Last night Vanessa and I rented Elysium on DISH PPV. We have a couple of PPV coupons, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have paid the $6.99 to rent it in HD (have on demand prices always been this high? There’s a Red Box across the street, but it is easier to just push a button and begin watching a movie I suppose). The concept of Elysium is in a way similar to Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia. Elysium is a space station that orbits Earth where all of the rich and powerful live. There’s green grass, trees and beautiful buildings everywhere. Everyone wears nice clothes, eats nice food and has free healthcare that can cure any disease (or even broken bones). Meanwhile Earth has become a slum. It’s dirty, people work dangerous blue collar jobs as the rich look down on them from a glass enclosure counting their earnings.
The film is not only a sort of commentary on class division (the 1% living in Elysium, the 99% down below with no way to rise up) but also of immigration. Elysium’s ruling members make certain that no one from Earth invades their paradise. Those who try to enter Elysium in “undocumented” transport ships are shot at or arrested by Homeland Security and deported immediately back to Earth. Not even dying children are allowed to reap the benefits of the miraculous med bays that can cure any ailment in a matter of seconds.
All of this is interesting, yet there are some weird things about the movie that bugged me. Matt Damon’s character’s mechanical exoskeleton device really felt out of place. It didn’t really seem to make him any more powerful than he was to begin with and only seemed to serve as an excuse to throw in some hand to hand combat with robots and a final battle with another character wearing a similar suit. Ultimately the story felt a little cliched, especially the ending you could see coming from a mile away. If you hadn’t guessed what Max’s destiny would be after the first 15 minutes or so the story of the meerkat and hippo makes sure you won’t be surprised by the ending at all.
There are some decent action scenes in the movie, and a few grotesque fleshy explosions, but ultimately the movie is nothing special. When the movie poster calls out District 9 you’d expect more from the movie. Ultimately it’s just a typical action movie that tries to be something more.