This movie is amazingly and awesomely fantastic. It couldn’t be better if it lactated single malt whisky and handed out free blankets and sandwiches to homeless orphans. It is incredibly well directed, written, acted, imaginative, original, and blah-blah-blah, fucking awesome!
Neill Blomkamp became a thing in 2009 with the release of District 9, an innovative and grim alien film with strong Apartheid-references and the best Science Fiction film of the millennium so far. Elysium is similar in many ways, and mostly in good ways. The writing and characterization are still strong, the level of credible and innovative Science Fiction, visceral violence and unusual, shaky, handheld camera-work are all in place, and work very well in establishing a personal feel to the film.
Elysium is not quite a perfect ten like District 9, as it suffers from some minor problems – oh by the way, here begin serious spoilers that will ruin the entire experience for you – such as how easily power on a super-advanced, extremely well guarded space habitat can be assumed by a very small group of ruthless psychopaths, either by heavily armed grunts or well-dressed political and corporate aristocrats. Or, by how the most extreme class segregation metaphor can be dismantled by changing a single value in a bit of code. Or why the inhabitants of Elysium are the biggest exclusionist dicks for reasons which are never clearly addressed.
Another issue, that is not really an issue, but is still worth bitching about, is Neill Blomkamp’s social commentary. District 9 was least to say less-than-subtle in its Apartheid commentary, and the overblown segregation between the inhabitants of Elysium – predominantly white, English and French speaking middle-classes, who have machines that can heal everything from sniffles to leukemia and missing face syndrome in every house – and Earth – who are predominantly black or Latino, living in Spanish speaking polluted ghettos, where crime is ripe and only jobs available include hazardous factory work with zero worker-rights – continue the tradition admirably. Elysium is definitely a place to be, but unfortunately only the rich and powerful are welcome, and attempting to land illegally is a popular past-time. Unfortunately Elysium’s officials, lead by a fanatical Jodie Foster, would rather have the immigrant shuttles shot down, than have all the dirty poor people running around. I wonder what this set-up could represent.
Sharlto Kopley and his outrageous South-African accent do wonderful work again as the incredibly evil Kruger, and his character is almost unrecognizable from the wimpy Vikus of District 9. Rest of the acting cast does an equally good job, and the film feels like a much bigger production than it really is, with only three A-list actors.
This film provides an excellent framework with good world-building and social commentary, but what really drives the S.S. Awesome is the action. There’s lots of it, and it’s pretty damn sweet. The hand-held cameras, visual style and brutal details really separate Elysium from the standard action, in that it is brought much closer to real world, and the actions of the characters have far more impact than the usual action film allows.
Even considering the excellent writing and directing, amazing exosuits, weapons, droids, visceral action with visceral consequences, amazing narrative flow and great overall film – Blomkamp’s most amazing achievement is taking Matt Damon and turning him into something approaching likeable.
Again, great film and easily the best film out this summer. Despite minor issues this film should easily score 9.5/10, as all the areas that work extremely well easily make up for any small problems. We can only hope this will do as well in the box office as it should, despite being pushed out the same weekend as some sub-mediocre, idiotic Jennifer Aniston light comedy that is sure to suck out the casual movie-goers money right out of their wallets. In which case they probably shouldn’t have financial independence and should be separated from their hard-earned money as soon as possible in any case.