Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Gritty Sci Fi, Elysium

If you liked the gritty vision of District 9, you will love the look of Elysium.  The movie is pretty straight forward.  Welcome to the two worlds of Elysium and Earth.  Earth, having become over-populated and pollution ridden, has become the home of the vast majority of humans.  The wealthy, or I guess what we would now call the one percenters, have moved off-world.

Director/writer Neill Blomkamp continues his theme of the mistreatment of less fortunate with a very thinly veiled theme about immigration and extreme points of view.  Elysium has it all and not just the wealth and good food and clean water, but it also has astounding medical technology that can cure anything except death. Cancer, radiation poisoning, severe bodily damage, broken bones -- anything can be cured.  On Earth, hospitals are over-crowded, in short supply of even basic medicine and those with more serious disease must simply wait for death unless they can get a "ticket" to Elysium.  Tickets are the illegal means used by the poor to cross the barrier of space in an attempt to at least get the medical wonders of Elysium.  In other words, they seek a better life.

The "world" of Elysium speaks two languages, well-spoken English and French.  They are the beautiful people with pristine bodies.  On Earth, they speak a conglomeration of languages but the primary two seems to be Spanish and vulgar English.  A warning is in order, the English of Earth is loaded with expletives.  They are also often damaged and heavily tattooed. The one exception seems to be the bad guy, Kruger, who speaks Earth English and, I would guess, South African slang and dialect.  I guess this primarily because the actor, Sharlto Copley is from there.

Elysium is where the estates and government reside.  It is controlled by a President and governing council that are apparently established through computer programs.  They also have a minister of defense whose job is to secure the borders.  She believes this should be done by any means which includes killing.  It will protect her children and keep the poor from "showing up at her door."  Minister Delacourt, is played with her usual clean acting by Jodie Foster.

On Earth we meet Max.  Max is played by Matt Damon.  Max is an orphan and paroled car thief.  We are told early on that he has a destiny.  Max is accidentally irradiated and has five days to live.  If he is to survive, he has to get a "ticket" to Elysium.  If you are expecting from the pictures of Damon in the exo-suit to be some super soldier, you  would be wrong.  I cannot explain further without too many spoilers, so I won't.  Damon does a fine job as his less-than-Bourne action hero as he struggles to get to Elysium and save himself and loved ones.

Add to this mix is the thugs or those special citizens of Elysium who do the dirty work for the wealthy.  Kruger, Sharlto Copley, is the psychopathic enforcer barely controlled by Minister Delacourt.  You may remember Copley from District 9.  He is barely recognizable as the everyman hero from that movie as the baddie in Elysium.  Kruger, who lives on Earth but is a citizen of Elysium  is the guy along with his small group of "soldiers" whose job is to enforce the protection of Elysium's borders and do the necessary dirty work for the government.  These special operatives have, of course, been disavowed by the more liberal members of the governing council.  Still Krueger is the basic villain.

Elysium is violent and visually gruesome, and its expletives easily earn its R rating.  Is it as good as Blomkamp's freshmen movie of District 9?  No.  It is fairly predictable, but it holds the attention and is well acted.  It is also not shot in or converted to fad 3D.  Frankly, for most live action movies, 3D is a waste of money.  Its visual look and character stories, although a bit unoriginal, is what makes the movie work.  Its predictable plot, which does have a few twists we don't see coming, is its major drawback.  Overall, though it is a decent flick. I will most likely buy the DVD when the price drops.