A Quick Tip by Creamtrumpet
As a fan of director Neill Blomkamp's first movie, District 9 (2009), and his short films, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Elysium. Though it's not a total disappointment, Blomkamp's sophomore effort unfortunately doesn't match the brilliance of his debut.
There's much to like and admire in the film. The visuals are gorgeous, thanks to some impressive design and special effects work by Syd Mead, Image Engine and Weta, and there are lots of clever and interesting ideas and concepts in the film. Where Elysium falls short is in story and narrative. The plot is paper thin and riddled with inconsistencies, and themes and character motivations feel sketchy and undeveloped. Characters who should be interesting, layered and nuanced simply come across as two dimensional archetypes, with the possible exception of Sharlto Copley's Kruger, who pretty much steals the entire film. District 9 was edgy, intelligent, witty and subversive. Elysium feels slightly bland, clunky and lazy in comparison. Even the score, by newcomer Ryan Amon, feels overly familiar and clichéd.
I can't help feeling that what's ended up on screen is a compromised version of what Blomkamp originally envisioned. It seems like he had much more to say on the themes of class division, immigration and universal healthcare, but poor judgement, cold feet or studio pressure forced the excision of political and character based material in favour of action sequences. As a result, the film feels shallow and unengaging on an intellectual level.
What we have here is two thirds of a great movie. The skill behind the camera and the artistry on display raises it above most similar Hollywood fare, and it still proves that Blomkamp is one of the most promising young directors working today, but without the spark, invention and wit of his debut, Elysium remains a well made, above average sci-fi action movie and nothing more.