8/25/2013

Movie Review: Elysium

I watched this film yesterday night; I was a bit surprised that there were good seats available on the 2nd day...a friend watched it on opening day and he warned not to have high expectations. That was the best advice to help me enjoy the show as much as I could. 

Plot
Set in the future, Earth is the slums and only a privileged few get to stay on Elysium, a space station orbiting Earth. The analogue here: Earth - somewhere in Latin America, Elysium - California with white mansions and lush green lawns. I presume every home on Elysium has a Med-Pod which can heal any injury or illness. Residents on Earth have to rely on hospitals for meds and many don't receive help until it's too late. Droids patrol and police the planet, under the command of Elysian Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (a French villain seems so stereotypical) who is determined to keep Elysium the way it is, even if it means shooting down shuttles bringing illegal immigrants who are desperate to access the Med-Pods. 

We're introduced to Max, an orphan who grew up gazing at Elysium, vowing to take himself and childhood friend Frey up there. Years pass and Max now works at a factory manufacturing robots under Armadyne Corp, while Frey is a nurse at the local hospital. Max has had a history of stealing cars, while Frey tries to stay strong for her young daughter who has leukaemia. In an accident, Max is heavily irradiated, fired from his job and has only 5 days to live. Desperate to stay alive, he contacts Spider to get a ticket to Elysium. In return for the ticket, Max has to help Spider steal information from an Elysian to obtain access to money and codes; Max agrees on the condition that the target is John Carlyle, Armadyne's CEO. 

Unbeknownst to Max and Spider, John Carlyle has agreed to provide Secretary Delacourt with a reboot system that would instate her as the new Elysian President. In the kidnapping ambush, things go wrong and Max has to choose between fighting for his survival or changing the fate of all humans on Earth. Toss in Kruger, a homicidal psychotic mercenary under Delacourt's leash and you've got some creepy moments, loads of action and gore. 

Cast
The best performer in this film is Jodie Foster as Secretary Delacourt. She portrays the ruthless and cold-hearted Delacourt with such passion and enables us to empathise with her character. Matt Damon's performance was fine enough...to the point that I didn't like his character's personality. There wasn't enough time for a gradual change in heart for his character so it seemed a bit forced for me. I did not recognize Sharlto Copley as Kruger, because his role is such a far cry from the endearing Murdock in the film A-Team. Alice Braga's performance as Frey was somehow...convenient in this film, I think her character could've been explored further but I guess the screenwriters wanted to focus on other stuff; I liked her better in Predators. 

Music
Ryan Amon is not a newcomer to scoring music; however this is his first time writing music for a movie, his previous experience was writing music for trailers. Many hailed the music to be "organic", a mix of synthesized sounds and the conventional orchestra. While some parts the music was fine support, there are some parts where it was dragged out too long (especially at the climax) and I felt tired when the scene was done. A more favorable review was written here.

Conclusion
I feel there was so much potential to expand the plot:
- why and how did Earth turn out to be a massive slum?
- how was Elysium created? 
- who is "selected" to be Elysians? 

In the end, it felt too rushed for me, and there were too many stereotypes in the film. Special effects were good; I really liked the design of Elysium. Too many setbacks, not enough time and in the end, I'm glad I didn't enter the hall with high expectations. Verdict? Still better than Twilight, not as good as Oblivion.

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