HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, will the seemingly ceaseless barrage of terrible 2013 films ever END? Based on “Elysium”, I suspect it will only nominally end on New Year’s Eve, ready for another onslaught in 2014.
Hype alert, this is the new film from “District 9” director Neill Blomkamp. We all liked “District 9”, right? I mean it was an action film, done on a shaky camera and set in South Africa with a cast of people with regional accents and everything. And it had a MESSAGE about… hmm well I’m sure it did, it’s been a while since I saw it. So BASICALLY it’s an arthouse film and if we all say we like it, we can all bask in the reflected glow of smugness that comes from liking ‘indie’ films.
While I think I sort of liked “District 9”, I HATED this. Upsettingly it didn’t even seem like it would be bad as bad films usually do, so I feel betrayed by the universe.
Matt Damon plays lovable rogue Max – sorry, miserable rogue – who gets in trouble for doing a load of crimes. Bad Max. But he’s trying to turn his life around, until he suffers an industrial accident leaving him with days to live. So he does a load more crime to… actually I have no idea what his motive was.
He’s living on shitty old Earth, which in a century or so is literally full of shanty towns, all the grass is dead, the place is polluted, everyone’s a douchebag to one another, and everyone speaks English with Spanish phrases thrown in to sound cool. Cinematic shorthand for this is “the world is overcrowded and has turned to shit, so just imagine Mexico, but everywhere”.
Those bastard rich people have fled to a glamorous space station called Elysium, where they can go about their lives uninterrupted, having garden parties and wearing bikinis like the arsehole 1% they are. BOOOOO. Also they have magic beds that cure all illnesses, but being evil they don’t share it with the Earthlings. BOOO!!! *froths at the mouth with indignity*.
Jodie Forster is a power lesbian evil Secretary of State on Elysium (a woman politician! Whatever next!?), sick of being bossed around by that INDIAN-SOUNDING PRESIDENT (how modern! But will he show his birth certificate?), so decides to take over civilised society with some malware. OH GOD I CAN’T GO ON.
This is a ludicrous plot, with a ridiculously contrived world that seems to have been dreamt up by a liberal equivalent of the Tea Party. I suppose it’s meant to be a lesson to all you evil bastards out there who are selfish and don’t want equality for poor people, this is what will happen if we carry on like we are. Except it’s stupid and unrealistic.
Matt Damon stumbles around, frowning like an overbaked potato in a robot suit, Jodie is just mean at everyone instead of making up a good plan, her henchman – the preposterous Kruger – despite being South African has the most bizarre accent this side of Gerard Butler trying to speak Scottish. It’s just a load of fights, people yelling, flawed social commentary and one-dimensional characters who don’t appear to know what they are doing or feeling from one scene to the next.
The plot has bizarre holes (why is the treasured Elysium, seat of the world’s power, not defended at all? There was one guy with a bazooka on Earth, he was the defence system). Why did so many people seem to be able to read machine-code they’ve never seen before, let alone buzzing past their eyes at 10 pages per second? How did this film ever get made? My expectations were set somewhere between disinterest and apathy, and somehow this film fell way short. Avoid this, unless you want the lukewarm sensation of brain-matter dripping out through your nose.