Movie Review: Elysium

I saw the film in IMAX and can say the filming was excellent. What a look. What clarity. It's a movie which visually pops out at you. Okay, those opening comments may make you suspicious. Old joke: What do you say to a person who has nothing redeeming about them? Answer: Nice suit. But seriously, this is a good film. Not a great film, but a good one.

Star wise, we have Matt Damon in the central role. Others of note are Jodie Foster (long time no see) and William Fichtner but oddly enough, I didn't recognise anybody else. I guess I'm not going to the movies often enough.

But the big item of note here is Neill Blomkamp taking the double duty of director and screenwriter. If the name is unfamiliar, he was the director and author of the 2009 movie District 9. As I repeat ad infinitum (ad nauseum?), a good film requires a good story and without a good story, no star power or special effects will give you a good film. Other reviewers portray Elysium as a bit of a let-down after District 9, that film having received a rating of 90%. Okay, the 66% of Elysium means we can't always knock it out of the park but Elysium is a good film.

In a nutshell, this science fiction story takes place in 2154. The Earth has become overpopulated and ruined while the super-rich live on a space station in the lap of luxury. Our hero, who gets a lethal dose of radiation, seeks to get to that station, Elysium, to get special medical treatment to save himself. Yes, there are other plot details and some reviewers expound on spoiling the entire movie, but that's it in a nutshell, you don't need to know more. As I said, it was well filmed and the special effects are quite good. I am still surprised sometimes at how a movie set can look so real. Of course, it is almost impossible these days to distinguish between what may be real, as in a set, and what may be special effects superimposed over real things.

I noticed the budget was estimated at $98 million. What? Iron Man 3: $200 million. Man of Steel: $225 million. Pacific Rim: $190 million. How the heck did they manage to make this film for half the amount of these other films? The word blockbuster now seems to equate to at least over a hundred million dollars and I'm sure that is a lot riding on a studio. Make it or break it. We make think of movies as some form of art but at the end of the day, it's a business and one does have to make a profit to survive.

 

Final Word
I enjoyed the movie and thought it was quite visually spectacular in IMAX. The story is good and for the adrenaline junkies, there are some good action sequences. I would rate this film as worth forking over the money to see it on the big screen but once again, choose IMAX if you can. Don't forget, this is science fiction – a warning if you're not partial to the genre – but the film overall is good.

References

Rotten Tomatoes: Elysium: 66%
After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy.

Wikipedia: Elysium (film)
Elysium is an American science fiction action film written, co-produced and directed by Neill Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.[3] It was released on August 9, 2013 in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters.

 
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