Neill Blomkamp has established himself as one of the most exciting directors in the world.
The year is 2154, two classes of people exist, the very wealthy – who live on a man-made space station called Elysium – and the poor, who live on an overpopulated ruined Earth. Neill Blomkamp’s dysoptian new movie, starring Matt Damon, is shiny, slick action movie that has somewhat divided critics, however, it is unanimously agreed that Elysium is one of the better action films of the year and Blomkamp appears to be pulling away from the peloton of directorial mediocrity and into the highest possible class.
In the movie, the people of Earth are clearly desperate to escape their poverty and reach ‘Elysium,’ which boasts state-of-the-art medical care, however, the privileged enforce strict anti-immigration laws in order to preserve their citizen’s luxurious lifestyle.
Damon comes into the equation as Max, an ordinary guy who is in desperate need to reach Elysium and so takes on a dangerous mission that pits him against the higher planet’s Secretary Delecourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces. Should he succeed, he will save millions of lives.
It all sounds great, fantastic in-fact, and most critics agree that Blomkamp is truly making fresh, perhaps revolutionary, cinema.
“Elysium makes clear that Blomkamp is a genuine visionary who's trying to push the envelope of possibility in mainstream popcorn cinema,” said Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com.
“Mr. Damon brings both a weary optimism and convincing physicality to Max, who is no revolutionary. He just wants to live, and is willing to don an exoskeletal combat suit and fight robots to do it,” said John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal.
“Damon's presence greatly alleviates the been-there feel of this Elysium excursion, which starts to run out of steam when the usual explosive heroics kick in,” wrote Peter Howell of the Toronto Star.
There are some disgruntled critics, including Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, “Although the pulp energy that Blomkamp brings to this material makes it consistently watchable, the film doesn't feel as singular as we would have hoped.”
“There are occasional clever moments in Elysium, but overall it's a film on a mission and subtly be damned,” said Rebecca Murray of About.com.
Still, the consensus is clear: Elysium is an accomplished sophomore effort from Blomkamp and perhaps most importantly hints are greater things to come. However, there is always the worry that the South-African peaked with his debut, District 9.
Exploring ideas of humanity, xenophobia and social segregation, the movie was shot for just $30 million though made well over $200 million worldwide. It focused on an extra-terrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth and won rave reviews across the board, as well as an Oscar nomination.
Tom Huddleston of Time.com said at the time, “Perhaps we're witnessing a new dawn for politically engaged sci-fi and horror, with Blomkamp as a latter-day George Romero. Either way, this is a stunningly impressive debut.”
Elysium hits theaters in the U.S from today (Friday, August 9, 2013).
Neill Blomkamp As Done It Again With 'Elysium'
Sharlto Copley Stars in 'Elysium'
Diego Luna At The 'Elysium' Premiere
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