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on August 11, 2013
Not quite 5-stars but it's ambitious, fast, thrilling and at times fantastic.

The visuals deliver the goods, just amazing, with a tip of the hat to the gritty look and feel of District 9. Also, and this is key, the fight and action scenes are intense and immersive. You feel like you are in them as you watch.

The plot is the classic Hollywood story split, and suspension of disbelief is a must to get the full ride from this movie. Part of the story takes place on Elysium , a highly secure, space habitat for the rich and wealthy. The other part of the story takes place on a wild and hairy 2154 Earth A.D. These stories evolve on their own and then merge to get the sparks flying.

The acting is solid as you would expect. Everyone gives pretty tight performances that help make the movie that much more entertaining.

In all, good sci-fi entertainment, that does what good sci-fi does: use the future to make you think about the present. It's a solid follow-up to District 9 for this director.

And also, whatever your political beliefs are, set them aside and enjoy. The Day the Earth Stood Still, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, A Clockwork Orange, Starship Troopers all posed a possible future based on the filmmaker's imagination. I didn't have to agree or disagree to enjoy them. I enjoyed them because they were great stories, great movies.

I look forward to more.

Enjoy!
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VINE VOICEon November 17, 2013
I don't mind brainless sci-fi. Sometimes it's nice just to have something cool to look at for awhile. Also, I have no problem with movies that moralize. It's great to question things, propose new ideas, or just point at injustices in the hopes of raising awareness. I DO, however, have a problem when a movie ends up being both, especially since a lot of the time it ends up accidentally trivializing something I usually already care about. Case in point: Elysium.

The story concerns Max, a reformed criminal who lives in a futuristic, devastated Los Angeles. The world, ravaged by pollution and overpopulation, is now filled with nothing but the poor and lower classes. If you're lucky, like Max, you have a job. In his case, he works for Armadyne, the company that produces the robots that police and monitor the world. All of the wealthiest people in the world, meanwhile, have created Elysium, a utopian space colony in orbit high above Earth, where they live in unbelievably crystalline splendor. They also have these magical beds that can instantly cure any disease or ailment in a matter of seconds. The poor folk on Earth, of course, must deal with second-rate health care that, while seemingly public, is dismissive and half-hearted. When an accident at work gives Max less than a week to live, he dons a superstrong exo-skeleton and undertakes a mission to make it to Elysium to get to one of those magic, medical beds. During the course of his mission, he finds his own selfish views challenged by corrupt senators, mind-bogglingly cute kids with leukemia, and a helter-skelter style military strong-arm named Kruger.

Visually appealing with some stunning action sequences, the movie is a popcorn muncher from nearly the first frame (although I'm leaving out the first five minutes of clunky Hallmark-style exposition and character development, much of which involves a nun). Directed by the same guy who gave us the rousing and engaging District 9, the pacing, framing, and cinematography is pretty much top-of-the-line.

The problem is that the script is about as heavy-handed as that big stone guy from The NeverEnding Story. The symbolism has got all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and when you step back and really think about the story, there's a whole lot that doesn't make sense. For instance, it's never clear why these medical beds are hoarded on Elysium. Do they use an excessive amount of power or resources? Is it considered economically or socially better to have the bulk of your citizenry in a state of malnourishment and filth? Do they break down easily? It automatically classifies the Haves of the movie as heartless and selfish for no real, good reason. Furthermore, the Haves are totemized in the cold, unforgiving character of Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster doing ... well, whatever kind of accent she was aiming for, the result was awful and distracting). Ms. Delacourt's machinations tend to be completely nonsensical as well. I won't give too much away, other than to say that some of her behavior hinges on the fact that Presidents, in this future, can be displaced by rebooting computer programs. It'd be like waking up one day and discovering that Sarah Palin is the President instead of Obama. "But how? Why?" we'd ask. "This computer says she is," they say. "Oh. Okay, then."

Huh?

Obviously a morality play about apartheid, social divisions, the economic gap, and human rights, the movie takes a message that I tend to agree with and makes it so cartoonish and implausible that it almost seems to be making fun of it. The action, the 'splosions, the cool fight scenes, and the various swooping, wooshing, clanking destruction of it all makes for some fun, mindless viewing, but when the movie tries to prove that it does have some kind of brainwave, it gets both in-your-face and nearly incomprehensible. In other words, the seriousness of the film has as much brassy, crazy fire as the shallower elements, making it all seem rather patronizing.

Try not to think too hard about it, and you might enjoy yourself, but be warned. When it's not dazzling you with its pyrotechnic skill, the movie WILL try to get you to think. That's probably the point when you should get up for more popcorn.
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on January 11, 2016
This movie is OK, but it should have been much better. The whole movie is terribly flawed, the worst flaw being that there was no real driving force here. The one pass, total heal, no maintainance super heal would have never been restricted in the first place. It had NO COST. If this thing was expensive or had some terrible price to pay, well maybe. As it stands, the machine would have been healing everyone to maintain the workforce. There is no reason for it to have been restricted so there is no real driving force. No sympathy.
The acting is marginal. There is no explaination why Daimon needs the suit at all. This movie is a combination of several interesting ideas thrown into a mess.
Luckily for us, it is at least, watchable.
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on June 7, 2015
Before going on, I had had many reviews and thoughts on this movie. The most resounding criticisms I heard was that this movie was not as good as District 9, and that it was big on action, but small on social commentary. Personally, I did not see it in these terms. As far as I was concerned, the movie had plenty to offer in the way of social commentary, it was just that it was rather heavy-handed and obvious about it.

All throughout the movie, much is made about the divisions between those who live in orbit and those who live Earthside. The fact that people below will risk life and limb to get to Elysium, and that Secretary Rhobes is willing to kill to keep them from doing so, is also demonstrated without a lick of subtlety. And just about everything else, from titles (“Homeland Security”), settings, anecdotes, and use of language (English, French, Spanish), serve to underline this.

The issue here isn’t that the movie lacks in social commentary, it’s that Blomkamp chose to spell it out for the audience. This is not to say that the commentary isn’t effective – though obvious, the points raised are valid and need to be made. Immigration, health care, privilege, and the distribution of technology based on wealth; all of these are relevant concerns are likely to get even more so as climate change becomes more of a problem.

And since this last bit was a central part of the plot, it was certainly not lost on me. And the action was good. Real good. Like action-porn good! Between the exoskeleton’s, futuristic guns, drones, aerospace vehicles, guided missiles, explosive devices, cybernetics, and fistycuffs, Blompkamp once again demonstrated his ability to make sci-fi geeks croon and drool!

And then there were the visuals, which were also very compelling and breathtaking. Between the extensive, sprawling slums of Earth (clearly inspired by the shantytowns of Johannesburg), Elysium’s beautifully rendered rotating frame and artificial atmosphere, and the robots, souped up cars, and spaceships of this movie, everything looked pretty damn cool and kick-ass!

It was just too bad Neill didn’t let the scenery and plot tell the story and felt the need to repeatedly tell the audience what it was all about. Overall, I give this movie a solid 8 out of 10. Most of that is awarded for action, effects and visuals. but it’s still an 8!
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VINE VOICEon January 2, 2014
This is an exciting sci-fi film about a time in our future when the "haves" live above the Earth in an orbital habitat as citizens of Elysium, with luxury, longevity, and excess. On Earth, life is hard, and the character played by Matt Damon suffers dangerous working conditions, uncaring bosses, and bleak prospects.

Worldwide, however, it seems that the desire to have admission to the benefits of Elysium is primarily because citizens have access to a miraculous medical technology that will, in seconds, cure cancer, restore lost limbs, and probably do a tummy tuck. When Damon's character is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, his new focus is to r each Elysium, and to do that, he must work with an underground project to open wide Elysium's computerized gates. However, a team of assassins is sent to capture Damon's head (another story angle) and protect the gates. These bad guys are pretty bad.

Lots of interesting sci-fi technology and action. There are also some huge logical holes in the plot, but I still enjoyed the movie.
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on January 17, 2014
It's going to be hard for me to give anything less than 3 stars to a creative Sci-Fi film. Solid performance here overall. Not something I would watch over and over but I will watch again. If you like Sci-Fi, you'll like this. If you're not into Sci-Fi, you'll like it too but probably not as much as someone who is in to Sci-Fi flicks. I've heard a lot of talk about this from people suggesting there's a political message here. I think you'll find a political message in any movie if you're looking for it. I didn't see anything suggesting that this had a primary political agenda.
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on December 31, 2013
Very solid futurist thriller. The CGI and violence was very well done. Action kept up the whole movie and never a dull moment. Jodie fosters character was pretty bland and nothing spectacular but as always Matt Damon was on point.

Story was pretty straight forward, not much depth but luckily no movie breaking plot holes. Although character development was quickly established, it still didn't feel rushed or forced. It was to the point and the characters still had personality.

The ending went as I figured it would but still didn't hurt the movie at all. There was no over the top Hollywood cheesiness. Battles were intense and fairly lifelike. Explosions and bullets looked and felt real.

It's not a movie I'm dying to watch again but it will be one that when I do, I'll enjoy it just as much.
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on June 26, 2016
While not a perfect movie (none are), Neill Blomkamp brings a somewhat fresh approach to the Hollywood machine. His movies so far are always based in South Africa, which brings with it a unique culture not really known to most of America, and is a place that definitely has it's own stories to tell.

It should be noted that the ultraviolet copy that comes with the bluray actually comes with both District 9 and Elysium, which is a nice bonus.
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on January 30, 2014
Elysium has an IMdb 6.7 which is not shabby, It's worth seeing and has a lot of redeeming qualities. It is better than just "okay" and has more "I like it" moments than "I don't like it" moments but not enough to give it a general recommendation. If you liked District 9, you will probably like Elysium. If you thought Oblivion was 1,000% better than District 9, you should skip Elysium.

Some reviewers incorrectly criticize the acting. The acting is actually the most redeeming factor of Elysium. Matt Damon and Jodi Foster put in stellar performances as does the villain Kruger played by Sharlto Copley ("Wikus" from District 9) who is clearly a super talented actor showing two great performances of very different characters.

Jodi Foster does a great job of being an elitist snob who speaks with an Elysium accent which is cleverly chosen to be based on French. This shows someone involved with the script is educated. Historically, French is the language of the elitist classes. Until relatively recently the English nobility including the Monarch spoke French at Court and among themselves to be aloof from the common people.

The problem with Elysium lies with the lack of character development, weak science fiction and excessive action sequences, not the acting.

The premise of the story is excellent as is the cast and production values.The elements of a great sci-fi drama/adventure film are all there but are not put together properly.

The Frey + Max romance is not developed at all. There is a notion of a childhood friendship but not a romantic relationship. Yet, the commitment required for someone to help as much as Frey did has to be either strong friendship bond or romantic. And then 3/4 into it, Frey turns into an opportunist -- not a friend or a lover.

Frey's demands for Max to take her daughter with him show she doesn't care about Max and just wants Max to heal her daughter (from some other relationship that is never explained). So the warm feelings for Frey get tossed out and her motivations for ever helping Max become suspect.

By the end, Frey is just a moocher preying on Max's determination to make it to Elysium to save his own life and her daughter's because she has thrust that burden on him. The attempt to have Max and the daughter connect with some shared story is an obvious, feeble attempt to save a fatally broken plot.

And Max is lethally dosed before we care much about whether he lives or dies. I mean at the time, we think heck, dying is better than that dead end abyss he's condemned to wallow in. He's living alone, doing nothing of consequence without any hope for anything to improve. Then suddenly, he's got to go "back" to Spider and offer to work for him "again". The previous relationship with Spider is all news to the audience and we don't know whether Spider is a good guy or bad guy -- he's a gangster of course but seems to be on Max's side.

And then, bang, bang, bang and everyone is on Elysium shooting at each other.

Too much time is spent trying to make an unrealistic and improperly established on-Elysium ad hoc fire fight into a meaningful climatic final battle between villain and hero. It falls flat because the villain and hero barely know who each other are and the vilain is unrealistically resurrected in a deus ex machina.

And then Spider shows up tapping on keyboards all ready take over the entire Elysium complex because he has a code for a "reboot" that can make someone president!? I mean really, no one is going to question why there's a new president that they didn't elect? What? Spider pulls another deus ex machina and voila! everyone is a citizen with the same "reboot" code that was going to make Jodi Foster president. What? That's just silly.

The science fiction was all fiction that required way too much suspension of disbelief.
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on January 30, 2014
This product arrived quickly and undamaged.

As for the movie itself, my wife and I feel it was good, but seemed to borrow a lot of concepts from existing material and lacked a strong story. Ironically, we both predicted the correct outcome for every character very early in the movie (according to their individual introductions) which was kind of a disappointment in terms of suspense. We like movies where you guess an outcome and then are blown away on just how wrong you were. However, that is only our feelings and thus you might feel completely different. Some of the acting in this film was great, others…not so much. We continuously were reminded of District 5 (which is understandable via who worked on this film) and Mad Max throughout the entire movie. Sadly though, we feel Elysium (the ringed city itself) was just a mild twist to the Halos in the Halo video game series. We love that series and noticed many background images held a more than familiar view from those found in the video games. However, perhaps we are wrong and maybe Elysium was thought of prior to Halo or vice versa. It was just odd that in Halo, there is a world on a ring (a halo) that floats in space, but in that case people avoided it to not destroy all species. In Elysium, it is a world on a ring-like structure, but everyone want's to be on it to save the species. In either case it is a good movie, but the plot was missing something for both of us. However, this is just our view, and anyone without Halo playing knowledge might truly love the images presented. Even if you do have Halo knowledge, the way the images are presented make you excited to know what a Halo movie could be like.

To sum this review up:
-Will we watch this movie again? Definitely.
-Was it enjoyable to watch? Yes.
-Did we feel for and/or relate to the characters? Sometimes.
-Did it have a strong and original plot? No.
-Were the outcomes predictable? To us, very predictable.
-Is it one of the best movies we've seen? No.

Overall, it is a good film, but not the best. We hope this reviewed helps without giving too much away from the story.
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