Thursday, 22 August 2013

Film Review in Brief: Elysium

Elysium, a film in which Matt Damon is essentially a giant walking USB stick.

Elysium is the second film by Neill Blomkamp, the prodigious director responsible for the universally applauded District 9.  Much like D9, it is set in a future world where the social apartheids of our time are put under a magnifying glass, but unlike D9, it horribly degenerates into action-genre muscle-flexing, in yet another boot to the head for the trampled, barely alive body of science fiction.

In District 9, Blomkamp’s vision is so lucidly realised that he put the first act in a documentary format, which establishes the many fine grains of detail that make the film so memorable.  In Elysium’s opening, new “plot” elements are devised every five minutes with no real context or explanation, and the socio-political structure of the world is largely obfuscated.  This would be fine if it wasn’t trying to be a film about socio-politics.  Overlapping with this, the overall construction of the narrative is littered with coincidences, inconsistencies, plot holes, and almost Pacific Rim-like levels of general voids in logic (like how do three people with handheld weaponry storm the ministry of defence?).

Am I the president of Elysium?  President of humanity?  Do nations still exist?  Is Earth being run by some kind of corporate oligarchy while I do the incredibly easy job of babysitting all these rich people?

The main problem with the presentation of Elysium is that it paints an image of stark inequality and then explores it by having Matt Damon run around punching people.  None of the characters have any kind of development at all and are unambiguously either totally evil, righteously good or, in some cases, utterly pointless scenery.

Perhaps the one redeeming feature is Sharlto Copley’s wonderfully malicious performance as Evil Mercenary Guy, whom I sense got more screentime than was really warranted for the character because of this. 

He hates the main characters as much as I do.

In conclusion, Elysium made me angry and disappointed.

Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below.

Oh and the fact that Matt Damon dies at the end makes no sense.  They had already read the data at the gang hideout, and in fact it was on the big screen.  Why did that not kill him?  And it’s clearly in a digital format and in a code which a computer can read, so why bother putting it in his brain in the first place?  0/10


  1. I really enjoyed District 9 and am going to see this hoping it's as good. Am I going to be massively disappointed?

    1. I think Simon's slightly harsh here. It's a pretty engaging movie and you'll be entertained enough that it's a good watch. But question it any further or compare it to D9 in terms of world building and it'll fall flat as hell. Still a fine film, just don't go and watch it expecting D9 in my opinion.

  2. Hard to avoid spoilers, but felt end of this film did not really resolve anything. The benefit bestowed on earth might cause more problems than it solves in the long run.

    I agree there was no character development.

    1. Yeah the final scene just exacerbated the problem that was stated in the set-up text at the beginning of the film. Overpopulation and all that.

      Hey what are you talking about no character development. Spider calmed down abit, kind of.

  3. Once you have seen the film, look up Elysium plot holes on google.