A Writer’s Take on Film – Elysium

elysiumIn the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max, an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.

I saw the trailer for Elysium months ago, and the sci-fi geek in me settled in to wait impatiently for the premiere. Well, the day finally came. I went to see Elysium this past weekend and I’m sad to say I left the movie extremely disappointed.

Spoiler alert.

At a high level, this is a film about the ever increasing chasm between the rich and the poor – taken to the extreme. The rich have abandoned earth and headed for the stars, taking all their cool toys and much advanced technology (at the heart of which is an instantaneous healing gizmo) with them. The initial third of the film kept my interest piqued, as we get a glimpse into the new Earth, a few cool but brutal robots, and childhood years of our main character – unfortunately, we don’t learn what happened to his parents, but I was willing to go along with that. And then, an accidental radiation blast at work sends our protag on a quest to make it to Elysium within 5 days to cure himself. There is some nonsense budding about his childhood love interest(?), having a daughter who also needs healing that is introduced as well.

It was after our protag was fitted with the exoskeleton that they lost me. First, there was no sense of wonder. There was no testing of the boundaries, no rules established: what does this thing do, how strong does it make me, what are its limits, and on and on. From there, the movie turns into a series of unlikely events, including our protag downloading sensitive data from his former boss that Secretary Delacourt is planning to use to oust the president.

We then progress through the typical and overdone storyline: girlfriend captured, bad guy goes kinda nuts, implies he wants to rape the girlfriend (and another friend does the same just for good measure), the bad guy is ALSO fitted with an exoskeleton, they fight (and those great robots from earlier in the film…disappeared), protag wins, sacrifices himself, blah, blah, and blah.

I believe the fact that I’m a huge Matt Damon fan is the only thing that prevented me from falling asleep – that and the great reclining chairs and tasty popcorn.

My wait for the next great sci-fi film continues…

4 thoughts on “A Writer’s Take on Film – Elysium”

  1. Just tell me you liked Elysium more than Wolverine 2. I agree with you to a point. I thought the movie was pretty decent. My wife thought it sucked and she’s a huge sci-fi fan like you are. Yes it was predictable but it wasn’t boring. The pacing and the action kept you interested to stay wake, unlike Wolverine 2.

    1. I haven’t seen Wolverine 2 yet, but have at least heard good things about it. I also agree that it wasn’t boring, but thought there was so much more the writers (or directors, sometimes thing change from page to screen) could have done so much more. What about Pacific Rim, have you seen that one?

  2. I agree, the movie wasn’t boring, but the second and third act needed some TLC. What about the social commentary? This movie had a opportunity to touch on topics such as the rich against the poor and race. I kept waiting for some intelligent dialogue, that would highlight these subjects, but it never happened. I wish the director and writer would’ve taken the opportunity touch on certain crucial aspects of our society.

    1. Good point, there was absolutely no real meaty dialogue about a pretty big issue. In this type of film, you need commentary from both sides of the coin, real two dimensional characters that can highlight the complex set of emotions one must experience living in a split society: gratitude, guilt, envy, fear, etc.

Comments are closed.