THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
"The best of Elysium comes from Sharlto Copley."
When District 9 came out in 2009, the sci-fi world got a breath of fresh air. A new genre voice, a director/writer with some shit to say about the world. With the release of Chappie in theaters, director Neill Blomkamp returns with, well, more shit to say about the world.
Blomkamp won a lotta love for District 9 and his recent Alien announcement brought even more. District 9 is fantastic, and like everyone else, I sure as hell hope he can bring something great back to the Alien franchise. At the same time, most fans probably hope Chappie will bring a return to form after the supposed misfire of Elysium. I disagree. Elysium might not be a classic, but it’s an entertaining flick that wants people to look at their world and see what we can make better.
Set in 2154, the film tells the oldest story known to man: The haves and the have-nots. The haves float around the earth in a space station, where everything is perfect and they have a lot of really fancy shit like shiny suits, insane military men, and the best health care available. Back on Earth, things don’t look so hot. Humans f*cked up the planet, of course, and those who couldn’t afford to bail live in ruins. Things change when an ex-con played by Matt Damon, who's just trying to get by with his industrial gig, ends up with radiation and has five days to live. With the help of underground movement, he heads to Elysium to take on the system.
Elysium is far from perfect. Despite Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, their characters play a bit flat. Even if he makes a dud, Damon’s personality usually comes through. As the ex-con Max, Damon looks sullen with his shaved head and funky exoskeleton, which I don’t really understand. I mean I know the film explains it and all, but it still don’t quite get it, plus it looks kind of goofy. Then there’s Foster, who isn’t memorable as the villain in the nice suit. She’s brings prestige as always, but her character just…exists.
Now, all that sounds like I don’t dig the film. Agree or disagree with the politics presented here, I respect a movie that gives social commentary by tackling health care, military power, immigration, overpopulation, and classism. At times, yes, it’s a little heavy handed, but it makes a point...though it could be more subtle. As for the effects, with double the budget of District 9, they obviously look freaking stunning though I hope Blomkamp never becomes a $200 million director. Limited budgets bring out creativity, and the man has a lot of it.
The best of Elysium comes from Sharlto Copley, who plays the evil heavy Kruger. Dude’s a badass, especially as he using his true (well, I assume it is) accent here. He’s a mean bastard, an unleashed dog who doesn't know when to quit. Copley isn't given a lot of character material, but the guy has that kind of manic energy that bleeds through the screen. He's by far the best thing in the film.
Is Elysium Distrtict 9? Don't be stupid. However, it shouldn't be written off. It's quality science fiction.