SPOILERS AHEAD – I know it’s not TV, but this is where my movie reviews will go.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddles masses.” Elysium is a tale of two worlds. Both of which couldn’t be any different.
The movie takes place in the mid 22nd century where the privileged rich live in a human made eutopia called Elysium, which is miles above the earth’s atmosphere, while the rest of earth’s population is left on the poor, diseased, and downtrodden planet. Elysium is a place where diseases don’t exist and anything is curable by entering a sort of healing pod. Obviously, those who are on earth yearn to become a citizen of Elysium – sometimes at any cost. Clearly taking inspiration from popular video games such as Halo and Mass Effect, the world of Elysium is a marvel to look at. Being a fan of both those games, it is easy to get excited and antsy to see such a great recreation of those worlds take shape on the big screen, even though the movie has nothing to do with either of those games.
Stuck on the planet, our protagonist Max (Matt Damon) is an ex-con on parole who is getting by in life by working on an assembly line. Though not necessarily a police state, the planet is patrolled by some scary, inhuman robots who seem to have it out for Max at the beginning of the film. You quickly learn that Max’s checkered past has made him somewhat of an infamous criminal. Eventually becoming exposed to lethal doses of radiation in an unfortunate accident, Max has only days to live. This is where things begin to ramp up. His only cure is on Elysium and he needs to get there at any cost. From here on out, we are in for quite the ride.
As bleak and chaotic as earth looks, the movie is gorgeous, especially when we get to go to Elysium. The juxtaposition of the two worlds serves the film well even if we never feel too comfortable in one. The special effects are great throughout the film and the attention to detail shines through.
Speaking of what Max is wearing, you should be familiar with the exoskeleton that he wears in the film given that it has been shown in just about every preview of the movie. While cool to look at, the exoskeleton looks pretty cheesy. And given the strength that it provides, one is left to wonder why more people don’t wear the super powered suit. One could argue that they are rare and expensive, thus not available to the poor. I’ll give you that, but given the teams in play, you would think that the suit would be more prevalent throughout the film. We do see one of the main villains of the film, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) put one on towards the end of the movie.
While broaching the subject of the antagonist, Kruger was an effective, scary villain. His presence was menacing at times, and funny at other times, and not in a good way. It might just be me, but his Aussie accent was a bit more comical at times than it should have been. Now I’m not saying that Aussie accents are funny in general, they’re not. I’m just saying that at certain moments it seemed a bit out of place and ultimately didn’t accomplish what I thought the film wanted to accomplish. Kruger was scary and he proved so with his actions. Likewise, Jodie Foster played a compelling villain herself. Cold and steadfast, her motivations were a force to be reckoned with.
Towards the end, the film began to get into “campy” territory with the whole “two super powerful humans in exoskeleton suits battle it out” moment. Which leads me to one complaint I have with a lot of action scenes in general these days: WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE A SHAKY CAMERAS IN FIGHT SCENES!!!! The camera in the final fight sequence was so shaky, it was noticeable and detached me from the film. I couldn’t tell what was happening so much so that I felt it was pointless to have it in the film. I don’t understand why this is such an industry standard. Having the camera not be 100% stable during an action scene is understandable, but when it is shaky to the point where you have no clue what is going on, it makes no sense.
It is worth noting that the film, while not a gore-fest, has its gory moments. It is not gratuitous and it makes sense in context. Just be warned that some scenes in the film may make some uneasy.
All qualms aside, the film was great. While the ending went into cliche “save the world” territory, it worked. This is a summer blockbuster sci-fi action movie to the fullest. If you are a fan of the genre, it is safe to say that you will enjoy the film. While not the smartest film out there, it is a popcorn flick. And a fun, enjoyable one at that.