Elysium: Blu Ray Review
Released by Sony Home Entertainment
The director of District 9 returns with yet another sci-fi outing. In the year 2154. the Earth has become over-populated and over-polluted leading to the rich upping and leaving the planet to inhabit a floating space station called Elysium where everything is perfect - and where those who can afford it can be healed of any condition or problem. But back down on the surface, the have nots are struggling to get by, spilling out of slums and slaving for what little they can find.
Matt Damon is Max, who's always wanted to be among the stars and who's sickened by the class system which has developed on the Earth. He works on a production line in a factory, building the robots who police the world and who, ironically, suspect him of wrong-doing simply because he has a criminal record. When he's given an overdose of radiation at work, he believes he has nothing left to lose - and sets Elysium in his sights. But, in order to secure a ticket and transport to the space station, run by Defence secretary Delacourt (an icy Jodie Foster, underused, underwritten and with a truly bizarre clipped accent), he finds himself part of a mission which could bring equality to both those up there in space and down on Earth. But there are those who don't want the equilibrium damaged....
District 9 was such an incredible success that it was perhaps inevitable that anything Blomkamp followed it up with would be disappointing.
Not so with Elysium - to a degree.
Once again, his flair for stunning visuals and establishing shots is there right from the beginning; as with District 9 and its spaceship hanging in the sky, Blomkamp brilliantly sets the scene of the ravaged Earth and creates the world within the space of a few minutes.But despite Elysium being a gritty, dystopian piece of sci-fi, it proffers up a bitterly sweet sentimental ending that seems unnecessary.
Flashbacks back to Max's childhood and friendship with Alice Braga's Frey swoop in and out maybe a few times too often and the end reminiscence certainly is unwarranted. It's Blomkamp overegging the pudding in attempt to ground his protagonists with sentimental motivation.
That said, Damon is pretty good as the man with nothing left to lose and everything to gain as he plies his everyman persona to a slowly dying Max.But it's Copley who once again shines - this time playing bad ass mercenary and rogue agent Kruger, who's sent to deal with Max. There's a cruel streak to him which is uncomfortable to watch in places - I wouldn't be surprised if he gets offered a few more roles as the bad guy now.
FX wise and on the technology front, Blomkamp has created a world which is utterly plausible and totally impressive - he really has grounded the scifi look in a reality which seems just over the horizon and then dirtied it up a little to take the sheen off it. With props created by Weta Workshop and including Weta crew Joe Dunckley and Tim Tozer, we've got something to shout about.
The social message is clear for all to see and while the action scenes are sparse and brutal (aside from a final showdown between Max and Kruger which is all Hollywood bluster as they go head to head in exosuits in something akin to Rock Em Sock Em Robots ) Blomkamp has not lost sight of the thrust of his film despite the bluster and slightly out of place ending.
It was always going to be impossible to reach the heights of District 9 and by over-sentimentalising towards the end as he attempts to humanise the protagonists, Blomkamp's actually detracted from what the film sets out to do. That said, it's still a superior slice of sci-fi and a film which is well worth watching, from a director who's pretty quickly raising the bar for the genre.