Looking at the trailer months prior to the release of Elysium, I had high hopes for the sci-fi action movie. I love everything about Matt Damon, including his role in the Bourne trilogy, The Departed, The Legend of Bagger Vance and much more. I also enjoy his ongoing “feud” with Jimmy Kimmel. Furthermore, he seems like a legitimately good person, which is nice to see in a celebrity.
Sharlto Copley’s appearance in the trailer also excited me based on his fantastic performances in District 9 and The A-Team. Speaking of District 9, Neill Blomkamp directed Elysium. Naturally, I thought this film couldn’t go wrong. Well…
Elysium didn’t quite live up to the shocking quality of District 9. I will compare the two because they are not only directed and written by Blomkamp, but also they are eerily similar. It was almost as if, Elysium was a sequel to District 9.
Elysium vs. District 9 Similarities
1. People of Earth (Elysium)=Aliens (District 9)
2. Matt Damon (Elysium)=Sharlto Copley (District 9)
3. Sharlto Copley (Elysium)=Random bald military guy (District 9)
4. People of Elysium (Elysium)=People of Earth (District 9)
5. Objective of protagonists: Fly ship to Elysium (Elysium)=Objective of protagonists: Fly ship home (District 9)
6. Shocking Graphic Violence (Elysium)=Shocking Graphic Violence (District 9)
7. Robot parts drilled into Matt Damon (Elysium)=Mech suit utilized by Sharlto Copley (District 9)
Now, this is not a criticism and these comparisons are not dead on, but when you closely mirror a fantastic film you’ve already tasked yourself with living up to its quality.
Elysium didn’t have a casting issue. When you have a team of Damon, Copley and Jodie Foster, a movie shouldn’t go wrong. However, Elysium didn’t utilize its talent correctly. Copley just seemed silly as a character, and the movie failed to provide his character’s back story. Foster worked in her role as a strong-willed woman in a place of power, but for the caliber she could provide the character was quite stoic. Damon was himself, but Elysium failed to fully utilize his talent as an actor. Specifically, Damon kicks ass in the Bourne movies. Why not use his experience with that trilogy to create better hand-to-hand action sequences?
On the other hand, Copley’s character’s evolution drove the emotionally gripping District 9 into the ranks of other Oscar nominated of the 2009 movie season. Damon’s character is also meant to evolve, but it doesn’t flow as well as Copley’s character in District 9.
Elysium also had an epic and inspiring tone to it, but it wasn’t either of those things. I was in no way emotionally attached to any of the characters. Because of this, the climax fell short on me. Elysium falls about 10 to 15 minutes short of the two-hour mark, so maybe they could have used that time to add character development. I think it could have helped the audience attach to the characters a bit better.
I enjoyed the unique and powerful weaponry created in the film. I also liked how Elysium was shot. It had a little too much slow motion, but other than that it felt very real, despite the fantasy world created. It had everything in place for a great sci-fi movie to see in theaters, but it didn’t have the substance to accompany it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In comparison with a film as strong as District 9, Elysium falls flat and isn’t worth the price of admission.
I’ll give Elysium 2 and 1/2 out of 5 cups.
As of Aug. 11, Elysium made a domestic total of approximately $30 million versus a production budget of $115 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
To see the movie trailer for Elysium, click here.