Neill Blomkamp's second outing as a major feature film director had its ups and downs. Elysium is an action packed thrill ride that expands on the ideas of immigration, wealth and healthcare. However, the film falls flat in some of the story telling aspects and characters come off as one note. Even though this film was a great summer flick, every film has its flaws and every film can become better.
This was the one problem that never went away. If you have ever watched Blomkamp's District 9, you'd find crisp, catchy dialogue that flows with the story. This story had dialogue that was too on-the-nose/straight forward. Most of the time I felt disconnected from the story when certain sentences were muttered (i.e. "This isn't Elysium). For certain sentences/phrases, like the example, to be said, the audience really had to feel that Elysium was this amazing place where anything was possible. I didn't see Elysium as this wondrous paradise. Right off the bat the audience discovers that Elysium is run by corrupt politicians that would enjoy seeing Earth burn and a dictatorship installed. If only the damn Earthlings knew what was going on. Nearing the end of the film the dialogue started flowing with the pace of the story, but it wasn't enough.
The story tried too hard to be more than what it was. The trailer set up the perfect story: a man is sick and has to get to Elysium to cure himself. This story could have gone so many ways and the director/writer decided to go with the story that had more social commentary. I know that Blomkamp never gives us mindless action films, but this film was less thought provoking that District 9. Many times the film felt like an awareness commercial on the state of Earth, the healthcare system, immigration, and political corruption. There was very little thinking to do in the film since the issues presented have been in debate for many years. Unlike District 9, which dealt with themes that weren't popular to the entire nation at the time (i.e. isolationism and segregation), Elysium deals with hot topics that are very well known and don't need much thought, or are over-thought of already.
Blomkamp could have benefited from his usual foray into deeper hot topics while keeping the story on track and focusing on his characters more than the issues at hand. The film seemed to suffer from too many issues being pushed at the audience.
3. Dreaming Never Helps
This film is one big dream. We don't see many of these films anymore. Usually films are created for an audiences pleasure or because someone has a vision. Well, Blomkamp's film is more of what he wishes the world could eventually be and what it will never be. I'm not talking about the ruined Earth. I'm talking about the elegance of Elysium, the class equality at the end of the film, and the amazing healthcare that will probably never exist. It was so unreal that I couldn't buy into it. I did enjoy seeing the med-pods in use and watching how it might have worked, but the technology was more ridiculous and unbelievable than anything seen in Prometheus.
Fun Fact: Elysium was an idea of the afterlife for mortals who related themselves to the Greek gods.
Here are a few websites to catch up on your mythology.