Elysium Film Review
Directed & Written by: Neill Blomkamp (The District 9 guy).
Review by Franco Romualdez
It’s time for a Revolution!
Elysium has given Sci-Fi its balls back. In my opinion, director Neill Blomkamp has equaled, if not nearly reached, what he achieved with District 9. Elysium is a good film on the surface, but it becomes a great film when you really dig into the message Blomkamp intended to communicate. The film is a perfect example of how to reveal truth through fiction, and how to mask real world injustices with not-so-obvious references. In my review, I will cover both the engaging and entertaining aspects of the film, as well as the relevant and important message it imparts on its viewers.
The futuristic Los Angeles that serves as the setting for Elysium is unique to modern Sci-Fi because of how hauntingly real it looks. Being from the Philippines, I am all too familiar with what severe and rampant poverty looks like, and Elysium displays a near-future rendition of it perfectly. The film’s plot revolves around the contrast between the perfect and seemingly immortal lives of the people who live on Elysium (An orbital paradise above Earth), versus the dystopian existence of the people who are forced to live on the Earth’s surface. The movie’s protagonist Max Da Costa, as portrayed by Matt Damon, is the typical slum-dog with a record that’s just trying to get his life back together. The film’s plot puts him in a precarious position that gives him no choice but to try to get to Elysium. Through unlikely circumstance, he soon finds himself in a situation that will forever change the future of Elysium-Earth relations. Too vague? Doesn’t sound too exciting? That’s because I left out a TON of plot elements, because I want you to go see this film without any real knowledge or preconceptions of its plot. Trust me, you’ll thank me after!
The acting in the film is top class. With Jodie Foster delivering her usual serving of brilliance, and Matt Damon never giving off a “Jason Bourne” vibe all throughout. However the most compelling performance was given by returning District 9 lead Sharlto Copley, who steals the show as the intimidating Kruger, a hired mercenary who’s not very right in the head. Everything that went into establishing film’s setting is unbelievably well done; from the futuristic weaponry, to the Eco-friendly Elysium offices, you’ll never think that there is something that wasn’t meant to be on each and every frame. The Cinematography is fantastic, making the film a visually stunning experience. Elysium is actually worth watching just for the final fight scene alone, as a matter of fact.
All that being said, the real brilliance of Elysium lies in the relevant and important message it conveys. As the film’s director Neill Blomkamp said:
- “No, no, no. This isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now.” -
One of the reoccurring plot devices in the film is the Med Chamber. These Medical Chambers are a staple in every Elysian home, and they seemingly magically remove any and all disease in a matter of seconds. These Med Chambers are only available on Elysium; the people living on Earth are deprived of their use, forcing them to rely on traditional medicine. It’s never said directly in the film, but it’s obvious that the reason the magical Med Chambers aren’t being used on Earth is to control the population of the poverty stricken surface dwellers. Throughout the film, people are seen desperately wanting to go to Elysium, but what’s interesting is the manner in which the people are portrayed. None of them want to go to Elysium to live a life of luxury, and none of them seek to kill Elysium’s inhabitants; no, all these people want to do is to use the freaking Med Chambers. And what’s crazy is that the Elysians know this, and yet they do everything in their power to stop non-Elysians from using Med Chambers. Do you understand the message that Blomkamp was trying to convey now? He uses Elysium to make aware the injustices brought about by privatized Medicine. He reveals though stark comparison, how in present society, the privileged are allowed to be “immortal” while Hospitals refuse to give treatment to those who cannot afford it. A magical one-stop Med Chamber is obviously a medical impossibly (To my knowledge), yet it is placed in a film that contains an enormous amount of feasible future tech. This is done for a reason; think about it.
Elysium is both relevant, and entertaining. It tells a good story while conveying a powerful message. This isn’t the original, risk-taking classic that was District 9. This is a film that is meant to stand on its own. A refreshing reminder of the power of science fiction, Elysium is simply a must see.
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