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Monday, 30 September 2013

Elysium (2013)

Director     : Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay : Neill Blomkamp
Running Time : 109 minutes
Cast : Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, William Fichtner.
Budget : $115 Million

“Diseased, overpopulated, ruined”.

Welcome to Earth - 2154, the opening scene of Elysium, Neill Blomkamp's latest science-fiction thriller. Elysium is a man-made utopia orbiting around Earth, 'created by the super rich to preserve their way of life', according to the movie. The citizens of Elysium live in bliss, completely ignorant of the happenings on Earth, which has degenerated to a state of Malthusian disarray.

The movie lets you explore an interesting world with lots of thrilling action pieces. The design and technology of everything in Elysium  manages to balance between reality and futuristic cool stuff. The director has incorporated some stunning special effects that go along with the tone of the movie. The cinematography was simply superb and we appreciate the attention to detail in many aspects of the surrealistic world.

The protagonist Matt Damon plays a disgruntled citizen of Earth, Max, who has been obsessed with the idea of reaching Elysium since childhood. However, faced with the harsh reality that getting to Elysium (or rather, getting citizenship of Elysium) is next to impossible, he indulges in crime and later tries to reform himself. Forced into a life-or-death situation and into a perilous condition, he realizes he has a far higher purpose to fulfill than simply bringing his own desires to fruition.

Jodie Foster superbly plays the part of Delacourt, the ruthless, steely, corrupt, and power-hungry Secretary of Defense of Elysium(watch out for her accent!). This is in stark contrast to her role in Silence of the Lambs, where she is docile and at mercy to the whims of Hannibal Lecter. It is a tribute to her acting that she is able to pull off both roles with ease. The awesome William Fichtner (The Dark Knight, Alex Mahone of Prison Break) convincingly takes the role of her emotionless and equally ruthless co-conspirator.

The engaging Sharlto Copley (District 9, Murdock  of The A Team) also deserves mention for pulling off a villainous role with ease , acting as Kruger an earth-based agent of Elysium.

Society is split into the “haves” and the “have-nots”, and self-preservation takes precedence over any sense of civic sensibility. Each of the main characters is corrupt in one way or another, including the protagonist, providing a refreshing break from the archetypal heroes we’ve been exposed to recently in cinema halls. Matt Damon’s slow progression from a man interested only in keeping his own life to one who is ready to sacrifice it, makes the plot line almost a “reverse tragedy”, so to speak. After watching the movie, we felt that Alice Braga was not the only thing common between this movie and  Will Smith’s I am Legend.

Several things set this sci-fi apart. For one thing, the movie seems to be a political commentary on the world today. Delacourt seems uncannily like Angela Merkel: both are “iron ladies” chiefly interested in preserving their own state's way of life and prosperity. Los Angeles has become a ghetto where Spanish and English are interchangeably spoken. Latinos and Africans trying to overthrow the whites and gain control. Yes, we get the point Mr.Neill!

Bizarre observations :
For a movie set 100 years in the future, the Earth computers were ancient and basic - Running on DOS!
Also, the president of Elysium is an Indian(funnily named Patel).

Ultimately, the movie presents provokes thought about questions that are relevant in today’s time. Can altruism be justified in a world running out of resources? If protecting your own way of life involves killing others, is it right to do so?

Well, if you are one of those who just wants some good action and killer acting with your popcorn and coke, this movie does just fine.

Rating : 7/10

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