by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

In the 1980s, we had movies like Back to the Future giving us a glimpse of what the 2000s would be like. Here we are and it’s nothing of the sort. But still we have films released portraying a version of the future that is yet to come. How accurate will these films be? If it’s anything like director Neil Blomkamp’s latest film, Elysium, it won’t be the greatest of conditions for those living on Earth. Elysium looks at the future, the evolution of class struggle and the lengths people will go to in order to survive.

It is the middle of the 22nd Century, and the Earth has been abandoned by its wealthiest citizens who now live outside of Earth on a manmade station known as Elysium. There, citizens enjoy the finest things in life with the most up to date technology to the point that disease and viruses are able to be eradicated from a human in moments. Down on Earth, however, those who cannot afford to live on Elysium are tucked away into overly populated cities which are but shadows of what they used to be.

Max DeCosta (Matt Damon) is a citizen living on Earth in Los Angeles. He’s a former car thief who spent time in prison and now is on the straight and narrow, working a factory job and trying to avoid temptation. His best friend Julio (Diego Luna), who once worked with Max boosting cars, is still around, yet the good part of Max’ past returns is Frey (Alice Braga), a childhood friend who is now a nurse. Frey happens to have a daughter with Leukemia and needs to get to Elysium in order to have her daughter saved. Max, after an accident occurs, must also get there to save himself. But getting to Elysium is easier said than done with Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) monitoring those coming in from Earth and her undercover operative / assassin, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), taking care of things on the wealth-abandoned planet.

Elysium has been built up in the trailers to be a futuristic action film, and while this may be true, the action plays a secondary role to the drama that is the life of Max and those who live on Earth. Some pundits have labeled this film as “liberal propaganda,” but is it really? I would disagree. Yes, the film has its class distinction finely detailed, but this isn’t new. The difference in classes has been detailed in many films over the years, so we aren’t breaking any ground here. Rather we see the view from one particular individual on Earth through his eyes, while those living on Elysium, we rarely get a true glimpse into theirs. As for the action alluded to earlier, it’s fairly generic for the most part with one or two “good” action sequences. Again, this film is previewed as an action film but it’s much more.

In terms of acting, the performances, for the most part, are thoroughly enjoyable. It’s always a treat to watch Matt Damon embody something new. With the trailers, one may think of Damon’s character as a “badass” with a superior fighting background, but this is far from the case. And once Max is in need of help, we see a great character change as he struggles for survival, as any human would do. On the other side is Sharlto Copley as the villain. With the film almost setting Max up with a “superhero” type back story, Kruger is the supervillain, and super he is. He brings to mind the darkness from that of 300, with the intensity of Gerard Butler as King Leonidas. You don’t see many bad guys who are up to this level and Sharlto fleshes him out perfectly. Rounding out the “main” cast is Jodie Foster and Alice Braga, who each perform their roles adequately.

Elysium arrives in theaters at the end of the summer blockbuster season, which should help its numbers. The film is paced well and has all of the elements of a great film. The one downside, and this is my opinion, is that this film felt like something that could have been more of a miniseries. And that is not meant as a disrespect, but rather that there is a plethora of good material here, so much more could have been developed had it had the time to do so. What we are given is a film running over two hours in length which builds up to a crescendo and ends with a flourish. A great job but everyone involved with the film. Hopefully the future of man is as good as this film was.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Tell us what you thought about the movie for a chance to win a copy of Elysium: The Art of the Film!


  1. MichaelAugust 13th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I liked the movie overall but the biggest thing I had with it gripe wise was the ending. I felt it was like Minority Report in the sense that big business, powerful people, and rich people as portrayed in the flick would not allow the lower class to prevail and justice for all.

    I also wanted just a tad more Copely, you can never have enough Copely.

  2. Sarah GraceAugust 13th, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I not seen the film yet, but would still like a chance to win art book. I have seen the trailers and read/watched reviews online & TV, it seems like a solid summer hit. Most likely wait till Blu-Ray before I see it, to enjoy all the details in HD, theaters close to me are not so tech advanced… lol! Last I seen a film in theater it was so fuzzy and dealing with ***holes always chatting it up while film was playing. Usually turns out to be a expensive not so fun trip. Maybe if I win, I could just throw my feet up on the table, holding a drink in one hand, enjoy a visually stimulating adventure reading the book, Elysium: The Art of the Film. Thanks for a chance at winning.

  3. Chris MirandaAugust 13th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Everyone watch Elysium If you think The Swedish Chef in robot armor wielding a Katana while beating the shit out of Private Ryan sounds cool. I mean it was just awesome.

  4. BenAugust 14th, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Am I the only one that thought this was a Halo movie when they first saw the trailer? I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there are a lot of things in the trailer that was reminiscent of Halo. There was even something (from reading this article I’m assuming it is Elysium, itself) that looked a lot like a halo ring.

  5. JayneAugust 14th, 2013 at 3:56 am

    It’s not out in the UK until next week, but it looks like something I’d watch … 🙂 Although have hard some mixed reports about it

  6. JustinAugust 14th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Michael: Copley was great. Total different character than his role in District 9. He really brought the character to life and made it his own. I personally think there was just the right amount of him. He was a secondary character to the film but definitely stood out, which is a great thing. Kudos to the script and to him as an actor.

    Sarah: If that’s the case, then yes, wait until it’s on Blue Ray, haha

    Chris: As you said, it was awesome!

    Ben: They are making a Halo movie, and I can totally see how an initial glance at the trailer could put that light on it

    Jayne: If it looks interesting to you, then go gve it a watch. And if my review helped at all, then definitely go 🙂

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