Monday, 1 September 2014

Elysium – A Sophomore Slump

South African director, Neill Blomkamp, takes a second swing at the sci-fi inflected social commentary he pulled off so well in his first film, ‘District 9’. However, while the similarities are certainly there, ‘Elysium’ is a far clumsier beast.

The year is 2154 and Matt Damon’s factory worker finds himself zapped with radiation in a gross act of managerial negligence. In his few remaining days he sets his sights on Elysium, the space station housing all the upper-class civilians that fled Earth when the going got really bad; a place where he knows he can be cured.

But when a major plot-point involves Damon’s character being brutally bolted into an ass-kicking exoskeleton, you know some of the thought-provoking nuance is being lost. Any message is obscured by the over-indulgent slow motion and shock-tactics gore and, whereas District 9 maintained a delicate balance between the action and the parable, Elysium is left flailing for some sort of social relevance.

But, that isn’t to say that Blomkamp’s eye for stunningly integrated CGI isn’t still intact. The station, in particular, looks beautiful and the colours really sing. So, it’s such a shame that our view of this exquisite architectural feat is limited to a narrow-minded final boss fight.

Sumptuous visuals do little to overcome the flimsy narrative in Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s disappointing District 9 follow-up.