'Elysium' Reviews: The Smartest Film Of The Summer
We've been waiting some time for this film. It's director Neil Blomkamp's first time back on the big screen since 2009's Oscar-nominated "District 9."
This time, Blomkamp focuses on the dichotomy between poverty-stricken inhabitants of disparate Earth and the super wealthy who live the a paradise-like world of Elysium.
Damon plays Earth-dweller Max on a mission to the mysterious world.
While it may be tough for this futuristic ride to top the Oscar film, after a short three months jam-packed with unoriginal sequels and superheroes, "Elysium" is shaping up to be one of the most satisfying flicks of the summer.
Here's what you should know before seeing it.
The film's biggest star is its visuals.
"Both the scarred Los Angeles vistas and the pristine environs of Elysium are beautifully rendered, alternately gritty and coolly slick ... Even though Blomkamp has a much bigger budget to play with here than he did on "District 9," he still uses those resources judiciously and to greater effect than helmers given oodles of cash and FX teams at their beck and call."
"As in District 9, the excellent effects and location work (Mexico City stood in for Los Angeles, while Vancouver represents aspects of Elysium) make for a vivid, convincing backdrop."
The film will be laced with plenty of world politics propaganda:
"Lest anyone miss out on Blomkamp’s thoughts on contemporary immigration and health care, “Elysium” underlines and italicizes them before going over them again in yellow highlighter."
Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are especially critical of this point.
"Easier, too, for “Elysium” to advance one of the more openly socialist political agendas of any Hollywood movie in memory, beating the drum loudly not just for universal health care, but for open borders, unconditional amnesty and the abolition of class distinctions."
"Liberals may embrace and conservatives might attack the film strictly on the reductive basis of its obvious plea for universal health car."
It's not as great as "District 9":
"Blomkamp sets several narrative pots to simmering, promising much in the way of eventual direct conflict and potential intellectual complexity ... all the interest and good will built up by the sharply conceived preliminaries is washed away in a succession of scenes that feel crushingly routine and generic, not to mentioned guided by ideological urges falls short of district 9."
"The film is saddled by some rather corny flashback sequences that establish a mostly marginal backstory for Max that tries to lend his journey an epic weight. These scenes, in which we learn of his orphan background, and witness some prophetic advice from a nun, are not just poorly written (the dialogue is almost laughably amateur and on-the-nose), they actually undercut the impact of Max's arc by overplaying its hand."
There are mixed feelings on Sharlto Copley's ("District 9") performance.
THR says Copley's villainous character of Kruger comes off as "more appropriate for a live-action cartoon bad guy or an enemy in a 300-like bloodbath," while IGN calling him a scene stealer, possibly delivering the "performance of the summer."
Overall, Blomkamp knows what it takes to make a great movie.
"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."
"If you are looking for serious science-fiction, bursting with allegory and social commentary, you need look no further than Elysium. … [It has] the kind of exciting and intelligent entertainment that's been sorely missing from the summer movie season."
Consensus: See it.
With the summer schedule winding down, "Elysium" is the only real blockbuster out this month to see. In what looks like an alternate version of "After Earth" with scenery to rival that of Tom Cruise's "Oblivion" Blomkamp has seemingly delivered with his follow-up to "District 9" in another cautionary tale with messages of overpopulation and universal health care.
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