also, as you watch Copley, you see an authentic and appealing vile man, which exudes the complexion of this world, regardless if it’s on Earth or Elysium.   If you were to say the film was great, Kruger is one of the reasons it is great.  Outside of these 3 characters, everyone else is common aspects you’d see in a pseudo/futuristic world.  You have your ‘privilege’ characters, the ‘non-privilege’ characters, and all the supplements of society throughout (police force, workers, nurses/doctors, children, etc.).  The most notable character from this secondary list is Wagner Moura as Spider and Alice Braga as Frey.  Both these characters play pivotal roles in the film, and help provide some background for Max’s character.  Other than this, they are more ploys for the plot more than characters you can be attached to.

The direction of the film is a combination of varied genres.  In this particular story, you have on the top layer a generic Sci-Fi film.  The sci-fi element is at the forefront, as we see this in the introduction and throughout majority of the film:

It is the year 2154, and the world exists as two parts.  The privilege lives on a space colony called ‘Elysium’.  The rest of the human population lives on Earth.  Here, we see that world is devastated by crime, over population and famine.

After this quick introduction, we are then introduced to the main two players; Max and Delacourt.  Max, you see is a ‘down on his luck’ earthling, that is trying to find a way to live his life and not return back to crime.  Delacourt, is the Defense Minster of Elysium.  You see she has a strong grip on this place, as in the first scene you see her, she takes out 2 ships trying to land on the space colony.  Throughout the first half, we focus on these two, as we weave through standard sci-fi elements showing as both their stories are leading towards a crossroads. As this happens, their lives become intertwine into a single motive, as you see that Max has something that will change both worlds.  You see this single story emphasizes a lot of themes regarding social structure, healthcare issues, and power struggle.  This is when the Sci-Fi tone starts to turn, as the film becomes encapsulated by the common struggles of modern society through the characterization of Max and Delacourt.  As you watch the film shift, Max has to take on a job he doesn’t want to, and find a way to Elysium.  As the film continues, Kruger gets introduce, and you watch as the ‘show stealer’ adds another element.  As you watch him interact with Max and Delacourt, you see additional themes of wealth, power and sacrifice begin to unfold, and emotional overtones swirl within the action and ‘futuristic’ set pieces.  As you watch this, you become attached to characters, as well as believe in both their fight and this world.  This is a great element and shows how the director (Neil Blomkamp) brings believability to the unbelievable.  Once the film moves into the third act, the ideas are still a strong part, but you also get injected with more emphasize on the action and sci-fi elements of the film, which includes the robots and weaponry of Elysium.  Once the film hits the climax, all emotional development sparks a fuse, as you are both moved by individual sacrifices, as you start to see a real purpose in the characters, story and overall elements introduced in this futuristic world.

The cinematography of this film is a stupendous.  When you see both creations (Elysium and the over populated Earth) everything juxtaposes each other, as you see a great contrast of modern society in this futuristic world.  On earth, everything is complete deteriorated.  No matter if it’s the cities, homes, buildings, roads, or even the people themselves; you can see the struggle on earth, as well as feel as if this is your own home.  The opposite is on Elysium, where everything is proper, lavishing and luxurious, no matter if it’s the homes or the people.  In the contrast, you see the common ‘hopeless vs. hopeful’ as well as ‘struggle vs. success’.  When themes also exude through the visuals, it adds a deep dynamic that allows for multiple viewings of the film. The score of the film adds a deeper level, exuding both the emotional overtones, as well as adding effects to the action scenes.

Overall, Elysium is a great sci-fi film that introduces a lot of elements of modern society.  Matt Damon is great as Max, as well as Jodie Foster as the defense minister, Delacourt, but Copley knocks it out of the park as Kruger.  The visuals are awe striking, but grounded, and the score does well in complimenting both.  Aside for this, sci-fi elements feel predictable, and if it wasn’t for characters and themes, you could say it was another ‘generic’ sci-fi film.  If you’re a fan of Damon of sci-fi films, this is one for you.  I’d say this is a definite watch if you want something different to watch at the movies.

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