Release date: August 7, 2013
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay by: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, Diego Luna, William Fichtner

I was very surprised that District 9 became one of my favorite films of 2009 [1] because before it, I wouldn’t have given much consideration to sci-fi as a genre. This is one of the main reason why I had set my eyes on Elysium, I wanted it to blow me away. It’s partly my own fault because I was all giddy to see Jodie Foster, and was all pumped after watching and re-watching Wagner Moura on Elite Squad [1][2].

Like Blomkamp’s previous, Elysium paints our dystopian world in the year 2154 — obviously overpopulated while the rich 1% are able to live in a massive pristine habitable space station known as Elysium where life is pretty perfect, at the expense of the rest who still live in Earth ridden with diseases, poverty and the whole shebang. The city of Los Angeles seems to be full of Latin Americans who live stacked in cities that resemble some of our newly urbanized shanty towns.

Max Da Costa (Damon) is an orphan (when played by Damon-and-Leo-D-look-alike Maxwell Perry Cotton anyway) who grows up to be a problem youth as he dreams to one day be able to live in Elysium alongside his best girl pal Frey (later played by Braga). As time sets these friends apart and Max settles in a 9-to-5 job at a factory where his life is later threaten, he finds himself between life and death… and a coup d’état that will compromise the destiny of Elysium and all the inhabitants of Earth.

I love Matt Damon, I do. I love that he speaks a bit of Spanish (wise-cracking one-liners and all) in dystopian-L.A., but I can’t help shake the fact that the role of Max Da Costa feels better suited for a Latino. I can’t help shake the fact that my mind would have liked Wagner Moura in the role instead of Damon… but things are as they are. Acting-wise, the film seems fine especially with Sharlto Copley who seems to have had a lot of fun with the role because there’s all there was with these characters. I didn’t feel anything for them — nor Foster’s, Braga’s or Luna’s characters — and I just keep getting mad at myself thinking about them. Whereas you’ll have all these encountered feelings watching District 9, you’ll find that Elysium draws the line very firmly to tell us who are the good guys and who are the bad ones — the only one who seems to be a bit gray on the dark side is Foster as Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt, her power suit, her French and her Machiavellian intentions to take over the government, but all of that becomes nothing. This I would forgive in a mindless action flick, but not one posing as social-commentary.

The visual effects are good, though I’ll put the cheese that was Oblivion ahead of this by a thread. I do think that the overuse of shaky-cam this time around became a disservice visually since it had little to no reason to be that way, unlike D9, and actually made me dizzy from the get go.

Overall, though, Elysium is far from the worst film of the year… but could possibly turn into the biggest disappointment.

Rating: ★★★¼☆ 


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

11 Responses

  1. Rodrigo says:

    “I can’t help shake the fact that my mind would have liked Wagner Moura in the role instead of Damon… but things are as they are.”

    Actually, I’d keep Moura as Spider and either:
    a) Max starts as a Mexican character. Swap Damon (the draw) and Blomkamp with Gael García Bernal and Cuarón (new draw).
    b) Rewrite Max’s origins as if he was American (Damon and Blomkamp stay) to prevent adult Max feeling less awkward.

    I enjoyed the film for what it was, though the ending could have been done better.

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, you only get to keep director or actor because Blomkamp wrote this. But I’d rather see Cuaron working on Gravity LOL And I can’t see Gael doing the action scenes in the movie. I’d switch Gael as Spider and put Moura in the action scenes.

      But it’s a normal feeling, isn’t? That Max wasn’t supposed to be white. I know that he could be a white latino, but I doubt he’d be the whitest latino in the city, even if Luna himself is pretty white. xD Also, did you sense Damon’s slight Argentinean accent? xD Or was it me?

      • Rodrigo says:

        @amy, I was swapping Blomkamp with Cuarón since Elysium screamed Mexico vs USA in metaphors. Cuarón would have made this more exciting and pull off the social message better.

        I noticed the Argentinean accent a little bit. I also thought of swapping Damon with Rodrigo Santoro, lol. And for Brazilian casting purposes, Leandro Firmino as Kruger instead of Copley (the MVP of Elysium).

  2. Yeah, the movie wasn’t bad-bad, and parts like the sort of humorous interactions with robot parole/cops and Kruger’s scary lullaby were strong. Still disappointing, especially since aspects of the future world weren’t fully thought out. While I liked Matt Damon (I guess his wife passed some of her Argentine accent to him?), I would have definitely preferred seeing Luna’s, Moura’s, or Alice Braga’s character in the exoskeleton hero role. and less/no flashbacks! (although the kid who played young Max really looked like a young Matt Damon)

    • amy says:

      @Diandra Rodriguez, Oh, you make an excellent point. I know Braga isn’t a Matt Damon pull, but DUDE! She’d be perfect in the lead, and it all could’ve been done for her daughter.

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