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Elysium

Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Director: Neill Blomkamp


I didn't know much about Elysium, except that it starred Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and it had an interesting premise. Space worlds are done rather creatively, conjuring one concept to another and trying to show off these worlds in different light. However, I think I was expecting something else when it came to the output. It did not lack when it came to action sequences or the effects, but I guess I was expecting something better, something mind-blowing, at most. Maybe it's because I came from a long seminar-type class, and wasn't feeling comfortable with my movie seat (it reclines deeper than usual reclining theater seats) that I wasn't able to fully comprehend and appreciate the flick. Nonetheless I was still excited to see it, but it left me drained and somehow unsatisfied with the final product. Somehow I expected something more, but it simply did not meet my expectation.

There are two sides to Elysium's story, one of Damon's, and the other one of Foster's. It's set in the late 21st century, when earth was ravished with poverty, leaving the well-off to establish a new living in space, in a space capsule called Elysium. The main asset of Elysium isn't the posh living, or the fancy food, or the fact that everything is clean and ran by machines. It's having a specialized health unit that immediately makes any disease/virus/mutation disappear. Shuttles from earth have been illegally transporting people to Elysium but to no avail, thanks to Secretary Delacourt. Max is a factory worker who always had the dream to go to Elysium. He was a criminal on the side and was known for stealing. On an unfaithful event in the factory, Max got exposed to huge amounts of radiation, rendering his death in 5 days. In order to survive, he needed to get to one of the health units in Elysium, thus recruiting the help of Spider, whose been the leader of illegal transportation to Elysium. He grants the request under one condition, that they hack into John Carlyle and steal passwords and informations that would get the millions. Instead, Max manages to download a code that is crucial for Delacourt's career, a code that can change the course of history. 

Despite Matt Damon and Jodie Foster being the leads, they didn't have any scenes together, nor did they contact each other in any means. Because of this, the production gets to focus on depicting the difference between life on earth and in Elysium. Matt Damon gave a mediocre performance as Max, as his character wasn't given much to work with. He was a simple man who just wanted to save himself because of a company screw-up. Even his supposed tender, vulnerable moments feel so half-hearted that I have to wonder if Damon's mind was on the role. Jodie Foster, on the other hand, started out strong, but there was a total switch of character without any reason. It was out of character that I had to question her motives. Was it because she detests people on Earth too much, or her pride was hurt, or she just simply wanted to give up? Giving up was a sign of weakness to her character, and I can't believe she would just succumb to that. 

It certainly did not skip out on the set, as the visuals were great. It fitted the whole society that it was going for. Based on the color palette used, there was a clear distinction of what society fit where. Earth's colors were mostly sandy and brown, and even the solid colors looked faded, just like the society it tries to portray. Elysium on the other hand was rich in color, and everything looked clean and sharp on screen. The cinematography also contributed to how different the worlds are. Back on Earth, movements were choppy; it used different styles, from the shifting to looking at it from Spider's point.  In Elysium, every movement was sharp and still. Contrasting, and complimentary. The effects were great as well. The technology they used are very state of the art, particularly the health unit (which is a very amazing medical feat, if such thing existed, because it could save millions of people). The writing, however, was a bit weak. There wasn't much content for the characters to work on. It was able to hide between the visual presentation, but Elysium as a whole did not give much either. It was shifting from one factor to another, that while it was just one production, it felt like two, and did not give justice to either. 

Neill Blomkamp does a good job putting the production together, as it manages to depict two different worlds with people with their own motives in life. It's a great sci-fi flick with great visuals and a workable concept. While the writing did bring down the quality of the movie, the visuals and effects makes up for what it lacked. While it did not live up to my expectations, it still had factors that held the movie together.

Comments

  1. Good review. Nowhere near as good as District 9, but still a whole bunch of fun nonetheless. And tense as hell at times, too.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Still haven't seen District 9, but thinking of giving it a go.

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