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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Matt Damon
Jodie Foster
Sharlto Copley
William Fichtner
Wagner Moura
Alice Braga
Diego Luna.
Directors
Neill Blomkamp.
Screenwriters
Neill Blomkamp.
Running Time
109 minutes

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Elysium
It’s like Westfield in space


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Plot
2154. The wealthy have abandoned an exhausted Earth to live on Elysium, a satellite habitat. Max (Damon), an ex-crook, sustains a fatal radiation dose in an industrial accident and has five days to live... unless he can get to Elysium and use advanced medical machines to cure himself.


Review
Elysium
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For his follow-up to District 9, writer-director Neill Blomkamp has again gone for satirical science-fiction. Here, he delivers the classic Aldous Huxley-George Orwell-Ray Bradbury rebel-against-a-monolithic-dystopia scenario, in the muscular, mechanoid-fetish ’80s/’90s James Cameron-Paul Verhoeven action-movie manner.

It’s beside the point that the society shown here isn’t a credible extrapolation of its imagined tech (if the medical machine existed, it would be more likely to create a world like that of In Time, where renewed health is used to keep the labouring poor at work supporting the rich folk). This future is a bitter cartoon of the way things are right now: most of the world lives in squalour — either unemployed or doing dirty, dangerous, ill-paid jobs — while the 2001-look silver wheel Elysium hangs tantalisingly visible in the sky.

It takes guts for a contemporary, Hollywood-backed film to be unashamedly in favour of illegal immigration and socialised medicine — indeed, the plot boils down to sick third-world people desperate to crash into a luxurious superpower (ie: America) in order to take advantage of medical facilities. Watch the Obama hatred ignite on the IMDb comments threads for Elysium to get a sense of Blomkamp’s ambitions in an era when most science-fiction blockbusters can too easily be mistaken for toy commercials or military recruitment films. There’s little to the easy, privileged, lounging-on-the-lawn elite life of Elysium, though Blomkamp gives thought to grubby-handed doers like an icy Jodie Foster and a weaselly William Fichtner, who have to keep the money flowing in and the unwashed firmly out. However, the satirical barbs (which include RoboCop-style polite but murderous law droids) are packed between bursts of bleeding-edge movie action and dollops of soap opera about sick kids and saintly nurses. Alice Braga, the go-to angel of worldwide collapses, repeats the act she did in Blindness and I Am Legend, representing the humane values the compromised hero has to preserve. Sharlto Copley (who seems about two feet taller here than in his other films) is more entertaining as the Worst Of Both Worlds, an Elysium agent who lives on Earth because the world-spanning, rubble-strewn refugee camp gives him more opportunities to kill and ravage.

Using hand-held, grubby, jittery camera style and extremely polished CGI, Blomkamp stages extraordinary, visceral moments: a robot blown apart and disassembled in slo-mo by a percussion grenade, a character having his face grown back after it’s been blasted off. As in District 9, Blomkamp and company really think through the design of this world — the Amstrad-level computer-screen displays, the contrast between sleek Elysium shuttles and grungy people-smuggling ships. It’s gritty and uncompromising in politics, but doesn’t stretch too far in characterisation — Matt Damon is good as a shaven-haired cyborg in an armoured exoskeleton with a flash-drive in his head leaking access codes into his brain, but Max is still a simplistic character. There should be a moment of disappointment when he gets to the place he’s dreamed of all his life and finds it’s just a satellite version of Beverly Hills, but by then we’re too busy in crash-landing shoot-out mode for it to register.
 


Verdict
Not perfect, but a much more satisfying Earth-in-ruins film than Oblivion or After Earth. It is a little more conventional than District 9 (what isn’t?), but confirms Blomkamp as one of the potential science-fiction greats of this decade.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Elysium
Empire Star Rating

RE: Poor

L: Vitamin F Despite the high production values this is just an ok action film - yes, expectation was high following District 9, but even ignoring that gem, Elysium has such a simplistic plot, simplistic dialogue and a general lack of any depth whatsoever that it all feels a little hollow and rushed. It's watchable but entirely forgettable (I seem to think/write this a lot these days, especially regarding scifi) and Copley is wasted on the bad-guy role for the most part. Elysium i... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 22:09, 11 May 2014 | Report This Post


Even though at times, I found this film a little...'off' (Jodie Foster's voice - poor dubbing in places - and her accent as a whole was a little annoying, as well as a flow of the storyline) this was still a feat of a film with an original idea that was shot and filmed in a pleasing way. Fun to watch but no District 9 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 20:51, 28 March 2014 | Report This Post


Errr no

I found district 9 overrated and cold and this is no different. I didn't care for any of the charCters and the bad guys South African accent nearly derailed the movie entirely for me. Some nice effects, elsyium looked good even if it was ripped from mass effect but I probably won't remember this one tomorrow morning. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dfooster at 00:55, 23 January 2014 | Report This Post


Proves What Blomkamp Can Do

District 9 was one small, astonishing step for Blomkamp, Elysium is a bigger, ambitous step. When Blomkamp poked our minds with his incredible debut, most would almost never believe he could top that. For the time being, that's true as unfortunetly Elysium does not match up to it's predecesor. There is still a conterversial theme through-out, and a story that proves Neill Blomkamp is to be taken seriously. However the film is let down by two factors: A rush in direction, and acting that - wi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Keegan Gess at 09:35, 14 January 2014 | Report This Post


Proves What Blomkamp Can Do

District 9 was one small, astonishing step for Blomkamp, Elysium is a bigger, ambitous step. When Blomkamp poked our minds with his incredible debut, most would almost never believe he could top that. For the time being, that's true as unfortunetly Elysium does not match up to it's predecesor. There is still a conterversial theme through-out, and a story that proves Neill Blomkamp is to be taken seriously. However the film is let down by two factors: A rush in direction, and acting that - wi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Keegan Gess at 09:35, 14 January 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Why no dogs?

I take it all back ... More

Posted by RLTShirley at 12:15, 01 January 2014 | Report This Post


RE: bit of a let down

L: FoximusPrime I wondered if she went full Clouseau in the role as her character was French or something wasn't she? She certainly didn't sound English (except occasionally). his. I think they filmed it with her having a strong French accent, the character is clearly intended to be French. I guess it was absolutely rubbish and they got her to re-record her dialogue, dialling back the accent a lot, making it sound more British with a bit of French. We will probably never know as... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 11:05, 01 January 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Why no dogs?

L: RLTShirley There are litterally NO dogs in this movie. I found this very upsetting. I dont think i have ever seen a movie with no dogs in it before and it really distracted me from the plot.I dont know if the director is just predjudice aginst dogs but i think its a real shame that in this day and age hollywood can still make dogless movies.I really think the addition of at least one dog would have made this movie much better, i mean they could have had a dog that like solves crimes... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 10:52, 01 January 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

yeah! plus no dogs ... More

Posted by RLTShirley at 21:22, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

The occasionally interesting script is bludgeoned by its heavy-handed political pandering. ... More

Posted by chang at 09:35, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


Why no dogs?

There are litterally NO dogs in this movie. I found this very upsetting. I dont think i have ever seen a movie with no dogs in it before and it really distracted me from the plot.I dont know if the director is just predjudice aginst dogs but i think its a real shame that in this day and age hollywood can still make dogless movies.I really think the addition of at least one dog would have made this movie much better, i mean they could have had a dog that like solves crimes or something or one tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 01:38, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


Brilliant

My friend and I were blown away by this. It paints a fairly horrifying vision of the future, which disturbingly, isn't that far away from where we are now. What action there is, is fairly satisfying and the film looks and sounds great overall. Excitement builds as each of the protagonists start to cross paths, while the ending isn't exactly Hollywood. It sure was better than Oblivion!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 11:18, 30 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

Very good movie. Sadly never reaches the dizzy heights of District 9, but that is a masterpiece so was always going to be a struggle. Copley was the standout from the film, what a great character and performance. 4 Stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shool at 00:15, 04 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

Excellent film,good addition to the sci-fi family. Damon is decent.Copley is excellent(not a prawn in sight) The whole thing works.Agree with the above,decent original material. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CriticNumberOne at 01:53, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

Re: Jodie Foster's voice, it seemed off the first time I saw it a few weeks ago, but when I saw it the other day I was shocked at how bad the dubbing actually was. Sometimes it's barely even in sync. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 08:24, 02 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Elysium

I agree that it's probably the best of its type this year, After Earth and Oblivion being the other two. Personally I loved the film, it cemented Blomkamp as one to watch whenever I see his name in lights. Also, whilst Matt Damon's performance was good, I thought Sharlto Copley really stole the show in Elysium, very impressed with his performance here. I'd definitely recommend this film for sci-fi fans and actions fans alike. Edit - see other post ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BigScreenBullfrog at 14:39, 27 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: bit of a let down

I wondered if she went full Clouseau in the role as her character was French or something wasn't she? She certainly didn't sound English (except occasionally). ... More

Posted by FoximusPrime at 14:52, 23 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: bit of a let down

L: FoximusPrime L: Cool Breeze Finally got round to watching this and its a solidly entertaining sci-fi action film but is rather forgettable. Terrific fx and action ( didnt mind the shakey cam here really, i could still tell what was going on ) and the most of the cast give good perfromances.Surprisingly, oster, a usually terrific actress is very poor in this and her accent sounded pretty rubbish. stars. his was the one thing I would say was truly poor about the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 14:34, 23 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: bit of a let down

L: Cool Breeze Finally got round to watching this and its a solidly entertaining sci-fi action film but is rather forgettable. Terrific fx and action ( didnt mind the shakey cam here really, i could still tell what was going on ) and the most of the cast give good perfromances.Surprisingly, oster, a usually terrific actress is very poor in this and her accent sounded pretty rubbish. stars. his was the one thing I would say was truly poor about the film. It was just bizarre, and ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FoximusPrime at 11:15, 23 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: bit of a let down

Finally got round to watching this and its a solidly entertaining sci-fi action film but is rather forgettable. Terrific fx and action ( didnt mind the shakey cam here really, i could still tell what was going on ) and the most of the cast give good perfromances.Surprisingly, Jodie Foster, a usually terrific actress is very poor in this and her accent sounded pretty rubbish. 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 22:28, 22 September 2013 | Report This Post


bit of a let down

A mate of mine called this one of the films of the year... err, what!? It's OK, and that's it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 22:42, 12 September 2013 | Report This Post


My shit review of Elysium

According to Sharlto Copley, it is inadvisable to fight a man once his beard reaches a certain length and density as that man is most likely crazy and/or dangerous. This observation has been put to great use for his devastating villain Kruger. Attention to the details makes the world of Elysium, second feature from District 9’s Neil Blomkamp, an extremely engaging one. Set in the year 2154, ‘Elysium’ depicts a future in which the social elite have fled to an artificial ‘habitat’ which orbi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by putthatcookiedown at 19:25, 09 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: WATCHABLE.....

L: ROTGUT Can’t help feeling that Elysium would have been a much more entertaining film frolic had a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger been headlining, because the plot does seem to be very much in the vein of his old knuckle headed classic TOTAL RECALL. bsolutely spot on comparison. I thoroughly enjoyed Elysium in exactly the same way that I thoroughly enjoyed Total Recall. It's silly cartoon fun, but done with real heart and inventiveness, and not meant to be taken too seriously. (I... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 17:56, 07 September 2013 | Report This Post


WATCHABLE.....

Can’t help feeling that Elysium would have been a much more entertaining film frolic had a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger been headlining, because the plot does seem to be very much in the vein of his old knuckle headed classic TOTAL RECALL. Jodie Foster is wasted in a regular cookie cutter chief villain part - but Sharlto Copley’s exo-suit psycho gives good value for money as the unstoppable terminator like nemesis. The ending doesn’t make much sense though – SPOILERS ; i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 13:48, 07 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: What a looker!

"District 9, District 9, District 9!". Jesus can people stop going on about District 9? He's made that already, drop it. Who cares about District 9??? Newsflash. This is a DIFFERENT movie. This film blew me away. Blomkamp is hands down the best action vfx effects director working today. He''s everything Peter Jackson wants to be. Most fun I've had in the cinema in a LONG time. Yes the story isn't the most complex. Yes the characters are simple. But holy crap, this is a fun film. Beautiful ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 23:35, 06 September 2013 | Report This Post


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