Saturday, August 10, 2013
Earlier today, I watched the latest sci-fi film to be directed by Neill Blomkamp...who helmed 2009's Oscar-nominated hit, District 9. Much as how District 9 conveyed a political message about apartheid in South Africa, Elysium dealt with the topic of illegal immigration and even um, Obamacare in its futuristic storyline. As the TV spots and trailers show, all of the rich (Caucasian) folks live on a luxurious space station orbiting the Earth—while the remaining inhabitants (RE: minorities) are left behind looking for decent medical care on our pollution-ravaged planet. The person destined to change all of this, of course, is a robot mechanic named Max (Matt Damon). Yearning to travel to space station Elysium ever since he was young, Max gets more than he bargains for when events transpire that actually makes it a matter of life and death for him to fly up to the orbital outpost. Not just for him, but for those close to Max and minorities wanting to experience the plush lifestyle that could be found on Elysium. The only people standing in his way are Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her rogue agent Kruger (played by District 9's Sharlto Copley).
While Blomkamp did a respectable job trying to allude to illegal immigration and universal healthcare in Elysium, this latest flick wasn't as noteworthy as District 9. The visual effects in this latest film, like that of its '09 predecessor, were top-notch. The acting however, was a different story. While it was forgivable that District 9 had shaky performances since it relied on unknown actors working on a $30 million budget, Elysium was made for $115 million and had Academy Award heavyweights Foster and Damon to carry the film. Damon was commendable in the movie, though his character wasn't as tough as the marketing campaign made him out to be...while Foster had some moments where she was giving Delacourt's lines without putting much effort into them. Sharlto Copley was cool as Kruger, but his attempt to convey an Australian accent was as amusing as him talking with a Texas drawl when he played Murdock in 2010's The A-Team.
I wouldn't be surprised if Blomkamp and/or TriStar come up with a not-so-farfetched idea to make a crossover film between Distict 9 and Elysium. The technology portrayed in Elysium is obviously advanced; along with the fact that humans are capable of building a giant space station where the ability to cure cancer is possible, devices exist where a man can have his face perfectly reconstructed after half of it was blown off by a grenade. Oh, and a handheld rocket-propelled grenade launcher can fire missiles (from a vantage point in Los Angeles) hundreds if not thousands of miles up into space to destroy 'undocumented' ships trying to venture to Elysium. All of this sounds like something that you would've saw with the aliens of District 9. While Elysium is a different beast from Blomkamp's first feature-length film, it is still a sci-fi movie trying to make us think of the current world we live in (or at least about how things are in 21st century America). Any flick that tries to make itself relevant to the issues we see or read on the news everyday should be commended—even if the movie fell short in some other aspects of its story. Carry on.