Critics' review: Elysium is no must watch

  • Elysium is a sci-fi action thriller that deals with political themes.

    Elysium is a sci-fi action thriller that deals with political themes. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster play the lead opposing roles in the film.

  • Damon in action.

    Damon in action.

  • Jodie Foster plays the head of Elysium and Damon's rival.

    Jodie Foster plays the head of Elysium and Damon's rival.

  • Elysium hovers over Earth.

    Elysium hovers over Earth.

  • Earth, as seen from Elysium.

    Earth, as seen from Elysium.

  • Earth, over a century from now.

    Earth, over a century from now.

  • Matt Damon turns into the machine-being.

    Matt Damon turns into the machine-being.

  • A still from Elysium.

    A still from Elysium.

  • Matt Damon showes off some abs.

    Matt Damon showes off some abs.

Neill Blomkamp's Elysium garnered much pre-release hype thanks to his previous sci-fi masterpiece District 9. However, critics feel this political film doesn't deliver as well as the last. And some say it doesn't deliver at all.

In a typically Blomkamp styled plot, Elsyium is a world that hovers over earth mockingly. The year is 2154 and while the 'Proles' live on a ravaged earth controlled by ruthless robots, the priviledged live in this glass palace world called Elysium. But the fantasy fails to impress.

"Elysium is the sort of big, noisy sci-fi film that seems to want to say something but opts instead to concentrate on fight scenes involving gimmickry," notes Tom Long in The Detroit News.

Philip French compares the film to a much celebrated animation plot. "Like Pixar's animated masterwork, WALL-E, it posits what is now a familiar dystopian scenario: a future world so utterly polluted that a privileged part of mankind has moved on to a specially created space station called Elysium to live a sybaritic life while depressed proles remain behind," writes French in The Guardian.

Meanwhile, Christopher Orr marvels at the grandeur of the film in The Atlantic. "Elysium demonstrates what he (Blomkamp) can do with a Hollywood-sized bankroll. The world on display here is imaginative yet utterly convincing, from the battle-dinged security robots to the various transport ships (civilian, military, luxury) that ferry between Earth and Elysium, to the cityscapes of his future Los Angeles, a pan-American melting pot of post-urban decay. Elysium itself is a particular marvel, a revolving torus open to the "sky" on its inner edge, such that shuttles can glide directly into its atmosphere to land on the "surface.""

Thoroughly impressed? Apparently not.

Orr goes on to point out how the parallel world "keeps disbelief suspended" but only for a while. "But eventually the accumulation of illogic is too heavy, and Elysium crashes back to Earth," he writes.

Philip French too comments on the larger-than-life-ness of the film. "It's impressively designed by Philip Ivey, who worked on both District 9 and The Lord of the Rings, but depressingly predictable in its ideas and tedious in its boneheaded brutality."


So, are the performances any good? No hating on Damon but...

"Nothing about (Jodie) Foster's performance makes sense. Her accent is either English, South African, or Martian — it's hard to tell, since it's different in every scene — and she moves more stiffly than the robots. With Elysium, Foster joins the ranks of outspoken liberals who can't manage to play their political opposites without turning themselves into caricatures," writes David Edelstein in


If you thought this was bad, wait till you read what Adam Nayman has to say in The Globe and the Mail.

"One of Blomkamp’s most unlikely conceits is a machine – apparently standard-issue in all of Elysium’s made-to-order McMansions – that can heal all injuries and infections at the flick of a switch. He could have used one to fix Elysium’s battered and broken screenplay."

Okay, now I feel a little bad for the guy.

Nayman also has a little comment reserved for the background score of the film. "Deafness is also a byproduct of the film’s assaultive sound design, which keeps hammering Ryan Amon’s Dark Knight-biting musical score into our ears, possibly in an attempt to damage the sort of higher brain functions that would compel viewers to poke holes in Elysium’s narrative inconsistencies and logical fallacies."

Wow. Does anyone like this film at all?

Aye, says Matthew Kassel. "Its propulsive, unflagging plot makes it solid summer fare, and better than much of what has been in theaters lately in the blockbuster category," writes Kassel appreciatevely.

Rotten Tomatoes grants the film an encouraging 68% on the tomatometer with the comment, "After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy."


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