Saw the film tonight. I gotta give points for a sci-fi movie who's art direction includes a live action re-enactment of Picasso's "Guernica" in it. (It's an aerial shot, only about three seconds, but I recognized it).
Everything visual about the movie is exceptional. Blomkamp can compose a gorgeous frame that tells the story.
The acting is good, considering the characterizations are thin and stereotypical.
The plot however has more holes than a colander.
I also didn't care for the shakeycam used in the final fight scenes... it was just a bit too much.
I would say this is a good film to Redbox or Netflix. It had a lot more potential, but couldn't find enough time to tell the stories properly. It asks you to make a lot of inferences and fill in the gaps on your own time. This is one of those stories that I think works better in book or episodic video form.
I saw Elysium a couple days ago, so here's my thoughts (straps on exoskeleton arm attachments for maximum typing speed):
-All of the future technology is awesome. I hope you like enormous guns and things that explode a lot. Also, the bad guy uses a sword. A SWORD! Now I've seen everything.
-The production design is fantastic. Same with the cinematography. I really liked how the entire movie felt like it was covered in dirt, as if all of the Earth scenes took place at the city dump.
-I think for all the holes the plot had, it still had earnest intentions. As in, it didn't feel like Hollywood schlock. It just felt like a kind of failed attempt at greatness, that's all.
-Matt Damon is good...? I thought he had the ideal look for the character (especially when he went partial robot [never go *full* robot]). Maybe it wasn't the most memorable performance in the world, but I enjoyed how the character was faced with the reality of saving Earth a bunch of times, and he still just kind of had selfish desires to save himself throughout most of it.
-Sharlto Copley's "Kruger" was the most interesting character in the movie for me. He was an awesome bad guy. I guess for all of the rich people's robots (and money to buy more robots), their best weapon was still just a crazy dude who lives on Earth. I liked how in this world that's basically a more "civilized" Mad Max fantasy, Kruger and his cronies were the only people who looked like they could have actually been in Mad Max.
-The arms dealer, Spider I think his name was, gave such a bad, over-the-top performance that I think it actually went full circle and somehow ended up being good.
-That scene where the robot cops beat up Damon and search his backpack because he looks like a criminal, even though he's just walking to work, seemed (coincidentally) perfectly relevant to the current "Stop and Frisk" debate going on in a lot of big American cities right now. Why you gotta single Matt Damon out, robot cops? Because he's basically the only white guy walking around? THE RACE TABLES HAVE TURNED.
-So was this whole movie just a metaphor for how the 1% don't like to share their stuff with the rest of us...? Seemed that way. Seemed kind of forced.
-Jodie Foster got second billing in this? She didn't exactly take up a significant amount of screen time. But I guess it's cool to see Jodie Foster in a new movie (that's not about Mel Gibson talking to a puppet).
-So a light mist spray 200 yards above the surface of Elysium is what created its atmosphere? I guess...?
-The shaky cam wasn't just bad in the fight scenes, it was super brutal in the flashback scenes with the nun, too. I remember the first shot of flashback looked like the camera was held by a guy with no fingers.
-I sort of liked the story of Damon's relationship with his childhood friend, in theory, but I don't know... Something just felt a little draggy to me.
-Elysium's security systems kind of suck.
-Why is everyone on future Earth either Hispanic or have an accent, EXCEPT Matt Damon, whose character was seemingly raised by a Spanish-speaking nun...? I guess that's a bit of Hollywood's automatic dumbing down mechanism in play.
Final Thoughts: It's been a few days since I watched Elysium, and it hasn't really stuck in my head all that much. It's not really a thinking man's movie, but it kind of falls under that guise. It also doesn't have the lasting emotional sting that District 9 had. What it does have is a lot of small, really awesome moments that I remember with the glee of a 10-year-old. "REMEMBER THAT PART WHEN MATT DAMON SHOT THE ROBOT AND IT SHATTERED INTO A MILLION PIECES????? THAT WAS AWESOME!!!" or "REMEMBER THAT PART WHEN THE GUY HAD HIS FACE BLOWN OFF WITH A GRENADE???? THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!" It's like a highlight reel of cool five-second juvenile moments. Yet when they're all strung together, it's pretty entertaining. Or at least it's highly watchable. BUT IT'S NO DISTRICT 9.
7.5 out of 10
They recreated effing Guernica, live, for a 3- second, throw-away shot. That is AMBITION.
These settings would have made for an epic cable TV mini-series. The film run time makes you compress character development and plot a lot. Still, some great movies are able to do that, and I guess that's why they win Oscars. I had high hopes for this, but what it tells me is that Hollywood isn't yet ready to really do justice to Larry Niven's Ringworld yet. Oh, technically, heck yes. Story-wise, not a chance.