Why are there so many apocalyptic themed movies in 2013? The Mayans screwed up! Needless to say, we’ve seen a wide variety of these movies this year. There have been generic films like Oblivion and After Earth, funny spoofs on an apocalypse like Warm Bodies and This Is the End, and movies like The Smurfs 2 where we simply question our humanity. Coming off of his success from District 9, can Neil Blomkamp continue to impress his audiences, or does his newest film make me wish the apocalypse came sooner?
The story takes place in the future. Earth has become overpopulated and ruined. However, the wealthy get to live on an advanced space station called Elysium, a flawless paradise that has no poverty and more importantly, no disease. Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car burglar, has longed to be on Elysium since he was a child. He works at a robot manufacturing facility, but is exposed to lethal radiation and only has a few days to live. He is forced to the level of crime, and ends up hijacking data from the CEO of the robot company where he previously worked.
The data Max steals ends up being more vital than he thought. It holds the key to controlling Elysium, because the Secretary of Defense was trying to reboot the system to make herself become president. Max needs to get to Elysium and cure himself and the daughter of his childhood friend before it’s too late, but he has a rogue agent after him and his brain.
The plot and setting aren’t too original. If you’ve seen films like The Island, Wall-E, and Oblivion, then you know what you’re getting yourself into. It even borrows a lot of elements from District 9 such as a rejected population, futuristic technology, and a protagonist slowly suffering from something. It does have a few unique elements like the agent’s role and some cool futuristic inventions, but not enough for me to consider it fresh. There have been plenty of movies where the poor and diseased are rejected in a utopian society.
Matt Damon did a decent job as usual. I liked how his acting shifted when his character realized the situation he was in. The villains played by Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley seemed a bit over-the-top for my taste. Foster is the strict government official while Copley is the psychotic killer, their acting didn’t really make the characters interesting. However, based on how Foster acted here, less is more.
The movie had a lot of interesting imagery and took advantage of being a R-rated movie. They came up with creative ways to kill the characters. Other than the robots in the beginning, it isn’t overblown with C.G.I. creatures.
I know I haven’t said too many nice things in this review, but Elysium is a good popcorn flick. It may not be District 9 quality, but there are some interesting plot developments points, decent acting from Matt Damon, and some great special effects and unique ways to kill off enemies. Unfortunately, a formulaic plot, over-the-top acting, and shaky camera work prevent it from getting a higher rating.