Sci Fi is a tool used more to talk about the world we live in, rather than the images on the screen. In most cases these films don’t due well with audiences due their lack of fast pace story mechanics.
So what we get in most cases are films that have sci fi elements but mostly end up being large action films.
Very few films end up really bridging the gap between the two different film genres but Elysium puts up a good effort.
Elysium is the newest film from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp a South African director currently working out of Vancouver.
The film stars Matt Damon as Max, a lowly worker in 2154 LA. While Max has a criminal record he’s trying to clean up his act by working on an assembly that manufactures the same androids that arrested him.
Max was seemingly driven into a life of crime due to harsh realities of living on earth. Around the late 21 century the population of the planet became too large to sustain itself, so the rich built a large colony, called Elysium, outside the rotation of earth.
As the years drag on the people of earth start to dream of the better lives that could be ahead of them if the can buy a ticket to Elysium
However, some aren’t interested in buying their way on the colony legally and soon pirates try to smuggle people onto the colony. They don’t make it far as the colonies’ defense minister (Jodie Foster) destroys transports that try and land on the colongy.
Over the course of the film Max must try to get to the colony after he is exposed to radiation at his job. Only Elysium has the medical technology to save him.
To do so he must kidnap an employee of at the android manufacturing company for a local smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura).
Along the way the defense minster ends up deploying a black ops team lead by Kruger (Sharlto Copely) to find Max and get the information he finds.
At first glance Elysium seems like it’s a no brainer, as it features an easy to understand story, action and a cast recognizable actors. However, it becomes clear that all of the characters are paper-thin.
While Damon ends up putting in a solid performance, Foster doesn’t end up doing the same.
Foster, seemingly after attending a Al Pacino acting master class, ends up chew so much scenery that her character ends up seeming forced.
In addition to the acting comes another pet peeve to many film fans, shaky cam.
The film doesn’t feature a lot of action but when it does the scenes are hard to follow. Aside from a few slow down spots the fights more or less come down to two people punching each other in front of a shaking camera.
However, the world of Elysium, other rather it’s version of earth ends up being the films main asset.
Blomkamp ends up doing something few thought could be done by making his futuristic LA look scarier than Blade Runners vision. The city has now turned into a desert like landscape with little that resembles the once booming city.
Much like Blade Runner, attention to detail was even given to the language used by the characters. In LA the common language is either English or Spanish (which makes sense due it’s location) and on the colony the common language is seemingly French (which as we all know automatically makes them all evil).
It’s little touches like this that help make the world more realistic, it’s a bit subtle but it makes directors like Blomkamp stand out.
Elysium ends up having a setting that’s more interesting than the characters we’re following. While Matt Damon gives a solid performance the rest of the cast end up playing stereotypical characters that range from one note to hilariously over the top.
Despite the complaints Elysium isn’t a bad film. The setting is interesting and the plot is fairly fast paced. It’s one of the few films this year that isn’t attached to a franchise and this type of thing should be encouraged.
Elysium was written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. The film is distributed by TriStar Pictures.