Elysium: An Intelligent Summer Science Fiction Blockbuster

Elysium_PosterIt’s been 4 years since Neill Blomkamp made his feature writing and directing debut with District 9, and his follow up in both departments, Elysium was well worth the wait!

Elysium takes place in the near distant future, 2154, on an Earth that has been destroyed due to over-population. While the majority of people are stuck living a miserable existance on a planet depleted of it’s resources, the wealthy have escaped to a space-station utopia known as Elysium. On Elysium, the entire “planet” looks like an upper-class suburb, and technology exists that can cure any ailment short of death.

The movie follows Matt Damon’s character, Max, who, after being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation in the factory he works at, is given five days to live. Poor and desperate, he takes extreme measures getting a “super suit” implanted into his head and onto his body (which isn’t exactly what you’re expecting it to be) to try and take measures into his own hands and get to Elysium, where the technology exists that can save his life.

I think what I like most about this movie is that there is no “good guy.” While you clearly root for Matt Damon’s character to succeed, he is a convicted felon on parole, and his mission involves breaking the law, even though it is to save his life. In this regard, it reminds me a lot of the tv show Firefly, where the audience fell in love with a band of thieves trying to get by in a world run by an unjust government taking smuggling jobs where they could find them.

For the most part, the movie was much more of an action and a drama, with the science fiction element of it taking a back seat other than the fact that the wealthy live on another planet. The drama has to do with a love interest of Damon’s who also needs to get to Elysium for reasons I won’t mention due to it being a spoiler. While there were a handful of robots involved at times, for the most part the action sequences involved humans shooting regular guns, and good old fashion hand-to-hand combat.

Going back and watching the trailers after seeing the movie, they are a bit misleading about the plot of the movie, but that isn’t a bad thing at all. Elysium ended being a bit deeper story-wise than I was expecting, making it all the better. Neill Blomkamp succeeded on all levels with his follow up to District 9, and I look forward to seeing more work from him in the future (I hope it won’t take another 4 years either). Grades and scores for movies can be misleading, so rather than assigning Elysium one, I’ll just say go see this one in the theater! It’s a fun ride, and a richer experience than you’re probably expecting.

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