Language: English, Spanish, French
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp
Maxwell Perry Cotton
Watched this Blomkamp’s sophomore feature film in theater, to some extent I was underwhelmed by his universally-acclaimed debut DISTRICT 9 (2009), it seems that his novelistic intention overrides his implementation, notably his screenplay (this time he is the sole writer for ELYSIUM), the premise is always rosy and aspiring, but in the Sci-Fi territory, if the writer cannot justify the surrealistic world he creates with a certain holistic perspective to cover obtrusive plot-holes which are unavoidable byproducts out of the limitation of one’s imagination, very likely bathos will be the consequence.
In ELYSIUM, setting in 2154, Blomkamp inherits his visual motifs from DISTRICT 9 (the skeletal robot resembles an agiler Prawn) and enlarges the cosmic extravaganza by erecting a pristine man-made extraterrestrial homeland for upscale class meanwhile the seething dystopian of a scuzzy and overpopulated earth is an upgraded version of the refugee camp for The Prawns in Johannesburg. Howsoever the film’s box office prospect (a tepid response from the critics and its North American income is also disheartening, $82,877,000 so far), it is a bold decision for the production company to invest and purvey a wunderkind’s second film with a costly budget (reported $115,000,000) for an original Sci-Fi actioner.
Accumulating an almost 4-times funds than DISTRICT 9, Blomkamp could summon Hollywood top-tier names to guarantee more tickets-buyers which backfires, however his South African kindred spirit Sharlto Copley continues undertaking a chief role as the brutal outcast ex-agent, whose ambition pans out to be even more vicious than the ostensible villain, the combo of Damon and Foster is a whimsical but diverting one, but due to the ill-fated procession of the story, they don’t even share any scenes together, Damon is always a good Samaritan without memorable charisma to single himself out and Foster caricatures herself to a routine militarist with bizarre accent.
All the earthbound stratum is comprised of Latinos (save Damon here), Moura, Braga and Luna is certified foil around Damon’s amenable hero, contrasts sheer with the high-and-mighty White race in Elysium, robot-like but dons haute couture, speaks French and enjoys a disease-free technology. The omnipotent machine stands out as the sole excuse for earthlings to go to Elysium (actually only for those who are sick or disabled), since the lucky immigrants who stow away from earth to there (19 minutes by aircrafts, a rather facile maneuver) will all be effortlessly captured and repatriated back to the globe, so why they make a fuss over risking their lives in an ill-fated journey? Also the entire re-programming and rebooting scheme is a heedless product of a wholesome mind and cursorily conducted for the sake of being assimilated as any of its same kind. Unfortunately there are many equivocal set pieces like this pervading the entire film which restrains its potential to be a bona fide awe-inspiring eye-opener.
But on the other hand, imagination is contingent on the real world where germinates all the possible routes to extend and maximize our capacity of creation, the world in ELYSIUM could be our worst nightmare comes true because it touches on the basis of our undying prejudices on individuality and the callousness and irrationality looming over the inexorable gap between the wealthy and poor, as I mentioned in my review of DISTRICT 9, Blomkamp will always be on my radar as the new blood in the massive assembly line, time is all he needs to hone up his expertise and mostly essentially is to be on the lookout for a distinctive screenplay, he will fabricate his own CHILDREN OF MEN (2006) one day.