"I wonder if that was from the pastrami rueben I had yesterday?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My thoughts on Elysium

Just saw this via Netflix. This movie could have been so much more. I loved the idea of it – the ultra rich have left the planet and live on an idyllic space station while Earth is a cesspool of poverty and violence. I loved District 9 (a film by the same director), and if you haven’t seen District 9, I highly recommend that you do. Perhaps that’s my trouble. The director, Neil Blomkamp, set the bar so high with District 9 that my expectations skyrocketed for this film. My main trouble with Elysium is the portrayal of Earth as a hell hole. It just wasn’t bad enough in my eyes. Yes, there’s poverty. Yes, there’s police brutality. Yes, the system is unfair and broken in this film. But little things bothered me. Why does Matt Damon’s character look so healthy if he’s living in a third world slum? Why does he have running water in his home (that looked pretty clear) if things are really so bad here? He even has some access to health care. Maybe Damon is meant to be portrayed as one of the relatively lucky ones amid a sea of even less fortunates. But I didn’t get that vibe throughout the movie. The concept is great, but what is missing are compelling characters and a coherent story. Telling us that Max (Damon’s character) has longed to live on Ellysium his whole life is less effective development to my mind than effectively portraying how truly awful life on earth is. Could have been a good film. I think Blomkamp was befuddled by his own big budget on this one. I know District 9 was made on a relative shoestring. Not a great film, but not a horrifically bad one, either.