Combustible Celluloid
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With: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir, Adrian Holmes, Jared Keeso
Written by: Neill Blomkamp
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Running Time: 109
Date: 08/08/2013

Elysium (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)

The Have-Nots

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This type of "haves vs. have-nots" story has been done many times in sci-fi, ranging from the terrific Metropolis and Gattaca, to the dreadful Upside Down. Elysium is not one of the better ones.

In the year 2154, overpopulation and other problems have forced the wealthy to flee to a space station, called "Elysium," filled with fresh air, sculpted lawns, swimming pools, and champagne. They also have "med bays," that can heal any human illness. However, the poor on earth have no such care and can never afford the trip. Illegal flights there are instantly shot down. After a radiation accident on his job, Max (Matt Damon) is determined to get there to heal himself. So, in exchange for a ticket Max agrees to a dangerous job, and winds up with information that could change the entire structure of Elysium. Unfortunately, his childhood love (Alice Braga) and her sick daughter are also in need of help. Can Max save the day?

The movie starts out with awe-inspiring footage of Elysium, making it look almost like a man-made heaven. However, director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is fond of "realism," which in this case, means a grimy look with lots of shaking cameras and blurry, jerky footage.

Blomkamp tells his story with a heavy hand, concentrating more on messages than on storytelling or on emotional connections with the characters. He's so focused on issues of tolerance, health care, and race and class discrimination that he often forgets about simple logic. Many scenes and many character motivations simply do not make sense. As a result, actors like Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, and Diego Luna mostly look lost. For a movie about important issues, Elysium is, finally, not very smart.

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