South African director Neill Blomkamp hit it big time when his low budget sci-fi movie District 9 became a runaway success in 2009. Now, equipped with a huge budget and all the CGI money can buy, plus having an ace actor Matt Damon to take on the helm as the movie’s hero, Neill is ready to take the world box office by storm with Elysium. Set in the distant future of 2154, the earth is in a post apocalypse state where human live under terrible conditions. This is in stark contrast to the good life in the space station Elysium where the rich can get to maintain their carefree lifestyle in a manufactured perfect environment that resembles an un-ruined earth complete with posh suburban estates. Sounds familiar? Can’t blame you for the de javu feeling here and I think that’s where Elysium fares the weakest. Neill’s story just have too many loop holes and clichés to feel original.
What works though is the fantastic cinematography and CGI imagery of the future. The aerial views of the devastation on earth and the contrast of the perfect settings in Elysium were breathtaking especially in IMAX proportion which makes it totally engrossing. The gritty earth depicted looks like a lot of the slums today and has a realistic feel to it. The action sequences were also intense and gritty. The other big plus is the cast. Both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster were excellent. Matt never looked better and had to carry much of the film as he appears in most part of the movie, while Jodie takes on something outside her alley, playing the role of the evil bitchy villain!
In conclusion, while I admit that I enjoyed watching Elysium, I began to question its many loopholes and logic afterwards. I felt director Neill Blomkamp failed to get full marks and let it down with a rather weak story with clichéd situations and ending. His attempts to evoke emotions from the viewers felt forced and calculated. Recommended with reservations.
Ratings: 3 stars