Friday, 23 August 2013


Smell the Movies
Smell the TV


Country of origin:USA
Director:Neill Blomkamp
Genre:Satirical action sci-fi
Starring:Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, William Fichtner
IMDB link:

Tagline:No tagline
Favourite line:
Android Police Officer: "What is in the bag?"
Max: "Hair care products, mostly."

Neill Blomkamp's difficult second album, and it's been a long time coming, with District 9 released way back in 2009.

The plot:
It's 2154, and the Earth is polluted and despoiled. Escaping from the hellish environs, the elite now live above the Earth in a space station called Elsyium, the chosen few who, like the Greek myth the movie plunders for its title, get to live in relative paradise, away from the ravages and tedium of normal life in the realm of the poor.
Max (Matt Damon) is a car thief making good, having turned his back on crime, he now ekes out an existence working in a factory but, always, lurking in the back of his mind, the promise he made to his first true love, Frey (Alice Braga) that he would take her away from it all, and build a better life together on Elsyium.
The victim of an industrial accident, Max finds himself dying of radiation sickness, and has only five days to live. Turning to a human trafficker for help, the criminal offers him a chance for a new life: assassinate a powerful member of the Elysium elite, and earn a one way ticket to the paradise station.
Trouble is, the authorities are onto him and, one in particular, Kruger (the magnificent Sharlto Copley) makes it his mission to end the future plans of Max, and all he has dreamed of.

A worthy successor to District 9, this, containing the same mix of head-slamming action, sci-fi world creation and satirical sideswipes.
Stylistically, this is something of a fusion of Mad Max, District 9 and the works of Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, In Time), a marriage that works spectacularly well, the world created a blend of beauty and utter depravation. On Earth, all is dust and rubble, whilst on Elysium it seems the prime architectural style is one of lush lawn constructs and expansive swimming pools, all set against a backdrop of marble of the purest white.
It's a wonderful juxtaposition and, whilst some have quibbled it is a touch route one, we feel that is slightly missing the point. Listen, Blomkamp is, above all, creating a work of fiction meant to entertain first and foremost and if, as a by-product, he also gets people to think just a little bit, his work is truly done.
In Damon, we have a Hollywood heavyweight at the top of his game, his shaven-headed persona perfectly exemplifying the desperation of a man right on the edge. He's a bit one-dimensional and, truthfully, he's not all that likeable, but he is a perfect cypher through which to pour the abject injustice of life in the world being envisioned.
Sharlto Copley, the hero of District 9, here plays one of the most despicable villains ever seen in a mainstream movie, and every second spent in his company leaves you feeling more and more grimy, the scene in which he makes amorous advances towards Frey one of the most disturbing we have seen in quite some time.
The visuals are amazing, too, from the design of The Raven, Kruger's floating arsenal, to the stark beauty of Elysium itself. Oh, and we haven't even mentioned Jodie Foster, spouting off in French, or the reliably sleazy William Fichtner as the assassination target, an actor whose presence alone in a film should be reason enough to see it.
As sci-fi spectaculars go, this is pretty hard to flaw.
Visually stunning.
Full of pace and vigour and relentless adrenaline.
Politically right on the nose.
It's great, kids.
Go see it.

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