'Elysium' Review: Filmmakers Can Suffer the Sophomore Slump Too

'Elysium' Review: Filmmakers Can Suffer the Sophomore Slump Too


Genre: Sci-Fi Action

Rating: R

Running Time: 109 mins.

Premise: In the future, the wealthy live in an orbiting satellite paradise called Elysium, while everyone else lives on Earth.  When he's exposed to radiation and only has 5 days left to live, Max (Matt Damon) embarks on a mission to break into Elysium to bring equality to both worlds.

Behind-the-ScenesThis is director Neill Blomkamp's second film, and follow-up to the surprise hit (and Best Picture nominee), District 9.  Thanks to the $200+ million worldwide gross of that film, he has a bigger budget (over $100 million) to work with here.  Sharlto Copley, the lead of District 9, re-teams with Blomkamp to play the villain this time around.

The Good: The world-building is strong.  Blomkamp knows his way around the genre, and quickly establishes a clear, politically charged divide between the haves and have nots.  I liked many of the sci-fi trappings, like Max's robot parole officer.  The movie is often visually astonishing, and the realization of the Elysium world is something to behold on screen.

The Bad: The story is an unsatisfying rehash of the best bits of District 9, and never really makes the most of its strong set-up.  The editing is clumsy and rushed, and it treats the audience like short-attention span idiots.  Did Blomkamp take lessons from Michael Bay?  The action is forgettable - fine while it's happening, but doesn't make much of an impression.  By the end, when Damon and Copley have strapped on robot appendages and are having an endless fist fight, I grew tired of the whole thing and just wanted it to be over.  Blomkamp overloads the movie with too many unnecessary subplots - did it really need two sick kids to make the same point?  Last but certainly not least, there's Jodie Foster, playing an Elysium Secretary of Defense.  She reaches a whole new level of bad here.  I don't know what accent she's going for (South African?), but it's terrible and her line delivery is even worse.  I like Foster, but this performance will go down as the worst she's even given.  It's certainly the worst performance I've seen this year.  Like Razzie Award-worthy bad.

Should You See It?: No, and it kills me to say it.  I'm a huge District 9 fan, but this was very disappointing.  Looks like the dreaded sophomore slump that often affects musicians can happen to filmmakers too.

Star Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars.

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