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Old August 19 2013, 04:54 PM   #97
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Elysium - grade/review and spoilers - also controversy

davejames wrote: View Post
From the reviews so far, it seems the main problem isn't so much the message, as it is the extreme heavy-handedness. Apparently the rich on the station are all being portrayed as cruel and evil and uncaring, and the poor on the planet are all pure and noble and good. Which, if true, I can definitely see as being a problem.

Even as liberal as I am, I would hope both sides would be presented in a slightly more balanced and realistic way than that.
Yeah, the heavy-handedness is absurd. However, the people on Earth are not shown as "pure and noble and good." Max is a notorious criminal, and in fact criminal pursuits are shown to be a common means of making your way through life, which is all the sadder since it's obvious that it's the poor stealing from the poor, while the rich idle safely on Elysium.

Earth itself was portrayed with some nuance, I think. Elysium, however, is portrayed so thinly as to not be a real place at all. It might as well be a magical fantasy land that everybody wants to get to solely because it is magical fantasy land. It's one great big MacGuffin.

DarthTom wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
Even as liberal as I am, I would hope both sides would be presented in a slightly more balanced and realistic way than that.
Also, talk about a stereotype - Foster's character has a very German accent.
French. Her name is Delacourt, after all.

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
Star Wolf wrote: View Post
His kids are in Elysium Middle School while the rest of us have ours in 18th Street('s) School
That's a false equivalency. Everyone's child has access to education (granting the quality of that education can vary depending on the area you live in.) Damon has chosen to send his kids to a private school likely for security reasons -him being a celebrity and all- but he still pays taxes to fund private education and supports it in principle. It's just not suitable for HIS situation. I wouldn't blame him for cruising around town in a $100,000 Mercedes while I'm in a $17,000 Ford Focus.

The "idea" in Elysium seems to be that the "other 99%" DON'T have the basics of life and civilization and the 1% DOES. (Again, citing the trailers showing Matt Damon's character close to death from a treatable illness while people in Elysium have access to cancer-ridding machines in their living room.)

So it'd be more equal to say that if the only way you can get your kid an education is by paying out the nose for private school. If you can't afford it then you kid goes uneducated.

Which speaks to the larger problem we have in society when it comes to the "1%" getting away with all sorts of things and having access to things that the rest of us don't. The economy was crashed 5 years ago because the other 99% dicked around with the rules so much. What happened? By and large a stern talking too, a slap on the wrist, and tax-payer money to go and fix things, resulting in huge bonuses to the very men who ruined things in the first place.

You or I cheat on our taxes? We get huge fines and go to prison. Those elite do it or do insider trading they get slapped on the wrist. It's a disparity.

Going back to Matt Damon he's not saying "Public schools are for suckers and my kids are going to get a good, wholesome, QUALITY education of private school" he's just saying, "look I can afford it and my kids would likely be a disability to a learning environment in public school. It's a great service for people to use but it doesn't work for my situation."

Again, I can see the argument the movie wants to make and I also think I mostly agree with it as the whole 1%/99% think I see the argument behind. It's a huge disparity and half our country and elected officials have been fighting against people getting something as simple as health care.

It is a big problem we have in society.

Do I think the movie is trying to make the argument? I'm not sure. I'm also not sure "District 9" was a commentary to Apartheid.
Your rationalization about school makes no sense. Celebrities don't send their kids to private schools out of "safety concerns," but because they know public schools suck. It's also a network effect. Wealthy people send their kids to private schools, where they network and end up going to private, prestigious colleges, where they network some more and become the next generation of elites. There is far more to it than a simple choice about economics or safety. It is about the perpetuation of a classist system.

Don't get me wrong, they are making what they see as optimal choices for their children--and who wouldn't make the best choice possible for their kids, given the means? But the ultimate effects of that are much broader than you imply.

EyalM wrote: View Post
I saw it. I'd say it's a B, I enjoyed it, but have no urge to see it again anytime soon.

There are some points I wish the movie was more clear about:
Like, what exactly was the legal standing between Elysium and Earth? In some cases it looks like Elysium is a sovereign separate nation (one of the charterers mentions having embassies down on Earth). In others, it seems like Elysium is ruling the world with only the rich having citizen status.
I'm guessing the movie chose to be vague on this point since it wanted to focus on more on the issue of access to health care.

One spoiler nitpick:
Best not start pulling at the threads of this, or it will all come asunder!

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
PKerr wrote: View Post
Just got back from seeing it and it was very average, all of the action stuff was in the previews.

And BTW it's very political, once again the "evil" rich keeping the average Joe down.
Not all of the rich are evil (in or out of the film). I mean, Captain Robau's in it and he's not evil, is he?
Nah, he was just feckless and stupid.

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post

Future dystopia movies are almost invariably the most interesting in how they reflect contemporary concerns. I saw one review that called this a mix of Occupy Wall Street fears of the 1% and right-wing xenophobes who fear a future America largely overrun by Hispanics, but the movie is pretty much entirely in the court of the latter group, so I don't think it's meant to be playing to fears in that respect. I thought a good part of the allegory was fine, but the "undocumented ships" bit was really silly; it'd be like it poor Mexicans were trying to get into America by hijacking airliners.

I liked that the movie stuck to its guns enough to kill the protagonist.

I'm really not clear why Jodie Foster had her psycho henchman revived if she was pissed off at him. It didn't seem like she needed him anymore, and I can't imagine she's the sort who really stresses about fulfilling her obligations.

Great action, though.
Well put. A lot of political commentary was so on-the-nose as to be laughable. Nobody in my theater laughed, mind you, but they could have.

The film was pretty clearly criticizing anti-immigration policies, but did it in such a ham-fisted way I don't know how you could draw any kind of real conclusion from it. Yes, it would sure be nice if everyone had adequate medical and economic resources, wouldn't it? I wonder how we could solve that problem, other than by violently taking those resources from the wealthy, which is the direction this film takes the issue. Totes subtle.

Base_Delta_Zero wrote: View Post
Wow, that was great. Brilliant summary of most of my thoughts on the film. I agree that it ended at just the right point to avoid showing the terrible consequences that would certainly arise from Max's actions.

Yminale wrote: View Post
Earth will quickly overpopulate, burn through whatever resources it has left and collapse into anarchy...again.
I agree with your analysis but there is one flaw. These people have cheap access to space. You need resources, send the robots to mine asteroids. Need energy. Tell the robots to built solar arrays or mine Helium 3 from the moon. Need water. Tell the robots to capture a comet. Need space. There are these objects called PLANETS that happen to be in the neighborhood. Venus itself is roughly the size of Earth and could be terraformed.

Maybe the ultimate lesson of Elysium is that rich people are sociopaths who can't share a little to help the unfortunate.
Your suggestions are all magical. What they have cheap access to is low Earth orbit, which seems like a natural progression from what we have now. Going to asteroids, other planets, the Moon, etc. is a different matter. The robots are more of a game-changer than anything else, since it seems you could send crews of robots to do your dirty work instead of risking human lives.

But acquiring enough resources for Elysium is totally different from acquiring enough for everyone on Earth. You're talking a couple orders of magnitude difference here.

teacake wrote: View Post
Just came back from it. I'd give it a B. I was not expecting it to be such an action flick, much less intelligent and artful than District 9. I was never bored, but would have liked to see more of Elysium itself. Ending was disappointing, surely someone is going to over ride this and the only people who got something out of it were the ones lucky enough to be near the med ships when they landed.

The trailer led me to believe this was going to be more sedate and also more of a cyber tech sci fi. I got a shock that it was rated R here (18+ only), maybe the exploding/exploded heads?

Had a bit of a laugh over the desperate refugees trying to make it to first world shores and all their protected wealth and health as this is a huge election hot point in aus right now. Fuck you Kevin Rudd and fuck fuck you. I muttered through my popcorn.

I liked the blooming (cherry?) trees in the huge tech plant under the surface.

Jodie Foster is HOT but yeah, needed a real character to play.

I loved Diego Luna who played Julio. Adorable.
The cherry blossoms were a great element of the final fight. Visually, this was a spectacular film. I just found the story very disappointing.

Apart from the ending being a huge cheat, chauvinistic and racist Hollywood tropes were in full display:

* The bad guy is ugly, brutish, vulgar, casually violent toward women, and uses threats of rape to get what he wants.
* Female characters are transparent (but ultimately incompetent) schemers like Delacourt, or damsels in distress like Frey and her daughter. Really, Delacourt could have just been a man, for all the subtlety in her characterization. They got Jodie Foster and did absolutely nothing with her.
* Male characters are shown only to be competent and successful if they are cruel or violent. Max is a nobody until he puts on an exosuit and starts kicking ass. Kruger is the only line of defense against illegal immigration to Elysium, which he manages through incredibly violent means. Even Spider uses armed henchmen, extortion, and manipulation to get what he wants--and also sends people to die without seeming to care much about that. President Patel is stupid and incompetent. He wants to solve things through dialogue, you see, which makes him a useless obstacle. (This was a more general feature of the politicians in the film being complete idiots, though.)
* It's almost entirely brown people who are trying to get into Elysium, whose residents are shown to be mainly white (President Patel and, I think, an east Asian council member notwithstanding.) Meanwhile, Max is the Great White Hope who must break the system and then fix it so it's fair. White man's burden, indeed.

None of this is meant to indicate that Blomkamp is racist or sexist, just that these attitudes are so sadly pervasive in mainstream filmmaking (and society at large), most people don't bat an eye at them.

And a note on the ending...

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