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Movie Review: Elysium (English) 183

Going by the standard Neill Blomkamp set in the Academy Award nominated ‘District 9’, his new offering Elysium’ is a massive let down. While the earlier film had the powerful undercurrent of racism in South Africa, Elysium’s attempt to take on the rich-poor divide comes across as flawed and executed without much thought.

Since, I really don’t predict many people watching this after reading this, I thought of using some liberty to include spoilers in the review. Here it goes:

In the year 2154 (incidentally the same year that ‘Avatar’ is set in), Earth has become overpopulated, polluted and disease ridden. The elite have since escaped to a space-station style colony leaving the poor in a state of appalling healthcare and sanitation standards while they dream of illegal immigration to 'Elysium'.

The protagonist of the story is Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), ex-convict on parole works for a company that makes robots and dreams of saving up to buy a ticket to Elysium. Things get rough after he is exposed to radiation while at work and has only five days to live. He then urges Spider, someone who arranges illegal ships to get him there, in exchange of one last con job, that turns out to be the keys to the kingdom.

Meanwhile on Elysium, Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) rules with an iron hand, much to the disapproval of the rest of the administration. That includes using illegal agents to shoot down spacecraft intruding into Elysium air-space. She then urges a corporate honcho Carlyle to build an illegal program that will install her as President. It is this very program that Max unwittingly ends up stealing from Carlyle.

The film tells us very little about the people in Elysium except that they are on a perpetual holiday. The film makes it appear as if anyone having access to the main program running the system, runs the Elysium and concordantly, all human population. Preposterous! And does it take only a computer program to bring down an administration? So, you see, the audience wouldn't care a damn about Elysium folks.

What about earthlings then? That too, hardly evokes sympathy! In Max's neighborhood, he seems to be the only who cares about working in a proper job. So, what were the others doing? Busy enhancing the population? The view from space shows that the land surface of the planet had lost its greenery. So, how were the people still alive? Didn’t the climate change affect the weather or crops?

Sometimes, the portrayal of earth, with the burgeoning population and issues like crumbling healthcare & sanitation shown in the film, in some way would remind you of how India could look like within a few years if the population kept growing at the current rate and with the rich-poor divide continuing to widen. Shocking nonetheless!

The film is so poorly written that one hardly feels for any of its characters or care about what they seek to represent. Our hero's only motivation to reach Elysium is to fulfill his dream and the urgency comes because he is about to die. And what was Alice Braga's silly role in it? One can remember her equally pointless role in the futuristic 'Repo Men'. And Max's conversation with Braga's kid seems forced.

There are numerous other inconsistencies, like how Max recovers from his injuries, and then the exoskeleton being bolted to his body using big screws and then being stabbed by a knife during fights. He seemed more like Terminator rather than a real human. And he carries the program in chip attached to his head. Duh!

Joining Foster & Damon in the wasted actors list is Sharlto Copley who played the lead actor in ‘District 9’. He plays the mercenary, Kruger. His character seems to have a sudden transition from an illegal, later disavowed mercenary to a President hopeful. What a sudden transition! Surely, this bit could have done with some improvement.

The only thing a movie like this can brag about is special effects and some cool gadgets. The car-like space shuttles are so quick, compact and convenient, powerful weapons that are exceedingly compact. But this is hardly adequate to save the film.

And lastly, let's talk about the ending: The reprogrammed code now considers all Earthlings as citizens and the system dispatches them medical facilities so that they too can live forever, and that too disease free! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the film ends! Seriously, that’s their hare-brained plot. What a waste of time and money!!

Verdict: Elysium may have bagged good ratings; but, please don’t get carried away by it. Even if you are in the mood to leave your brain back home in the refrigerator, this film can still irritate you and make you feel like walking out in between. Avoidable!

Rating 3/10: Stupid film with one-dimensional characters
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