Urban Industry

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Movie Review: Elysium

August 28, 2013

It’s been a while since I last did a proper movie post on the Urban Industry blog. To be honest, after this whole Summer of Doom there wasn’t really a whole lot I felt warranted writing about bar the odd 140-character ‘this is shit/avoid at all costs’ warnings on Twitter. Thankfully my faith in the multiplex has been temporarily restored after seeing Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Elysium’ last night.

The second outing for the South African director after 2009’s surprise hit ‘District 9’ is the rarest of beasts – a smart and socially aware science fiction film that delivers a strong message but still has all the stunning visual effects and explosive action you’d hope for in a big budget futuristic blockbuster. Set in the year 2154, the plot is a thinly-veiled critique of the current social inequalities that abound. The richest of the rich have long vacated Earth for the luxurious surroundings of Elysium, a state-of-the-art space station hovering just above earth that not even Ben Baller’s Hypebeast Essentials could match in terms of opulent luxury – robotic servants, Versace-branded medical bays and champagne on demand. The rest of us (aka the 99%) live on earth, a desolate wasteland full of crime, poverty and disease. The story focuses on lowly assembly line worker Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) who is exposed to a massive dose of radiation following an industrial accident. On learning he only has 5 days to live before his sickness takes him; Max sets out on a desperate mission to get to Elysium by any means necessary in order to cure himself.

I really enjoyed this film. Much like ‘District 9’ there are plenty of quirks in there that help the film stand out as a true original. Whereas Blomkamp’s debut had ‘prawns’ and weird South African accents, ‘Elysium’ has crazy cyberpunk leanings and even weirder South African accents. Speaking of which, special mention must go to Sharlto Copely who plays Max’s nemesis Agent Kruger. Copely previously was cast as the protagonist in ‘District 9’ as the weedy government official Wilkus. In this movie he is positively menacing and seems to have grown about 2 foot in the process. Proving that a good beard maketh the man, Copely’s Kruger will go down as one of the great on-screen villains in years to come. I couldn’t speak about this film without mentioning the effects and visual design as well. I was simply blown away by the world that Blomkamp and his team had created. No dodgy CG or 3D gimmickry here – instead it feels like you’re experiencing a living and breathing world where you could almost feel the rust and dirt on Earth as well as being able to see your own reflection in the polished sheen of Elysium.  Really breath-taking stuff by all accounts. ‘Elysium’ is currently on general release and I urge you to check it out.

8.5 screws in Matt Damon’s head / 10

by SeanM