Valdosta Daily Times

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August 16, 2013

‘Elysium’ is a nice place to visit but ...

VALDOSTA — “Elysium” (Science-Fiction/Action: 1 hour, 49 minutes)

Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Diego Luna, Sharlto Copley and Wagner Moura

Director: Neill Blomkamp

Rated: PG-13 (Violence, strong language, gore and sexual innuendo)

Movie Review: Director Neill Blomkamp directed 2009’s “District 9" - neat science fiction with plenty of intellect attached. “Elysium” is also semi-intellectual, but it borders on being an action flick as much as it is an idealistic, philosophical piece. It combines the two to be entertaining enough to make it enjoyable.   

The year is 2154. Earth is overpopulated, polluted and has robots acting as law enforcement. The poor live on Earth’s shabby surface, but the wealthy are on Elysium, an orbital space station where medical technology is superior and life is good.

Max DaCosta (Damon) is dying. An accident at work exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation. He needs to make it to Elysium to eradicate the radiation and heal his body. Enter Spider (Wagner Moura), a techno-savvy syndicate leader in Los Angeles. Spider offers DaCosta a means to make it to Elysium. The catch is DaCosta has cybernetic parts added to his body, so he may connect to Elysium’s computer. DaCosta’s mission is a dangerous one, considering Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Foster) has sent agents led by Kruger (Sharlto) to terminate DaCosta and his allies.

This film adds much about the classism, the prejudices along the rich–poor divide, which exists in the world today. Because of this, “Elysium” attempts to be a thought-provoking, nice tale regarding the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The movie could have scored more points here. It does not.

The film only shows a few reasons for why life is better on Elysium. The film shows politicians and government officials living the good life on a plush space station are just as shady as government officials elsewhere. The government is catering to the rich. The problem is that how the rich are living barely registers other than a medical bed that heals the body in minutes. This wealthy world appears merely as a side note. Regarding this, “Elysium” appears as pretentious as its futuristic space station.

Otherwise, the plot focuses on the horrible life of people on Earth, but it does not give you a chance to relate because action sequences quickly become the norm. This is a shame because this film has plenty to offer mentally. Instead, it turns into an action film. It is more of a prevailing blockbuster pleasure than the intellectual screenplay it could be.

However, this does not hurt the film. “Elysium” delivers plenty worth observing. Damon, Foster, Luna and Moura are enjoyable players. Damon especially carries the film as its luckless protagonist.

While the screenplay diminishes the underlying themes of deferential treatment based on social class, the cast, the story and the visual effects of this possible future create a gratifying photoplay.        

Grade: B- (A nice place to visit, despite its watered-down nature.)

 

“Planes” (Animation/Adventure: 1 hour, 31 minutes)

Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach and Brad Garrett

Director: Klay Hall

Rated: PG (Some mild action and rude humor)

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