11th Sep2013

‘Elysium’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga | Written and Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Elysium-Damon

South African director Neill Blomkamp made his feature film debut with District 9 in 2009, to much acclaim. A fantastic sci-fi film about aliens living in a Johannesburg slum and a human caught in the middle of the aliens attempt to get to their mother-ship and go home. It was a fantastic film with an original look and style, and Blomkamp immediately became one to watch.

When Elysium was announced my ears pricked up like a dog about to go for a walk, and as more and more details regarding the plot and cast of the film were released, my excitement as a science-fiction fan ignited.

Elysium stars Matt Damon (Bourne Identity, Dogma), Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs), Sharlto Copley (District 9) and Alice Braga (Predators, City of God) among others, and tells the story of a split in human class in the year 2154. Earth has become overpopulated and dilapidated and the poor struggle with their health and wellbeing while the rich exist on a space colony known as “Elysium” where they sip champagne and cure their diseases and ailments with a quick blast under a sun-bed type machine. The people of Earth, however, try to get to Elysium for the betterment of themselves and their families, by hijacking ships and attempting to escape into Elysium. It isn’t that easy though, and when Max (Damon) suffers an accident and is given five days to live, he must find his way to Elysium to cure his illness, or else sit on a crumbling Earth and die.

The plot is beautifully told and the performances from the excellently assembled cast are top notch. It’s nice to see Jodie Foster as a villain here too, she does it well. Sharlto Copley is also an excellent antagonist, while Damon and Alice Braga bring warmth and pride to the screen with their characters.

The visual style is insane, it looks amazing. Earth looks tired, broken and torn while Elysium looks beautiful, well groomed and prosperous. Sometimes the slums of science-fiction films look cartoonish and a little bogus, but here they look lived-in and authentic, eroded by time and the fight for survival. It works to create a world that we, as viewers, can believe in.  Blomcamp is a great director, mixing long sturdy shots with close-up over-the-shoulder action sequences that bring the viewer into the middle of the fight. It’s done brilliantly.

Elysium is a special film, a sci-fi movie that has grey areas and doesn’t plod along in the same obvious way as many that have come before. It’s fresh and looks and sounds amazing. With 2013 bringing us other science-fiction blockbusters such as Pacific Rim and Star Trek: Into Darkness it would be easy to lose Elysium in the mix, if it wasn’t for the fact that it stands at the top of the pile. The best science-fiction movie to come out in the past few years? That’s subjective, but in this reviewers opinion it is certainly high on the list, if not topping it.

Elysium is in cinemas now.

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One Response to “‘Elysium’ Review”

  • I’m generally not a fan of Sci-Fi and haven’t watched very many. Sounds like this one could be a watcher though. Jodie Foster is a definate pull for me. Will check it out when it comes onto DVD.