Elysium Screen 15 articles

Elysium

2013

Elysium Poster
  • The screenplay is doggedly uninterested in moral ambiguity, or in interrogating the actual effect of Elysium's clean air on its characters’ perspectives. Despite shoutouts to illegal immigration, economic inequality and our ever-expanding security state, Elysium remains most keen on white (if tattooed) savior iconography, weepy angel choruses, and occasionally—and pretty successfully—blowing shit up. It's a fine line (or maybe more of a laser beam) between moral courage and mere courtesy.

  • Elysium doesn't have the same brashness [as District 9]. Though the plot specifics are different, thematically it looks and feels almost like a sequel, made with a lot more money though not with more ingenuity or feeling. The Earth landscape, a wasteland of decrepit tower blocks, is more elaborate than the garbage-strewn tent cities of District 9, but also far less poetic.

  • [Elysium] wants you to be irate at such abstract injustices as social and economic inequality while perhaps not noticing that the movie itself is situated upon a version of that very imbalance. It's adventurous and aggravatingly conventional at the same time, full of both allegorical ideas about revolution and cute kids pulling at the coattails of grown men.

  • Deliberately dumb fun I could handle, but a movie that obviously conceives of itself as an analytic microscope blowing up the economic dystopia most of us live in... while failing at even being a passable action movie is effectively a disservice to the sympathetic ideology it's agitating for.

  • Elysium processes action way more smoothly than allegory, hitting its most thrilling stretches when the writer/director unleashes an inventive array of battle– tech, expertly orchestrating some crashing, smashing close–quarter combat that sees exo–suited Damon thrust into hand–to–hand combat with agile droids before taking on Copley’s kill squad.

  • Two big ideas that don't really coalesce: class segregation is a sci-fi Thing at the moment (see also In Time, Upside Down), ditto of course high-tech visions of the future (Singularity-style cerebral downloads, in this case) - and I guess the Marxist outrage behind the former is intended to rhyme with the egalitarian hope behind technophilia...

  • Even working within a more conventional framework, Blomkamp again proves to be a superb storyteller. He has a master’s sense of pacing, slowly immersing us into his future world rather than assailing us with nonstop action, and envisioning that world with an architect’s eye for the smallest details.

  • [Blomkamp's] fight scenes are exhilarating, beautifully paced, and impactful, and there are moments, visually, where one can nearly see the Alex Cox dream project lurking underneath the script's earnestly heart-on-sleeve sheen, but it all ultimately feels a bit too safe. Elysium isn't quite tough or brash enough to sell the cynicism Blomkamp pickles his story in, but his style has tightened, grown fleeter, meaner, and more direct in the wake of District 9.

  • [Blomkamp] specializes in tactile sci-fi, and as in District 9, there’s a thrillingly palpable sense that, somehow, you’re watching actual third-generation hardware being used to splatteriffic effect, instead of so many weightless 1s and Os.

  • To Blomkamp's eternal credit, Elysium's story doesn't seem nearly as convoluted when it's unfolding onscreen. Much of the film's first half has a refreshingly dense, lived-in feel, as though someone thought through some of the film's wilder conceits... Blomkamp establishes the contours of this world so firmly, alas, that you can't help but be confused by his climactic second half, which makes mincemeat of his carefully established rules as it piles on generic heroics and emotional crescendos.

  • The beginning of “Elysium” comes on like gangbusters and at first it’s fun to be swept up in a movie like this, riding shotgun with the swooping camera moves and feeling the dread creep in with each of the score’s brassy blares... As the weapons start firing and the blood begins running, it’s hard not to wonder, though, if it’s Blomkamp who couldn’t find a genuinely fresh exit strategy or whether, as this summer’s screen conflagrations suggest, it’s the big studios that have given up on Utopia.

  • By the third act, I’m sorry to report, you can feel the studio dollars directing the film, and the whole thing degenerates into the utterly generic chase-and-shoot conclusion that audiences are believed to want... But even with that major caveat, “Elysium” is a highlight of the summer, and makes clear that Blomkamp is a genuine visionary who’s trying to push the envelope of possibility in mainstream popcorn cinema.

  • Drawing on an international cast, "Elysium" is rich with topical allusions. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp's "District 9" (2009) was a naked Apartheid allegory, and there's a continuation of that thread here... "Elysium" also nods to the healthcare fight and the growing income gap, so it's a disappointment that the film ultimately doesn't have much cogent to say—beyond having a child make the observation that helping people is a good way to make friends.

  • The visual style evokes numerous bone-crushing blockbusters of recent years (Black Hawk Down in particular), but part of what makes this so invigorating is the way it turns the genre on its head, critiquing military might and voicing sympathy for the disenfranchised.

  • Technical mistakes or shortcomings add to the feel of this being a film made for the people from the bottom up, even with the millions of dollars behind its every shot. There's something much more majestic about the sweeping, impressive shots of outer space habitats coming from the mind of a young South African.

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