Thursday, 22 August 2013

REVIEW - ELYSIUM


Four years ago, Elysium would have been a big hit. Four years ago, District 9 was a big hit. Elysium is much the same film, only this time Neill Blomkamp is officially playing in the big leagues, and surrendering wholeheartedly to the big league rules. A tepid retread of dystopian standards prevalent in so much science-fiction of recent years, it squanders considerable talent on a run-of-the-mill storyline featuring identikit characters and bland, if meticulously-designed, visuals. A burdensome comment on conservative politics, it makes occasional moves in the direction of satire, but its narrative earnestness and creative aridity forsake it to abjection, menially according to the structure of Sci-Fi Blockbusters 101. In basic terms (for Blomkamp appears to know no others), Elysium is a big space station that's like Star-Trek-Enterprise-meets-The-O.C. Rich people live there and have access to free healthcare. They like to keep the dirty immigrants from impoverished Earth out. The Earthlings are mostly non-Caucasian, and don't wear designer outfits, so that makes them good. Matt Damon plays Max Da Costa, which means he's the macho hero. Jodie Foster plays Secretary Delacourt, which means she's a villain from Star Wars. Sharlto Copley plays Kruger, which means he's Freddy Krueger, grrr! For some objectively inconceivable reason, Matt Damon not only manages to illicitly travel to Elysium, he manages to do so while storing data in a chip attached to his brain that will allow any random computer nerd to automatically make all Earth citizens legal on Elysium, thus granting them access to this free, miraculous healthcare. I wonder how many Republicans have seen Elysium and laughed their big old heads clean off. It's that stupid. A shot near the end of African children running toward a spaceship promising them the medical help they so badly need ought to be scored to Michael Jackson's 'Heal the World.' Actually, do they rly need that help? They're sure running fast for such sick kids! Elysium opens with some lovely images of the peerless special effects employed in making this otherwise rote exercise in medium-grade action, and the film declines in quality from there. As ever, it's the silly things which piqued my interest, though, such as Matt Damon evading capture by hiding under a trailer of pigs, and all the bits with William Fichtner looking totally over it.