By Laurie Coker
In a season of sci-fi thrillers, like Oblivion, World War Z, in my book, Eyslium fails to deliver. An over bearing soundtrack, limited character connections and poor pacing makes Mat Damon’s newest venture a dull, misadventure. Having loved District9, another film from director/writer Neill Blomkamp, I hoped for better. I heard many positive comments from others as I left the theatre, but I couldn’t agree, even after talking with a colleague. Elysium left me flat.
It’s 2154 and ex-con Max DeCosta (Damom) works a laborious job in a factory, hoping to work his way to Eyslium, a utopia of sorts exclusively for the wealthy, run, not by its president, but by its determined and deceitful Secretary of Defense De La Cort (a wrongly cast Jodi Foster), who uses an evil henchman (Sharlto Copley) to stop citizens of the earth below from coming up. After a horrible accident involving radiation, Max finds himself with only five days to live. Making his plight to get to Elysium more complicated are his ex girlfriend and her leukemia riddled daughter, who need to get to the healing machine only available on Elysium.
Regardless of its lackluster storyline, Blomkamp’s overbearing soundtrack made me cringe. This coupled with limited character development made me disconnect almost immediately. I simply did not care about any character in the film, except perhaps Max. Damon does play this role with passion, but I just didn’t care and since I predicted the outcome early on, none of it mattered to me. Foster, stiff and ridged in deliver, seemed to be wholly uninvolved in this role. What a waste.
Blomkamp does do one thing well and that is his visuals. In District 9, where he worked within a limited budget, the CGI impresses, and in the R-rated Elysium, they are even more seamless and stunning. Images of Elysium hanging like a star in the sky, Earth ravaged by pollution, crime and overpopulation, and amazing and impressive droid police, spacecrafts and weaponry fill the screen and inspire awe. For this imagery Blomkamp deserves praise, but with so much wrong, I couldn’t even really connect with this aspect of the film, especially since I felt assaulted by the booming, disconnected music.
Elysium is monumental in scope for sure, but Blomkamp’s story and characters never garnered my attention, so I never cared. I might be in the minority, but I don’t mind. I love District 9 and even use it with my student when we study South African literature. I am placing a C- in my grade book. It’s still passing, but just barely.