I love Blomkamp, I really do, his work just seems so thoughtful to me that I really love it. You know that one movie that embeds a director in your head forever, for example Nolan with Memento, that’s what District 9 was for Blomkamp. But when I saw Elysium, I felt a little sad because I had mixed feelings about this movie. I don’t know if it was the long wait or that I was tired when I saw it but I left the movie thinking Blomkamp could have done better. Don’t get me wrong, he did good but it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it should be. And to clarify, I didn’t have ridiculous expectations for the movie; I just thought that it would be a lot better than just being decent.
Warning, if you did not read the title, this sentiment is not without spoilers so tread likely (Breaking Bad reference, hahaha!)
Characters and character development in this movie were not as defined as they should be, especially Max. Max’s character arc was supposed to be I’m selfish to I’m selfless but it just felt like “hey, I’m an ass who is trying to stay alive to hey, I care about the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE, fine, you can kill me”. Oh yeah, spoilers, he died in the end. I just didn’t feel that he went through enough crap trying to save himself and then suddenly saw that glimmer of hope that is in his hands, or rather head, and decided, I’m now ok to sacrifice my life for the betterment of the rest of humanity. I just didn’t feel that there was enough transition for his character to be where he finally ended up being.
Next, Jodie Foster’s character was weird (together with her lip movements that sounded dubbed, or maybe she was a heartless robot? I don’t know) because she tries to feel powerful beyond everyone and yet she feels disconnected to both earth and Elysium. She doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere, not only because of her accent but her being distinguished feels detached rather than powerful.
Lastly, I really liked Spider’s character but his motivations are extremely far off. To put this into perspective, he was a mercenary after power ( I assume) as exhibited by him sending people to Elysium for a large fee and also you know, his gunmen. But he wants to take Elysium down, why? Because he wants equality? That doesn’t make sense. Why would a guy interested in money give out charity and want equality. He just seems misplaced. Also, I thought that people from Elysium were idiots for hiring Krueger rather than Spider. If they hired Spider as their earth pawn, then no one can ever disturb Elysium. For one, no one will have the shuttles to get there as Spider has control over it. Second, no technology can be used against them because the mind behind taking down Elysium would be Spider himself. Lastly, if Spider was sitting in a butt load of money, he wouldn’t be interested in sending people to Elysium for a lousy fee to just get deported.
There were some hidden meanings that led to confusion. This obviously pertains to the setting. The language and the demeanor of people were peculiar. How? It’s understandable that people from Elysium are detached from earth because that’s how it is today but the way that their leaders behave was particularly weird. For example, it took Krueger’s team only a few hand grenades to effectively crush the most powerful place in Elysium. Why? Because they apparently have robots to watch you tan yourself but no robots to watch over the most powerful people on Elysium. Also, they buy these robots made on earth and for what? Nothing? Well not to guard the mainframe which can damage the entire system. On why that is, I don’t understand. I would like to think that this is because people in Elysium have a false sense of infallibility. They think that no one can touch them therefore no one can ever threaten their status and their habitat for that matter. This can be true especially with Jodie Foster. I mean she thought she was in charge but then killed by a crazy soldier which makes sense but still disconnected.
Also, in a place where people are greedy, of course they had to be or else they would stay on earth, why has it that no one has staged a coup other than Jodie Foster. It was obvious that people who had the power called the shots but why is it that no one attempted to grab it before. I mean was it only Jodie Foster who thought of it and the hacker himself never thought, hey I can reset the system of Elysium, why not make myself richer by becoming president to ensure my wealth?
The message gets muddled. I’m all about cautionary tales (or in this case, a story of what is actually happening) but if you want to send a message make it clear. This story felt to me like it’s about immigration but it’s really about healthcare (with the obvious nods on the medbay); but why? Is earth only inhabited by the sickly? Isn’t there anyone going hungry on earth that’s why they are going sick? Or are all of earth’s diseases just congenital or gunshot wounds. People can eat but can’t walk, is that this dystopic future? Because if it is, then they should be happier than they are. In a place where there is no hunger and no war and all you need to worry about is disease, then that’s a pretty good place to be. That can even be considered a little bit of paradise. But the director obviously aimed to show disparity, he made it so clear with just the habitat, but in the story, he only made it about healthcare and it is obvious that the disparity between humans in his world is beyond just healthcare. It is partially about healthcare but not ultimately just healthcare. I just feel that the message could have been clearer and more concise like people are dying of disease because the resources are depleted, there is no food and there is no medication; people are killing off one another to survive due to desperation. I mean in this world, it is more likely to kill someone else and not get caught as compared to migrating to Elysium and not get caught. The reality of the message is just so watered down that it is hard to take a hold of.
Was it just me or do you feel the same way about Elysium? If anyone can tell me where the thought went wrong please do, because I really want to like this movie more than I did. These things may not be so apparent in the movie but they did bother me when I was trying to make sense of the movie.