Monday, August 19, 2013


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Where can I sign up to get that exoskeleton that Matt Damon gets in this one?

Elysium – 4 out of 5

Take one part the writer and director of District 9, add in some Matt Damon who is out to kick some people’s asses and then garnish with a heaping dose of Sharlto “Fucking” Copley and you have yourself an awesome sci-fi tale with a title that sounds like it’s some drug from the future that makes you able to see through time!

Elysium is set in the year 2154 and the world is overpopulated and only two classes exist. You have the unwashed masses living in physical manifestations of filth, despair and poverty on the planet Earth and you have the richest and prettiest people of the world living in a massive space station where everything is kittens and rainbows and sickness becomes a thing of the past thanks to state-of-the-art medbays. On the dustball of hopelessness that is our planet, Max (Matt Damon) is trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow after living a life of crime but life intervenes after an accident leaves him with only days to live. His only hope is getting to the space station Elysium in order to utilize those fancy-smancy medbays. However, only the richest and most elite can get there and all others are shot out of the sky (or space). With the help of some agents of revolution, Max gets himself a killer exoskeleton that turns him into a steam punk minimalist Iron Man and sets out to get himself to Elysium. On the way, he ends up getting some information downloaded into his brain that could end the reign of riches but this information doesn’t go unnoticed by a devious government official; Delacourt (Jodi Foster), and she sends out her most insane and violent agent (Sharlto Copley) in order to bring her that information.

                                                                                  Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Elysium looks like the all-seeing eye of Sauron...but in space!

I really dug Elysium for numerous reasons. First off, I liked the director/writer Neill Blomkamp. Not only does this man have an awesome sounding name but he made District 9 and that film is awesome to the point that words can’t do it justice. So the fact he made this film was enough to get my ass to the theater for this one but the story, the characters and the action were just icing on the cake.  Blomkamp brought in some great camera work that made the scenes on Earth feel gritty, dirty and raw, made the scenes on Elysium look clean and artificial and used some unique camera angles and tricks to make the action seem in your face and almost like a video game. In fact, there’s very little this movie did wrong, in my book.

Right off the bat, I really got behind the story…but I’m wondering if it’s because I would have most definitely ended up as one of those poor bastards on Earth…anyway, the idea that the rich have found another way to elevate themselves above the poor by literally just leaving the planet behind and Major Tom-ing their way to hang out beyond the outer atmosphere was just a cool concept and when you add in the added element of the disrespected urchins below rising up to get a piece of the action, you just have a working formula. Granted, the story had some issues as it tends to shift gears unexpectedly (namely, the film’s main protagonist changes and some characters are thrown in last minute) but I never felt these shifts in the story really did much harm to the film or the enjoyment I had with it. These changes were slightly chaotic but only added to the film, in my opinion.

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
The rich people on Elysium like to take daily flights to Earth where they moon
the poor people.

The movie also offers up some great sci-fi action and gadgets without getting TOO sci-fi-y. Max’s battle exoskeleton thing is presented in a believable way (I even dug the design of it and how worn it look) and, aside from space ships and the cure-all medbays, most of the sci-fi gadgets have a slightly grounded feel to them and they look authentic to the mythology established. Nothing will kill a sci-fi film for me quicker than sci-fi gadgets that are actually a poorly disguised plot device.

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
In suits like that, they can be slapping each other and it would look cool.

And as far as the action…while I wanted more of it, the moments that were delivered were raw and satisfying. The fights were often brutal, bloody and enough to get a nice adrenaline fix. The movie offers up enough flying bullets (including cool ones that can literally explode the air around its target) and explosions to satisfy my action boner but not enough where the film became no story and all fireballs. Plus, the fight scenes between Max and Sharlto Copley’s character of Kruger are wickedly entertaining and awesome!

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
These bullets automatically draw dicks on your face in permanent marker.

The film also has some great and fun characters in it that I was easily able to get behind. Jodie Foster is just wicked and deceitful as Delacourt and her performance matches her icy cold feelings to those that can’t afford yachts (although she was a little strange because she had an accent I, for the life of me, couldn’t put my finger on what it was while I was at the theater—by the way, it was suppose to be a French accent I guess, at least according to Google, but I still found it to be a strange).

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Her serpent tongue must be responsible for the accent.

I also really enjoyed the character of Spider (played by Wagner Moura). Spider is the man that gives Max the means to get to Elysium and Moura played the part excellently as the way he read his lines and performed his part was like watching an artist create. There was an addictive eccentricity to the way he portrayed that man that made me unable to stop watching him.

                                                                                  Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
"Okay...I think this is the front end...I think."

Matt Damon does his job as Max adequately and I enjoyed seeing him go from a reckless, desperate man only thinking about getting himself healed to a man that realizes he holds the opportunity to save millions and, reluctantly, becomes the hero. Max is your basic platelet of the hero’s journey character that doesn’t want to accept his destiny. He is Luke Skywalker, he is Frodo, etc. He’s all these men and that makes Max interesting. Granted, the character isn’t developed as it could be and Damon isn’t firing on all cylinders like we know he can but Damon is still out-acting most of the leading men in Hollywood with this role and Max is far more interesting than some other characters that get spat out in our films nowadays.

                                                                                    Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Now imagine if Jason Bourne got to have that exoskeleton upgrade...

My favorite aspect of the film, without a doubt, had to have been Sharlto Copley. His character of Kruger was just a legitimate badass—and not just because he rocked a great beard.

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
God damn...that beard is deadlier than that sword!

It’s amazing when you realize that Copley didn’t come from the world of acting but starred in the short that would go on to become District 9 as a favor to his friend and colleague Blomkamp. Then, when the feature film of District 9 is released, Copley is brought back and has a big impact on making the film something stellar and he then went on to be the perfect person to be Howling Mad Murdock in The A-Team film (which, and I await being told I’m a “fag” for thinking this, commenters, I actually liked that film). Despite not being an actor, he has shown that he has more talent than some people who were born into the business or performed acts they wish to forget on a casting couch to get their careers. However, I had my doubts that Copley could be a tough guy because he’s such a squirrely little amusing man but the second I saw the trailer (and saw that beard) I realized that there is probably NOTHING that Sharlto Copley can’t do as he made Kruger a psychotic badass that I wanted to see more of in the film.

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
I would seriously pay money to watch a Elysium spin-off/prequel that told
the story of Kruger.

I’m sorry to say this, Matt Damon…as much as I respect and enjoy your work; Copley made the film for me!

                                                 Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Kruger's suit came equipped with a Black Sabbath soundtrack.

Elysium proved to be just an all-around entertaining sci-fi story that I really enjoyed. The story has all the makings of a great future dystopia, the characters are great and the performances are grand…and Sharlto Copley is epic in every sense of being. Neill Blomkamp has another amazing movie on his hands!

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