'Elysium' strikes equilibrium
By Wen Shin Kuo, The China Post“Elysium” will inevitably be compared to Neill Blomkamp's masterpiece debut “District 9.” Indeed verdicts have already been passed down of it being disappointing and falling short of expectations. However, for originality, visual craft, discussed themes and its storyline, it does strive to be much more than your average Friday night movie.
August 12, 2013, 5:26 pm TWN
Although it's not the first apocalypse-themed futuristic flick to hit theaters this year, it is set apart by its elite cast of Matt Damon (playing Max Coburn), Sharlto Copley (as villain Agent Kruger) and its award-winning director and writer, Blomkamp.
On top of its well-developed characters and plots, “Elysium” offers good entertainment, well-choreographed combat and explosions for the boys; a love story for the girls; and discussion of immigration and universal health care for the critics.
It is the year 2154 and Earth has become an overpopulated, chaotic mess of crime, poverty and extreme pollution. The extraordinarily elite live on a space station not far from Earth's orbit called Elysium, where their pristine and luxurious lifestyles are preserved. The terminally ill and dying try desperately to board often-lethal flights to illegally immigrate to Elysium, with the ultimate goal of flying up to the beautiful star in the sky for the medical miracle of the auto-surgical medical pod.
However, the security forces of Elysium will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening, such as commanding overly excited Agent Kruger to shoot down unregistered space shuttles, killing the sick women and children aboard. Elysium's ice-cold Secretary of Defense Delacourt, played by Jodie Foster, in her power suit and silver hair, is thirsty for power and secretly employs blood-thirsty Kruger against orders of Elysium's president and kills for segregation, power, and to maintain the elite way of life.
The one man who can change this is Max Coburn, who ends up with only five days to live after his mundane factory job exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation. He reluctantly accepts a death-mission from underground revolutionary leader Spider (Wagner Moura), to hijack an Elysium elite and download organic data from his head. This then leads to Max acquiring the power to override the entire Elysium system so that all (both Earth and Elysium citizens) are entitled to medical treatment.
The technology the storyline revolves around may seem far-fetched at times, especially with the cure-all automatic medical pod and organic data which is downloadable from the human brain with no explanation offered on the mechanics behind it, but the film's merits lie elsewhere. Much of the cinematography seems to be shot through the eyes of the protagonist, Max, especially when he was a little boy, so that it makes him more human than the heros in most Hollywood action films.
The film feels full, complete, with a complex dystopian world of its own with real people and real problems. The main characters have a history and a story beautifully portrayed through flash-back montages without the usual overdose of clichés, letting the audience see more depth than just their ultimate goal in the film. ■
Falling short of 'District 9' but nonetheless original and creative. (Courtesy of Sony picture)