Elysium (Neill Blomkamp: 2013)

Elysium. Photo: Sony Pictures
Elysium. Photo: Sony Pictures

When District 9 came out back in 2009, I didn’t do my research. I dismissed it as another sci-fi monster flick and didn’t give it a watch in the cinemas, despite its Oscar nominations. It wasn’t until last year when I watched it as part of my university course that I was introduced to the genius that is Neill Blomkamp. I was immediately taken aback by just how clever the film was, on so many levels.

Cinematically I thought it was one of the more accomplished films I’d seen in awhile, and studying it academically revealed the clever social commentaries going on underneath all the alien/human bloodbaths. So naturally, when I started hearing about Blomkamp’s next feature release Elysium starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and the excellent Sharlto Copley from District 9, I was excited.

I wasn’t disappointed either – I thought Elysium was a worthy successor of District 9. Admittedly not quite as trail-blazing or original, but District 9 was an exceedingly tough act to follow. The Elysium of the title is a *space station* built by wealthy humans to escape the poverty and over-crowding of Earth. On Elysium there is no illness and the inhabitants live a leisurely life, watched over by Foster’s power-hungry defence secretary Delacourt.

Max (Damon) is a poor Earthling, who is accidently and most unfortunately shot up with a lethal dose of radiation. He needs to get to Elysium within 5 days to use a Med-Bay and cleanse his body, or he’ll die. What follows is an exciting and emotional quest for Max, who is hunted by Foster and her mercenary Kruger (Copley) in order to maintain the lifestyle on Elysium.

With stand-out graphics, a gripping and well-written script and a handful of brilliant performances, I would recommend Elysium to anyone. For me, it’s worth going just for Copley’s bloodthirsty performance alone, with the South Afrian thespian fast becoming one of the most charismatic actors of recent times.

District 9 (Blomkamp’s debut feature) received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Visual Effects, demonstrating the arrival of the young South African-Canadian filmmaker and announcing him as one of the most exciting talents in the film world. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Elysium earns itself a few award nominations in the coming year, as a clever and well-made sci-fi movie that truly has something for everyone.

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