To be frank, I don’t plan on seeing Elysium a second time, or even buying the blu ray/DVD when it hits stores- not even Matt Damon can persuade me of this. That isn’t to say Elysium is a bad film, it was actually a pretty decent flick, and I don’t mind my money contributing to its revenue (I can’t say that for the third Transformers film, I’m still demanding a refund for that piece of shit).
You get a pretty good understanding of what Elysium is about when you see the preview: Earth is populated by the super poor, the space citizens of Elysium are super rich and took an ultimate “flight to the suburbs,” (a history joke for you nerds). Earth has become over populated, diseased, polluted, and lives in severe poverty; Elysium on the other hand is pretty much paradise- and straight up ripped from Gundam Wing or Halo. You’re blessed with servants, perfect health, wealth, and looking like a god damn runway model for the rest of your life. Your hero, who is actually a bit of an anti-hero, is Max (Matt Damon). Max finds himself in a spot of terrible health; a full dose of radiation will do that to you, and is on a mission to make it up to Elysium to be healed.
However, there is quiet backstory about world dynamics that does come to light during the end of Elysium. Sure, we really want to route for Max (can I just call him Matt?) the entire time, but HIS story is really the glue that binds the main plot (and solving it) together.
Let’s just think about this: We have an entire world built and thought out, and they make it very clear that the people of Earth just want to have some of the good life that is on Elysium (because those Elysium citizens are damn hoarders, like all rich people kind of are.) The film is blatantly smacking you in the face about class warfare, the mistreating of any other class other than the rich, but the film does a pretty good job of making you ignore that problem, and letting you believe that this is just the backdrop for our story. Your REAL story is about Max…kinda sorta.
As you follow Max through this post-apocalyptic world, you let the subtle genius of Elysium story telling take over. In the front of your mind, you’re only thinking about Max and his situation- as his story is being told, you’re SEEING the surrounding, and much larger, issues that all of Earth faces.
Through plenty of plot devices Max’s character becomes something more than just the guy who needs to cure himself of radiation poisoning. To put it in simple geek terms, Max is “The One,” who can free all the people of Earth from their chains of poverty, closing that undeniably large gap between citizens of Earth and Elysium.
We can’t deny the fact that Elysium is a dystopia theme film- which seems to be a very popular trend lately- we have the poor suffering for the good for a select few, that is loud and clear. Elysium is a film that alludes to our already, daily, struggles in modern society. The film is clearly warning, “if we continue down this path, things can and WILL get this bad.” Though the lesson in Elysium is loud and clear, it does a nice job of not being overly obnoxious (like Happy Feet, WTF. We went from dancing penguins to a hardcore pro-planet campaign) .It’s arguable that the Elysium does have some plot holes, but we need to keep in mind that this was a story about one particular man who was changing the fate of an entire planet. It was NOT a story about how the Earth came to where it was.
There was some direction in world building that I did not quite understand- I mean, what’s the deal with the Japanese shrubbery in a factory? Are sakura blossoms really that necessary during a final boss fight? It didn’t add to anything, besides making things look kind of pretty, but honestly it was more distracting.
The acting in the film wasn’t terrible all around. I do enjoy Matt Damon, and not only is he pretty to look at, but his acting in Elysium wasn’t too bad. Playing a sarcastic convict may not be his forte, but he does it convincingly enough.
I’ll also take a moment to defend Jodie Foster and her acting in Elysium. Many reviews say she is god awful, and while first writing this blog I had agreed. But something in my head clicked. Yes, her accent was kind of terribad, and yes her acting seem most awkward…But thinking back on it, weren’t all the citizens of Elysium the same way? Robotic like, awkward, seemingly inhuman and not much different from the droids. The people of Earth were much relatable and more real because of their hardships. Strong emotions of despair and hope make you really connect with a character. But we find it very hard, to attach to a person who has it all, and knows nothing from the school of hard knocks; furthermore the citizens of Elysium were border line Barbie dolls, they literally were plastic. Because of all the good looks, the entitlement, Elysium citizens were harder to connect with; but also culturally the people were very plastic and cookie cutter. I don’t think we can entirely blame Jodie Foster for all the bad acting in this film. I think what people are misunderstanding for bad acting, is a culture/character build we don’t find attractive; and in that sense, Jodi really pulled the role off well. Right?
Further on characters; I didn’t find the Australian government assassin to be necessary. I understand every protagonist needs its antagonist, but Jodie Foster’s character was enough bad guy that the crazy psychopath she employed just made the film feel saturated. I understand that a person of power never gets their hands dirty, and that explains the reasoning for the assassin, but honestly- this is an age of droids, couldn’t somebody just dispatch a super-secret, unmarked, batch to take care of the protagonist. Not to mention, I think that would have made Elysium more enjoyable. Watching Matt Damon rip apart more robotics would have been great.
To wrap things up, before you people start leaving this page, Elysium was a pretty good film; debatable if you want to see in the theater, or buy the DVD, but it’s worth at least one watch so you can put another notch in your moral belt.