What do you do when you create a major low-budget cult sci-fi film that receives plaudits from even the harshest critic?
Well in Neill Blomkamp’s case you serve up another sci-fi movie but throw a heck of a lot of money at it.
The problem is that Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) was superb because of the plot and performances - and the special effects were pretty good as well.
Elysium is an enjoyable action thriller but although it tries to keep it’s feet on the ground with a gritty reality, it does go a bit ‘Hollywood’ and loses its way.
The story is set in the year 2154 when the very rich have abandoned the Earth to its decay and pollution and have set up in a massive space station orbiting the planet. On this idyllic setting there is no crime, no one goes hungry and machines cure you of all ills.
Former petty criminal Max (Matt Damon) has an accident at work which gives him a few days to live so he plans to get to Elysium to use one of the machines.
Of course, the Elysium residents don’t want the riff-raff turning up so they have a particularly unpleasant defence minister (played by Jodie Foster) who sorts things out covertly.
One of her ‘staff’ on Earth is Kruger (Sharlto Copley) who is completely mad. In fact, he is way over the top with his violence and without any redeeming factor.
Blomkamp is great at creating the visial aspect of his stories and on the IMAX screen Elysium is amazing, contrasting with the virtually ruined Los Angeles.
The action sequences are effective and all the guns and flying craft are very impressive. But I came out of the screening a bit underwhelmed.
Leaving aside Copley’s extreme acting and Foster’s strange accent (plus a suit that changes colour in different scenes), the story isn’t grounded enough to hold the attention.
However, I can appreciate what Blomkamp is trying to do and I’m sure he will bring all the elements together for future projects.
Film details: Elysium (15) 109 mins
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga
Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley