Way back in 2009, Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley absolutely blew me away with their cheap, simple science ficiton hit, District 9. Not only was District 9 one of my favorite films of that year, it somehow merited an Oscar nomination, which totally surprised me and I'm sure many others. I've since seen the film at least 20 times, and, each time, it blows me away. My college literature professor even had us watch the film as part of our course work a couple of years ago (he was a huge sci-fi fan). Needless to say, the film made its mark in my life and really gave science fiction its first hope of actually receiving critical acclaim in a very long time, because we all know that Avatar was an underwhelming attempt at the same. With Blomkamp and Copley both involved with Elysium as well, I could barely contain my excitement for the film. In fact, there was no summer film that I was looking forward to more than Elysium, and that is saying something. So, of course, my hopes were high, even with the mixed reviews and the border line freshness on the Tomatometer.
As far as killing people in unnecessarily gory fashion is concerned, Neill Blomkamp has a chance to quickly become the Quentin Tarantino of science fiction! In Elysium, people were blowing up left and right, as was the case with District 9. Maybe it was a bit too much, but I must say that I really enjoy watching people explode into hamburger meat, as long as the story is obviously false science fiction (not in your case, Quentin!). As evident by my hamburger meat excitement, I did enjoy the action in Elysium, which was very similar to District 9, just on a $100 million scale. On the other hand, Elysium's plot was not quite as moving as the intricate transformation story of District 9. There were so few intricacies to the story that the entire plot became vague and predictable, and there were many things that didn't quite make sense, even in a made up world. However, I still enjoyed it! Maybe I just have some sort of premature love for Blomkamp's films? Who knows! But, there was no point in the entire film that I was not completely wrapped up in the action onscreen, even when I was not being impressed by the storyline...
I like to think that most people have a list of actors whose films they tend to enjoy, even though they are rarely impressed with the actor him/herself. For me, Matt Damon is one of those actors, along with folks like Leonardo DiCaprio and Emma Stone. I just don't ever think of Damon as being invested in the character that he is playing, and his role of Max in Elysium was no exception in my thinking. Hopefully, one day, Damon will blow me away, but, for now, I must continue to wait.
Jodie freakin Foster!!! What happened!!! Usually, in contrast to Matt Damon, I enjoy watching Jodie Foster do her manly-woman thing, but I guess her lifetime achievement thing sucked her acting ability right out of her. Personally, I don't think she was even a bad choice for the role of Delacourt, but she just didn't bring it! Maybe Neill Blomkamp was too scared to correct her or something. Regardless, it was purely awful. There were a few other negatives, but none were on the same level as Foster's, so they will go unmentioned.
Sure, Sharlto Copley is a bit odd, but there is no denying that the man can act. If you've seen District 9, you know how easily he connected to the audience as an innocent civilian. In Elysium, however, Copley's Kruger is completely, 100% opposite of D9's Wikas, and I loved him just as much. Kruger is a hard-nosed, government-assassin type guy, who tends to enjoy creating the aforementioned hamburger meat. Although I have yet to see many of the Oscar contenders that were released this summer, Copley's performance was one of my favorites thus far in 2013. Say what you want, but this guy is impressive!
I know a lot of this review was "in comparison to District 9," making the review less significant to any of you who have yet to see the 2009 thriller. Let this serve as an encouragement to go watch it! If you have any love for movies with underlying meanings that are not so underlying, I promise that you will not be disappointed with District 9. As for Elysium... Even with the weak plot and the weak Jodie Foster, I really liked. Was it anywhere close to perfect? No... But, I was intrigued throughout the entire film, and that is something that rarely happens for me in thriller/action films. Kudos to Blomkamp for continuing to impress. Maybe everyone just set their expectations a bit too high, after the greatness that was District 9. I give Elysium 3.68 out of 5 stars.