Genre: Sci-Fi Action
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-Scenes: This 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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