Elysium

So, to be totally honest I had no idea about this film before I watched it yesterday. I’d sort of seen it mentioned a few times but never really caught any trailers, and well the poster doesn’t really give you much to go on other than it looks like an action film.

It’s not really a film I would have really picked to see on my own, I honestly don’t tend to watch much stuff that’s higher than a 12a rating. And I’m not really a big fan of distopic settings. Mainly as it just seems they are rather overdone.

But I had no expectations for this film, and I was pretty pleasently suprised by the end of it.

Please note: The following review contains spoilers, please proceeed with caution.

The film doesn’t really introduce anything new to the table. Pretty standard plot. Humans have essentially destroyed the earth, the rich people live in a luxury space station and the people on earth live in squalour. The people living on Elysium have access to everything they could want, including medical technology that can heal just about anything.

People from Earth are always trying to get to Elysium, with little success. And we focus on one person who is always dreaming to get to Elysium.

Elysium as I said isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but I found it an entertaining enough movie that kept my attention and also didn’t seem to drag out like some films do. I didn’t have any moments where I felt the film should’ve ended before it did and it seemed to time stuff up well and wrap it up without leaving any massive plot holes.

From a visual standpoint the film is pretty impressive. I really liked the design work for the ships and droids. Earth is basically shades of brown with grafitti everywhere, Elysium is shiny, bright and white.Now, the main thing I was quite impressed with with Elysium is they actually show the world is diverse. I’ve found a lot of science fiction where humanity has gone to the stars and lives in the stars that somehow the universe is completey white, which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t be the case.

When we’re on Earth in the film, we are in what was LA so as you probably could imagine there’s a lot of Hispanic and Black characters, not just in the background quite a lot of the important characters in the film are this. Elysium space station is also pretty diverse, and very impressivly the President of Elysium is Indian.

Most of the ‘good guys’ in the film are non-white, one of the villians, Kruger is South African, and yet again like I said in my Lone Ranger review I’m not really in a place to speak about any unfortuante implications on this being the case. He’s not really anything new in terms of a villian, just your general really freaking creepy, Terminator-esque killer. But he’s a pretty good villian, the actor was quite good at giving me an unsettled feeling.

Our protaganist, Max. He’s not a hero, he has no great desire to save the galaxy he just wants to get to Elysium. He’s done some pretty bad stuff to get by but now he’s just trying to make a living and get to Elysium. But then after a horrific accident which leaves him with just five days to live he’s desperate. So he takes a job, one job that should get him a ticket to Elysium,  but it goes wrong, killing his best friend in the process.  And so he becomes even more desperate, desperate enough to throw himself in with the badguys to get himself there. Because he just doesn’t want to die.

He meets his childhood friend Frey, and finds out about her daughter she wants to get her to Elysium. Normally this where our hero would jump to the call. Not Max, he leaves as he doesn’t want to drag Frey into this. But she does get dragged into this, and so his focus changes to helping her and then making it so Elysium can help everyone.

Max isn’t the most indepth of characters, but he is very human. He’s desperate and just doesn’t want to die. Like most of the people stuck on Earth. He’s not a hero, the only character who I’d say runs close to being a hero is Spider, the one who keeps making the attempts to smuggle refugees onto Elysium.

There’s two important female characters within the film, one being Frey, Max’s childhood friend. Frey unforutantley sort of falls a bit into the ‘object’ catergory again. Despite the fact the film opens with a flashback of them as kids and all this ‘We’ll get us to Elysium’ stuff I didn’t feel there really was much between her and Max. Frey doesn’t really get much to do in the film other than Max meets her in the hospital and finds out she’s back in LA. We find out she’s a nurse, she gets one slightly sassy line of dialogue, we meet her termnially ill daughter, she helps out Max before he escapes again. Frey and her daughter get kidnapped during the film, Kruger at one point makes references to her becoming his ‘wife’ complete with really creepy hair sniffing.  she gets threatened and there is a point where it seems highly implied she will be assualted until Max saves her at the last moment.

I am not going to label Frey a weak female character. Yes she’s not a very ‘active’ character she doesn’t get to kick anyones butt or take names. But she’s not in a state to do that, she gets kidnapped and her main motivation within the film is caring for her daughter and trying to find a way to get her healed. Simply put. Frey is a mother, and that actually in my opinion makes her quite a strong person. She’s a mother living within an absolute hell hole trying to look after her daughter. She may not fight, she may not be typically tough but she is not weak.

The other female character within the film with any importance is Elysium’s Defence Secretary, Delacourt. Delacourt is someone who is a violent extremist, who is focuses on keeping Elysium safe from harm. In this case it means taking out shuttles of desperate refugees through very violent means. Delacourt’s actions are not met with approval from the council on Elysium, simply put she is not happy about this and so she decides that she would do a much better job running the station, and so she plots a technological based coupe to do so. She’s calcuating, manipulative and rather in my opinion terrifying. But in her dying moments she seems to regret what she did.

The only other villian, is Caryle. He’s the owner of a big cooporation who manufactures tech. He hates being on the Earth. He’s without any compassion for the humans on Earth. And after Max’s accident he’s more concerned abouyt the dent in production rather than the fact one of his employees is dying.

This film is quite gory. However, I found the combat gore wasn’t too bad to watch. However I was rather uncomfortable in a few scenes that involved sort of medical based gore, but that’s my own personal squick point. Not suprisingly there’s a lot of swearing in the film but honestly that doesn’t really bother me.

The film does have some moments of humour. One rather good example being Max speaking with a ‘parole officer’

It’s very much a human based sci-fi story. From what is indicated in the film most of those looking to get to Elysium are not doing so out of jealousy or greed. They are doing it so they can be healed.  The film honestly does reflect on a lot of common themes at the moment such as the one percent and other class issues, health care and immigration which does make it strike just close enough to the bone to be a bit unsettling.

I sort of worked out the ending of the film pretty quickly, so when there was the big heroic sacrafice moment, it didn’t really suprise me. However, the film ends on a good optimistic note.

So all in all, entertaining enough, diverse cast, impressive visual design and worth a watch.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CMrok93
    Aug 22, 2013 @ 21:18:36

    Despite featuring plenty of promise that it sadly doesn’t live up to, it’s still fun and thrilling enough to be watched and enjoyed. Good review.

    Reply

  2. June
    Oct 05, 2013 @ 04:18:53

    I liked this review, but I have to say it: Frey was a weak character. I really weak character. Her main defining traits were “nurse” and “mother.” When she is locked in the room with dead Delacourt and her passed out daughter, instead of picking up one of the many useful objects in the room that the camera pans over multiple times (that could have been used as weapons) she just sits there on the floor. Despite the fact that she and her daughter are in danger, and all three of her male captures have made vague “I want to rape you,” passes at her. Once she’s rescued by Max they walk past an entire wall of guns, and she doesn’t grab one. I mean, they were in an armory for god’s sakes.

    Talk about completely inactive female character only there to be the “perfect woman” so that the male main character can have his character arc.

    Reply

    • starrypawz
      Nov 02, 2013 @ 07:47:33

      Okay maybe weak wasn’t the right term to use. She’s ‘weak’ in the sense she doesn’t have much agency in the film/doesn’t get to do much/isn’t well developed (but no on in that film is), but her not taking ‘physical’ action to defend herself was why I was hesistant to use the term weak.

      Reply

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