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Elysium (2013) - Neill Blomkamp - with Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley


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This pic of Matt Damon is making the rounds from Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, set to open March 1st, 2013.

Matt-Damon-in-Elysium-2013-Movie-Image-620x435.jpg

I know I'm in the minority here but, other than some striking visuals, I wasn't all that impressed by District 9. And this short synopsis from Collider.com doesn't really have me itching to get in line early for this film. Perhaps Syd Mead's design work will get me more interested, once they start revealing more of that.

In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Hmmmm... I only did a title search, but it seems there was another thread, Mysterious Film with a Mysterious Trailer, that hints to being this film.

Perhaps one of you nice moderators could combine the two here, since I've gone ahead and given this thread a proper heading?

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 3 months later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 months later...

Saw some bus stop bench advertisements pop up this week in the L.A. area. Very low key, almost reminded me of the ads for THE PURGE. The ad was like a typical realty ad you'd see on a bus stop bench. It read...

"Affordable homes beginning at just $250 million on Elysium"

Nothing more than that...

I'll try to take a picture the next time I see one. Couldn't find any unger google images.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 1 month later...

David Ehrlich at Letterboxd:

 

seriously shameful storytelling here. neat tactile design does little to compensate for pathetic world-building / a complete lack of characterization. i mean, this shit makes OBLIVION look like f---ing BLADE RUNNER

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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David Ehrlich at Letterboxd:

 

seriously shameful storytelling here. neat tactile design does little to compensate for pathetic world-building / a complete lack of characterization. i mean, this shit makes OBLIVION look like f---ing BLADE RUNNER

I have a really hard time believing that. I mean, did anyone see Oblivion?

It's pretty hard to be worse than that.

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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Hollywood Reporter:

Coming in the wake of After Earth and White House Down, this marks Sony's third big-budget disappointment of the summer, the problems this time stemming from deflating final-act script problems that one would think could have been easily identified ... [T]he film narrows into a series of standard gun battles, explosions, mad dashes, close calls, tough-guy fisticuffs, ridiculously fast downloading of massive computer files under maximum duress and, in the end, mawkish sentimentality ...

 

New York Post:

But this isn’t the first time a movie has strained so hard to issue a topical message — the poor Latino Earthlings who keep trying to sneak onto the space station are even called “illegals” — that it lost track of basic storytelling imperatives ... Some of this might be forgivable if anyone could say, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” But no one can. Just a couple of months ago, Tom Cruise paid visits to a ruined Earth from his snazzy space station in another weak sci-fi effort, prophetically titled “Oblivion.” Mediocre minds think alike too.

 

A.V. Club:

It doesn’t help that all the other characters are stick figures: Braga basically embodies the saintly perseverance of the lower class, while the villains are either dimestore sociopaths or boo-and-hiss-worthy millionaires.  Elysium feeds off of lingering traces of Occupy outrage, but its fantasy rewiring of the rigged financial system hinges on a technological MacGuffin, not an actual transformation of society. Blomkamp’s interests clearly lie elsewhere, with big guns and bigger spacecrafts ...

 

Time:

Elysium posits a blend of two clashing political scenarios: the Occupy Wall Street notion of the 1% enslaving the 99%, and the Tea Party fear of Latinos turning American cities into Rio-style favelas. But wait, there’s more. The illegals keep trying to invade the promised land to overthrow the Richie Riches, and to get access to free, life-saving medical care. Through some industrial-strength brain surgery, Max is implanted with crucial secret data downloaded from the brain of Elysium’s top techie entrepreneur (William Fichtner), who may as well be Steve Jobs to Max’s Edward Snowden. And of course there are drones, monitoring the underclass and attacking them at whim ... The context and subtext are plenty imposing here. What’s missing is the text: an engaging plot ... And guess what else? Max has five days to live, and Frey’s daughter Matilda is dying of leukemia.
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One word kept coming to mind on the way home: Risible.

You know how Libby Gelman-Waxner a.k.a. Paul Rudnick once said that Contact was the kind of movie in which all the world's religions agree on a single God just to gang up on Jodie Foster? Elysium tipped in a similar direction, for me: there's just one space station for the 1%, and just one city, apparently, for the 99% (until the very end of the film, where we suddenly get brief glimpses of other cities, kind of like that ridiculous bit near the end of Independence Day where we learn that all of the world's military forces have been waiting for America to inspire them).

Ya gotta love how the 1% are represented by Asians and whites who speak French, while the 99% are represented by Latinos, blacks and whites who speak Spanish. No cultural stereotyping there.

And of course, there is zero middle class here. I do like the irony of Matt Damon and his fellow factory workers making the droids that are used to oppress them, but still, when I look at the space station of Elysium itself, I wonder: who runs tech support up there? Where are the janitors? Do they fly them up from Los Angeles for temporary visits, the same way William Fichtner comes down from Elysium occasionally to make sure his factory is running okay? Or is everything just magically "fixed" by the machines themselves, kind of like those superpowered medical beds (which are way, way sillier than the automated surgery pod in Prometheus)?

When Jodie Foster tells that guy to go back to his "fundraisers", who is he raising the money from? Don't they all live on Elysium already? Or is there the possibility that, I dunno, some mortgages might get foreclosed, in which case certain "citizens" of Elysium would lose their citizenship and be sent back down to Earth, while other people on Earth might be able to move up to the space station?

I know, I know, Elysium is just a "fable"... but then why is it also such a big-budgeted, striving-for-realism kind of flick?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh, and what was with that nun? Does she tell *every* child that they have a special destiny? The film certainly doesn't hint that she has prophetic powers or anything like that, but it *does* seem to indicate that her prediction of a special destiny was ultimately fulfilled because Matt Damon CHANGED THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! So what about all the other poor slobs that the nun has spoken to over the years? What were *their* special destinies? If you don't CHANGE THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!, have you squandered your special destiny? Does this film ultimately affirm the 1% who CHANGE THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! while dismissing the 99% who don't?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Am I the only one who thought this was, well, sort of fantastic?

Props to Peter for pointing out some logic-problems with the film's world building, but those questions are secondary (at least for me) to how the film worked, as a film.

And as a film, I thought Elysium was pretty top notch. Coming after the mixed reviews, I was expecting to be disappointed, but I wasn't . . . at all.

Especially compared to the current crop of films in theaters, I thought Elysium was working at an entirely different level than, say, Pacific Rim or Wolverine (both of which I liked, and were a good deal better than most of this summer's films).

For one, there's the absolutely fantastic production design. There's moments of real beauty and grandeur here. The shots of the ships shuttling from earth to Elysium have a sort of realism to them that puts, say, Star Trek to shame. (Elysium is also much closer, for all its problems, to hard sci-fi than anything else this summer).

I also found the 'South African' touch here really fascinating. There's almost a suggestion, at the end of the film, of some kind of shared history between Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley's character.

Also, Sharlto Copley! His villain here is almost good, in his own way, as Cumberbatch is in Into Darkness. He almost gives off the feeling of an African warlord.

Does Elysium say anything really meaningful about immigration or wealth disparity? Probably not. But, at least for my money, does it deal dramatically with those issues better than most movies (The Dark Knight Rises first among them).

More than anything, Elysium is _convincing_ in a sort of fundamental way that Oblivion (which one reviewer, ridiculously in my opinion, compared this to) just isn't. That has more to do with a weighty sense of production design than it does to logic, in my opinion. (I too, had problems with the way Elysium citizens are magically 'scanned' and 'fixed' by machines - but that didn't undermine the otherwise extremely convincing sense of realism in relation to the production design and other elements).

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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The production design is indeed impressive, even if it's beginning to feel a bit old hat by now.

Timothy Zila wrote:

: I also found the 'South African' touch here really fascinating. There's almost a suggestion, at the end of the film, of some kind of shared history between Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley's character.

I found Foster's off-and-on accent distracting (and in one scene, the scene where she meets Fichtner face-to-face, her voice didn't even seem to be in sync; bad ADR, perhaps?).

Also, I'm not really sure what the "South African" touch here is supposed to be. It was abundant in District 9, the reference points of which spanned over a century of South African history (from the British concentration camps of the Boer War to the current distrust that white and black South Africans both have for the Zimbabwean refugees that have flooded across their borders). But apart from Copley's accent (and maybe Foster's, some of the time), what is "South African" about this film?

: Also, Sharlto Copley! His villain here is almost good, in his own way, as Cumberbatch is in Into Darkness.

Wow. Cumberbatch's Khan kept reminding me of Dana Carvey's Khan, he was that campy at times. ("Kahhhhhrk...") Copley's villain is at least an original.

: Does Elysium say anything really meaningful about immigration or wealth disparity? Probably not. But, at least for my money, does it deal dramatically with those issues better than most movies (The Dark Knight Rises first among them).

I'm not sure what it means to say that a film deals with something well "dramatically" but has nothing "meaningful" to say about it.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'll admit to liking this as well, for most of the same reasons Timothy mentioned. The production design and Matt Damon won me over.  But I also certainly saw many gaps in logic.  And those medical pods were too much with their ability to cure cancer and rebuild human heads in literally seconds.  For some reason they reminded me of those silly devices in Star Trek: The Next Generation that can create "tea, earl grey, hot" out of thin air.

 

As for the South African element, I noticed a South African flag painted on the side of Sharlto Copley's ship. It also seemed pretty clear to me that Jodie Foster's character was South African, but maybe that was just me imposing my own knowledge of the director's history and his previous movie onto this one.

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I also liked this but didn't quite love it.  Linked to the problem of the nun that Peter mentioned above, I found the flashbacks and the related relationship between Damon's character and that doctor to feel unnatural and forced.  The film gave me no reason to truly believe that they could have retained any sort of true or deep connection that would have been eventually rekindled in that way.

 

I didn't see the film to be mainly about immigration, although that is certainy an aspect.  I saw it to be about the availibility of health care in a caste system based on wealth.  This indeed can be linked to immigration where part of the reason some want to come to a certain country is because of health care benefits, but it is also certainly prevalent within the systems of some countries, or even within certain cities.  

 

So.  Being a Hollywood film, this would also be topical to the U.S. where the issue of health care has been debated as of late.

Edited by Attica
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*** SPOILERS ***

Alyssa Rosenberg @ Think Progress:

Elysium falls apart the more you think about it–and fails in its mission to speak truth to power–because of its inability to explain a simple question: why is health care scarce on Earth in the world of Elysium? The movie shows us many ways that life in Elysium is more comfortable and satisfying than life on earth, but Blomkamp focuses his camera narrowly on people on Earth who want to get to Elysium mainly for access to medical pods that can cure even grave illnesses with a single, quick scan. And at the conclusion of the movie, they get it. After Spider and Max download a program into the Elysium mainframe that makes everyone on Earth a citizen, and thus able to be scanned by the devices, shuttles full of the pods take off for Earth where people of all races, genders, and creeds flock to make use of them. It’s not as if there’s a medical device scarcity. There could be other reasons that health care is restricted, but it’s not particularly made clear in the movie what those motives might be. . . .

In other words, there’s absolutely no good reason that the medical pods aren’t already on Earth at the beginning of Elysium. And given that access to health care is presented as the main reason that people try to get to fake citizenship and land shuttles on Elysium–the people of Earth seem remarkably uninterested in ripping off their wealthier counterparts, which is a rather saintly perspective on humanity from the man who made District 9–that suggests that providing medical pods on Earth would remove the main exit pressure for immigration, however fleeting their stays there might be. If what the residents of Elysium want is to live their lives untouched by the desperately poor citizens of Earth, then why not ship down medical pods, eliminate the most pressing needs that are spurring citizens to challenge inequality, and bleed off enough political pressure to keep your segregated world intact and separate?

A much sharper version of Elysium might have ended with Delacourt doing precisely that, sending down medical pods, extending citizenship to Earth’s population while preserving a two-tiered structure within it, and cutting Spider’s nascent movement off at the knees by addressing its most pressing need. That would have been a powerful demonstration of how resilient economic inequality and the interests behind it really are. Or a sequel might deal with Spider’s gift becoming a curse and a force for social turmoil as the maker of the pods emerges, and demands payments on the kind of per-service basis that keeps health care costs so high in the U.S. now, or holds back parts that are needed to repair the pods as they begin to break down and need servicing.

But presenting the pods as a magical cure-all with no strings attached means that the only real explanation for denying them to Earth’s population is that Elysium’s leaders are both mean and stupid, that they enjoy watching the people of Earth suffer, but have no sense of how that suffering might ruin the sanctity of their new Eden. It’s satisfying to think of villains that way if you simply want to demonize them. But vicious and dumb is rarely combination that that describes the actual, rational cunning that people in power use to keep themselves there, and to keep themselves wealthy.

Steve Sailer @ Taki's Mag:

The new movie Elysium, another science-fiction fable from young Boer refugee Neill Blomkamp about the horrors of mass immigration and nonwhite overpopulation, isn’t terribly amusing to watch. But at the meta level, the career of Blomkamp, whose mother dragged the family off from Johannesburg to Vancouver after a 17-year-old friend was shot dead by black carjackers, is one of the funnier pranks played on the American culturati’s hive mind in recent decades.

I’ve read over a hundred reviews of Blomkamp’s two movies, and virtually no critic has noticed that he does not share their worldview.

Not at all.

Blomkamp’s 2009 Best Picture-nominated District 9, in which the black residents of his native Johannesburg demand that their black-run government clear out millions of feckless illegal space aliens, was universally praised by American critics as an apartheid allegory. Yet Blomkamp has relentlessly insisted in interviews that it’s really about “the collapse of Zimbabwe and the flood of illegal immigrants into South Africa, and then how you have impoverished black South Africans in conflict with the immigrants.”

Similarly, Elysium is another Malthusian tale about open borders, set in a dystopian 2154. By then, Los Angeles has been completely overrun by Mexicans, who have turned it into an endless, dusty slum that looks remarkably like urban Mexico today. (Blomkamp filmed for four months in Mexico City.) . . .

Blomkamp, a gun-loving Afrikaner whose movies are based around his fear that the rapid breeding of Third Worlders threatens to bring down civilization, says Elysium originated in a disastrous visit to Mexico in 2005. While shooting a Nike commercial in lovely San Diego, the Boer crossed the border one evening to see Tijuana, where he was abducted by corrupt Mexican cops who shook him down for $900 in return for not killing him. . . .

If Blomkamp’s message is “socialist,” as various conservative sites have complained, it’s in the Afrikaner sense that the old apartheid state offered “Fascism for the blacks, capitalism for the English and Jews, and socialism for the Boers.” . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"But presenting the pods as a magical cure-all with no strings attached means that the only real explanation for denying them to Earth’s population is that Elysium’s leaders are both mean and stupid, 

 

 

I had wondered something along a similar lines.  Sending down the pods to earth would have actually served the Elysium leaders.  They would have had more healthy labour cheaply working for them.

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Steve Sailer @ Taki's Mag:

Blomkamp, a gun-loving Afrikaner whose movies are based around his fear that the rapid breeding of Third Worlders threatens to bring down civilization, 

 

 

ermm.gif I've had the suspicion that Blomkamp's movies aren't quite as politically correct or fashionably socialistic as many critics make them out to be, but this is a breathtaking accusation.

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I wondered why they didn't just build robots to run the factories.

 

 

Maybe its cheaper and uses less resources just to have humans.  Plus it keeps them busy and employed so that they're less threat to Elysium.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did I never post my 60 second review? Here it is.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G-mnRA6gW7o

 

 

 


Steve Sailer @ Taki's Mag:


Blomkamp, a gun-loving Afrikaner whose movies are based around his fear that the rapid breeding of Third Worlders threatens to bring down civilization, 

 

 

ermm.gif I've had the suspicion that Blomkamp's movies aren't quite as politically correct or fashionably socialistic as many critics make them out to be, but this is a breathtaking accusation.

 

 

Yeah, and not really persuasive, I think. Sailer seems to me to oversimplify a laundry list of topical themes around one particular pole, but this reading doesn't offer special persuasive power. (Why are both of his films' sympathies with the oppressed "Third Worlders"?)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Did I never post my 60 second review? Here it is.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G-mnRA6gW7o

 

 

 

Steve Sailer @ Taki's Mag:

Blomkamp, a gun-loving Afrikaner whose movies are based around his fear that the rapid breeding of Third Worlders threatens to bring down civilization, 

 

 

ermm.gif I've had the suspicion that Blomkamp's movies aren't quite as politically correct or fashionably socialistic as many critics make them out to be, but this is a breathtaking accusation.

 

 

Yeah, and not really persuasive, I think. Sailer seems to me to oversimplify a laundry list of topical themes around one particular pole, but this reading doesn't offer special persuasive power. (Why are both of his films' sympathies with the oppressed "Third Worlders"?)

 

Yeah, District 9 seems completely unconcerned with the possible "end of civilization" for the first worlders.  Heck, it is about a first world beaurocrat who sides with the oppressed once he finds he is starting to lose that status.  The "Civilization" are the bad guys in District 9.

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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  • 1 month later...

In case anyone was wondering, this film did a little less-well than District 9 in North America, but it did twice as well as that film overseas.

And while some people argue that the film should have done even better, given that it's got a star like Matt Damon in the lead (as opposed to District 9, which had no stars at all), Elysium is actually Damon's 8th-biggest hit worldwide, behind all three Ocean's movies, two Bourne sequels, Saving Private Ryan and The Departed -- and with the exception of the Bourne sequels, those were all basically ensemble films.

So, this is arguably Damon's biggest movie as a leading man outside of the Bourne franchise.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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