Monday, 9 September 2013

Elysium (2013) Review

This week, I put on my jumpsuit, shaved my head and skipped on down to the local theatre to see Elysium (2013) starring Matt Damon and directed by Neill Blomkamp.

The film tells the story of Max DaCosta (Damon), a down-on-his-luck guy who, after an accident at work brought on by negligence by the supervisor, has only 5 days to live. His only hope for survival are the medical facilities on the sub-orbital space station Elysium. The catch? Elysium is extremely well guarded (apparently) and only meant for the rich and wealthy while the rest of the sweaty masses live on a disease-ridden and overpopulated Earth.

If you're expecting another film like Blomkamp's directorial debut and Best Picture Oscar nominated District 9 (2009)...a taut, gritty, political drama about class separation that just happens to have a sci-fi're going to be sorely disappointed.

My assumption here is that, with all the good will District 9 (2009) garnered, Blomkamp was basically given a blank cheque and told to write and direct whatever the hell he wanted. And boy does it show.

There's enough wrong with this movie that I simply can't dedicate entire paragraphs to every point. I'm going to have to just give you the quick and dirty bullet points instead. 

WARNING: Here there be spoilers
  • Sharlto Copley is ridiculous as the lead bad guy. He's so over the top he makes other movie villains seem downright Shakespearian by comparison.
  • Matt Damon seems half asleep throughout most of this. I know he's supposed to be sick near the beginning of the movie, but he just never seems to engage with the audience. Most of the time, I just didn't much care what happened to him.
  • Jodie Foster is absolutely dreadful. She sounded like she was trying to effect some kind of an accent, but I have zero idea what it was supposed to be, other than terrible. Her motivations were sketchy at best and never really fleshed out. Her death (I warned ya!) not only comes as no surprise, but it's handled very poorly.
  • I hope William Fitchner was paid very well for his role in this film. Not only is his character utterly useless, but it's so cardboard thin and cliched I cringed every single time he was on the screen.
  • It's over 90 minutes before Damon's character actually gets to Elysium. Let me say that again. It's over 90 MINUTES.
  • Damon's underworld contact on Earth is a guy named Spider. Spider has a rather thick accent. Spider is a very fast talker. This means I didn't catch fully two-thirds of what Spider was saying most of the time.
  • Neill Blomkamp can only shoot a film with two types of cameras; a slow-motion one and an extremely shaky handheld one. Neither was flattering to this film. It's like Ang Lee and Paul Greengrass had a baby and that baby grew up to be an old person with palsy and that old person with palsy was operating the camera most of the time.
  • Jodie Foster's character asks William Fitchner's character to make her a program that will put Elysium under her control. Fichter even labels her plan as a "coup". Somehow, when this one program is run, it actually does the exact opposite of that thing, making everyone everywhere a citizen of Elysium and sending help out to the entire Earth. What?
  • And then there's the suit. You've seen the trailers. You know Damon gets strapped into this suit looking dealie that appears to give him super powers and is the key to getting on to Elysium. Only it's not. The suit almost never comes into play. It also doesn't do anything to help him get to Elysium. It kinda gets used in a couple of fights and it ends up storing this mystical, magical program (like a really painful USB stick) and that's about it.

To summarize, this film looks terrible due to the shoddy camera work. The plot is laughable, the action is sub-standard and all the high ideals put forth at the beginning of the film end up taking a back seat to the horrible cat and mouse act between Evil Copley and Boring Damon. You don't need to see this film.

1 out of 5 stars
Elysium (2013)
Reviewed by The Bitter Critic on Aug 09 2013
Rating: 1

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