Movie Review: Elysium

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 1/5 stars

Science fiction in the wrong hands is a dangerous weapon.

“Elysium” tells the story of Max (Matt Damon), a man with a checkered criminal past who is trying to make things right.  He has traded in his car thieving ways for a job with a legitimate company.  He is one of the few Earthlings who has a job.  The rest live in squalor and do everything they can to eke out a living.  The uber-wealthy live on an orbital space station in obnoxious luxury.  The two worlds will obviously collide in Matt Damonish style.

“Elysium” is to the Gilded Age what “District 9” was to Apartheid.  That they were both written by the same author, Neil Blomkamp, is obvious.  They are practically the same movie.  You have a person somewhat on the inside of a horrible system.  You have the person being betrayed by the system.  You have the person undergoing a transformation.  You have the person fighting to make things right.  “District 9” was a far superior undertaking, though.

All the complaints that I had with “District 9” were present in “Elysium” only supersized.  You start out with a pretty interesting social justice premise and then you go off the rails with a convoluted action movie.  “District 9” worked despite its faults because the premise was believable and the main character was sympathetic.  “Elysium” is the opposite.  Max is kind of an ass, he is surrounded by friends that are kind of asses, and the super rich are complete douches.

To add to the general trashiness of the movie, you have the same tired “save the girl” trope.  This time, it’s supersizes just like everything else.  So you have the “save the girl and the girl’s girl” trope.  Ugh.  This is the kind of trashy one-dimensional sympathy card that gets played when you really don’t have any ideas.

And the technology!  Don’t even get me started on the technology!  Instead of Elysium being a pin prick in the sky, it’s the size of the moon.  That would mean that it was either enormous beyond comprehension or that it was stationed in the Earth’s atmosphere.  Given the closer shots of Elysium, it is not that big so it must be in the Earth’s atmosphere which means it would have crashed and burned to the ground before they could even build it.  Then there’s the fact that Elysium is not enclosed and it’s atmosphere is held in by centripetal force.  So they can accomplish that but they can’t geoengineer Earth’s atmosphere to be better quality?  And the robots!  Why have human workers when you have robots that are stronger and better equipped to perform the work?  And what sense does it make to expose those robots to high levels of radiation when they are being made?

There is also a lot of pointless violence in this movie.  Some of it is kind of cool, but most is just gratuitous.  Blow one person up in a cool way, fine.  Do it a bunch more times and show some graphic results, really?  Why?

Jodie Foster is also in this movie.  She plays Dick Cheney.

This is a movie that should be skipped.  It’s a mess.  If you haven’t seen “District 9”, I’d recommend you just rent that.  Otherwise, just sit at home and read a good sci-fi book.

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