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'Elysium' - an exciting space-fantasy thriller

Click for a larger imageStarring Matt Damon and Jody Foster Elysium brings together two top stars in a science fiction film by South African-born director/writer Neill Blomkamp. Given a bud- get of $115  million - estimated by TriStar Pictures, Blomkamp wrote the script and said “No, this isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now.”

The director’s outlook is somewhat gloomy, considering the theme of the picture is what happens to earth in 2154. Not a pretty picture at all. The earth is ravaged -- when isn’t it in a sci-fi film? -- and living conditions are dreary for the ordinary human being. But wait! There’s hope for the wealthy! There’s a high-tech space station lurking by that is like Utopia. Not only that, but there are miraculous machines that can cure diseases and make everyone like new. Naturally, those lucky enough to have the money to live there do not want any immigrants to clutter up the place. All those who try to penetrate the space station are brutally turned away.

Enter Matt Damon. There has to be a big star to abuse, sock in the nose, and terrorize. After all, the studio has to justify those big bucks they pay him that bloat the budget. Unfortunately, he plays an ex- con named Max DeCosta who has an accident in the factory where he works. The industrial incident has infected him with cancer that can only be cured by one of the miracle medical machines on Elysium.

No one is allowed on Elysium unless they are citizens of the space module. Naturally, Max is determined to get to the satellite and get cured. He has only five days and will do anything it takes. One attempt is made to kidnap a billionaire (William Fichtner) and steal his identity code to enter the utopian space.

None of this can be done today without voluminous amounts of computer gadgets and lots of wires and switches. Max’s best friend Julio (Diego Luna) is the computer nerd, along with the help of Spider (Wagner Moura). In a cringe- inducing scene Max has a computer memory drilled into his head to protect secret codes.

Adding to the complications Max reconnects with his boyhood crush Frey (Alicia Braga) and her little girl Matilda (Emma Tremblay). The girl is suffering from terminal leukemia and must also get to Elysium for a cure. Braga plays her role as a nurse with confidence and authority. Braga’s actions and concerns for her daughter’s welfare feel sincere.

Action scenes are liberally sprinkled throughout the film, but there is also some heart peppered within due to the little girl’s dilemma and the past that Max and Frey shared as kids. If a normal person endured the beatings, pummeling, and smashing that Max suffers, he would end up in traction for a decade. But Damon comes through with some scratches, a stab wound, and a few bruises. All this after he suffers a brutal attack by a ten foot high robot. Damon must have been sabotaged by the hair stylist after having his noggin shaved to a very unattractive nub.

Oscar® winner Jody Foster is Delacourt, the Secretary of Defense of Elysium, and she’s a mean one. She conjures up a coup to rid the space habitat of its president so she can take over. Foster always commands the screen, and this is a good part for her to show her screen power to advantage. Delacourt does not want Max to reach the station to cure his cancer, so she pulls out all of her power to kill anybody who gets near. Foster is tough, nasty, authoritative, and wonderful in her CEO-type part. It’s good to see her after a long break off the screen.

Elysium is actually quite an enjoyable film with good actors. The production design by Phil- lip Ivey (District 9) excellently captures the ravaged cities on earth (filmed in the poor sections of Mexico City) and the beautiful, Beverly Hills- type suburban green areas on Elysium.

The special effects by Industrial Light and magic and Imagine Engine capture or surpass the best screen images now available. The flying vehicles are advanced in design, yet meet the requirement that they look well-used and rough around the edges. The movie should please all Matt Damon fans, and
sci-fi lovers should be delighted.

Reel Facts


TriStar Pictures

Gazette Grade:

for strong bloody violence and language

Who Should Go:
Damon fans, and sci-fi lovers.

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