So you gorehounds are going to love this. The gore effects are very inventive, and so are most of the kills. I couldn’t really understand why this was rated R, going into the film. But after the action heats up, you start to understand. Lots of cool weapons, cool gore, and amazing kills. Really, you MUST see what a gun called a “ChemRail” does to human tissue. It’s not pretty!
But that’s not the only reason to check this out. It has a great story, versatile cast, and finely tuned special effects as well.
Neil Blomkamp’s last film “District 9″ was a fantastic piece of sci-fi (and now that I think about it…had some “body horror” elements as well) and did reasonably well at the box office. It was an allegory for his childhood, dealing with apartheid. “District 9″ had a social message, and “Elysium” is no different. One of my qualms with the film, is it almost shoves the ideals that it represents down your throat. Hey, Neil. I already feel the same way you do. You don’t have to convince me with violence gore, and heavy handed themes. It’s pretty obvious that the film deals with social issues like health-care, and immigration reform. I understand that it’s pretty clever to throw these kinds of themes into an ultra-violent action-fest, but I think it could have been a little more subtle.
That being said, “Elysium” is about Max (Matt Damon) who lives on Earth. Earth has become a wasteland, and the rich and powerful have moved off-world to a space station called Elysium, where people no longer die from health ailments. They have med-bays that repair their bodies (even severed limbs and faces, which you see later), so even cancers have a cure. You must be a “citizen” to live on Elysium, and to use it’s amenities. If you live on Earth, you pretty much have a death sentence if you become ill.
Max works in a factory, and gets hit with a fatal dose of radiation poisoning. Given only 5 days until his internal organs fail, and he dies, Max realizes that he has to get to Elysium at all costs.
Damon kicks ass, as usual. He isn’t just a muscle-bound hero, he also has depth. But considering his past career choices, I wouldn’t expect anything less. We also have Jodie Foster (as the Defense Minister/secretary) in a completely wasted role. She has a real opportunity to be a sinister character, and she doesn’t play it up at all. Foster missed an excellent chance to create a really diabolical antagonist, and for whatever reason, decided to just be bland.
Sharlto Copley ( from District 9 fame) on the other hand, nearly steals the show as the morally bankrupt government hitman Kruger. Copley really demands attention, and plays the role viciously, and perhaps a bit unhinged. Kruger is a cold blooded, scary character. Considering Copley’s character in “District 9″ was a big wuss, it’s great to see him playing a malicious sociopath. I think he’s an actor to watch, because he is going places if he keeps honing his chops.
Like I said before, it’s not really a horror film per se. But it is gory, and full of dystopian sci-fi themes. In the same way that “Robocop” wasn’t a horror movie, but horror fans really liked it. “Elysium” has a dark, gritty vibe that I think will appeal to lots of horror fans. It’s really hard to believe that this is just Neil Blomkamp’s second major release.