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Movie Review: Elysium

Elysium

The first time you see the trailer for Elysium, you would think it is just another sci-fi movie. Until a scene catches your interest; the one where a beautiful lady walks into her home and lies down in a contraption that looks like an MRI scanner, and the contraption wipes away all traces of illness in her body. You realise that this is something new. That the main dividing factor in the segregation between the rich and the poor as presented in this movie, is that the rich have better health (insurance) options than the poor, a situation which is easily relatable to the world we live in today. After all, good science fiction, according to Peter Bradshaw, a movie critic for The Guardian UK, involves probing the social, political or cultural present to speculate how the future might look and feel.

Also, it did not hurt to see the names of two very popular actors listed in the cast- Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.  However, what probably sealed the deal for this movie and made it a must-see was its director, Neill Blomkamp. His last hit, the infamous District 9, got mixed reviews from movie buffs. It plunged into the intractable issues of racism and immigration, and got movie goers wondering if his new flick had similar themes.

The movie began on a promising note. It opened up with a flashback scene of the hero of the movie running around a decrepit and decaying earth with his childhood sweetheart, promising her that one day he would take her to Elysium, a utopian wheel-shaped planet that hovers above the earth, where only rich people live. Time goes by and he is unable to make good on his promise; instead, he is caught up in trying to work and earn a living (like everybody else). One day, things go wrong at his workplace as an accident causes him to have radioactive cancer and leaves him with five days to live. He finds that he has need of the med-pods at Elysium and wants to get to it. Only, he first has to go through a crazy, bloodthirsty, paramilitary thug whom the Defense Secretary, Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster), has appointed to ‘take care’ of intending Elysium intruders.

Not long into the movie you realise that Blomkamp isn’t really interested in the moral do-goodiness of this movie, but in making things blow up and showing you how fragile and easily destructible the human body is. There is a lot of explosion, blood and gore, but very little attention is paid to what is supposed to be the point of the movie. You begin to ask yourself many questions. Why do the people have varying accents (to depict a world view) yet the whole of earth is comprised of Los Angeles? How come Max has so much stamina for someone who is supposed to have only five days to live? Why are there only white people in Elysium? – another contradiction to the world view – which in a ways hints at a racist theme as depicted in Blomkamp’s District 9. If the rich have no problems, sickness or hunger, what do they have to live for? How is their population controlled if no one is dying?

At the end of the film, after all the fighting, it is revealed that Matt Damon was supposed to be the saviour of the poor earth people who couldn’t get medical attention. There are no dots to connect to this. For some inexplicable reason he was able to make everyone classify as citizens of Elysium, thanks to some code that he stole from an Elysium citizen that was intended to overthrow the Elysium president. It doesn’t make sense; perhaps, the movie wasn’t made to make sense. It is plausible the producers intended to thrill audiences with gory images of blood-drenched bodies blown up and riddled with bullets.

Duration: 109 mins

Genre: Drama, Science fiction and Fantasy

Rating: 7.1/10    (Rated R)

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