Elysium - grade/review and spoilers - also controversy

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by DarthTom, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. DarthPipes

    DarthPipes Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2006
    I saw it today and it was all right. I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as District 9 and it's nowhere near as good. I thought Jodie Foster was in an M. Night Shyamalan film with that stupid speaking voice she adopted. She was stuck with such a cardboard villain character it wasn't even funny. A wasted role for her. The film was thin in spots regarding characterization and story.

    Still, this movie had a few things going for it...

    -Sharlto Copley stole the show as Kruger. Hell, I found myself rooting for him at times despite how horrible the character he portrayed was. Seriously, this guy has to make more films because he's terrific.

    -Between District 9 and Elysium, Neil Blomkamp knows how to create a sci-fi world.

    -I liked the Spider character too.
     
  2. Star Wolf

    Star Wolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Location:
    ciudad de Los Angeles
    It seemed to me the way the robots reacted after the reprogram was that Earth/Elysium could easily heal everybody only the rich with Jodie foster leading the charge much like General Zod in Man of Steel, just didn't want to or have the vision to.

    However look how well behaved the earthlings are, the robots didn't even send police to control crowds should a triage system be needed at the medical shuttles
     
  3. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Location:
    Idealistic
    I should've been clearer, I guess. Because yeah, that was my point. We basically only see mustache twirling rich people.

    In a better movie, the people in the station would've been more complex, perhaps someone there might have been advocating for changes. Who knows? That sort of complexity rarely comes out of Hollywood sci fi.

    None of the characters and the groups they belonged to were complex.

    Missed opportunity.
     
  4. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Morrowind
    Hasn't that been scientifically proven?
     
  5. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Mr. Laser Beam is in the visitor's bullpen
    ^ Hardly.

    The mere concept of having wealth, being rich, is not under attack here. That has always existed and WILL always exist.

    It's what is done with the wealth that's the problem. There can be rich people who use their money wisely, and also those who hoard it. This film is apparently concerned only with the latter.
     
  6. TremblingBluStar

    TremblingBluStar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Dodge, IA
    I pretty much agree with everything here. I like that big budget Hollywood films are allowed to have a political message, but this was very heavy handed and blunt. Example, the several mentions of Homeland Security, and the deliberate killing of brown people trying to fly a rickety shuttle "north" to Elysium.

    The script, however, needed tightening. There were moments when the story dragged near the beginning, and plot holes big enough to drive a blimp through - like a computer system where a bloodless coup can be conducted by simply changing the President's name on a server. Right.

    People who are sticklers for technological anachronisms will have a field day with this film. Not only are people in the world of 2154 still using modern day computer systems, they are operating modern day vehicles. Nice to know that a Chevy truck built today will still be running in 140 years!
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Location:
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Whenever you're depicting a far future society you have a helluva challenge on your hands: how much time and money are you willing (allowed) to spend on sets, props and post production?

    A dystopic future gives you an out---a gimme---because you can recycle all sorts of on hand stuff and most in the audience will go with it. The only time that really might not work is if it's really far future on the order of hundreds to a thousand years or more.

    The only other way out of this trap is to set your story away from Earth and you eliminate a lot of stuff you now don't have to show. Even then it's still a challenge.

    There's also the challenge of how advanced do you want your future to be? There are ideas in SF literature as well as speculative science books that really push the envelope to the point that some in the audience might not get it.
     
  8. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Location:
    Idealistic

    Yeah, that deeply annoyed me. It was very distracting.

    There's a simple solution: Don't give me a year. Don't tell me its 2154.

    And, personally, I think it was a choice, perhaps one made by budget, but I think having the cars from our time was a creative choice to further reenforce the message. Give it an every time quality to the movie.

    It was a stupid choice. Don't try and give it an "every time" thing and then say it's 2154.

    Oh, and another thing that bothered me. Physics. In a space ship under acceleration, bottles wouldn't be floating. They WOULDN'T BE FLOATING. They could've saved some CGI money is someone with a brain said, "hey, this doesn't make sense."

    Gah.

    This summer has put out a lot of shitty genre movies.
     
  9. TremblingBluStar

    TremblingBluStar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Dodge, IA
    Oh, I agree. However, plenty of low budget scifi films managed to create vehicles that looked futuristic, but didn't break the budget. Blade Runner is a great example.

    If the vehicles looked pieced together, then I would understand. I'm guessing, and I have no proof of this, that the vehicles were kept looking so much like modern day vehicles because they were product placements.

    I understand that in the world depicted in the film materials had to be recycled, and thus the tech would look well used, but the body frame of a vehicle built today won't last 140 years, especially given the environmental conditions shown in the film. It would have been a pile of rust after a few decades.
    That would have been a sensible solution.
     
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    My only problem is that it will take gov'ts to make something like that station. That's TVA scale +!

    More likely, the rich would be against it.

    Right now, its sub-orbital flights that get the attention anyway.
     
  11. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    I think Cubans are fine once they get a certain distance from shore.
     
  12. Star Wolf

    Star Wolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Location:
    ciudad de Los Angeles
    All I have ever heard was dry land, and it meaning being able to walk on a wet beach. Wiki claims most Cubans come via Mexico now. I guess they don't need a coyote as they can get over the border and surrender to the Border Patrol
     
  13. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    "Even though"? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a "B+" pretty much universally mean "very good", and just shy of "excellent"? Seems to me that it isn't at all odd to "quite enjoy" a film you deem B+/"very good". ;)
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Location:
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    If I sit back and don't think about it the film looks to be very creative and nicely executed. But then when I factor in what I consider are missed opportunities then the grading goes down. Maybe my phrasing was better, but in the end I did summarize my overall opinion as "good, but not stellar."
     
  15. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Saw Elysium over the weekend. I'd give it a B to B+. I guess I was hoping for more out of this film. Matt Damon was good in the film but IMO he's about the only one. What a waste with the talent they had in Jodi Foster. Her character was completely one dimensional. Villians a great in these types of films but please shit add some complexity to their character as to why they are demented. They missed a big opportunity to add a back story as to why she was an evil bitch.

    As several have said, the plot has many holes. The biggest one for me is related to how Damon's character has the magical computer code to change everything. You'd think since the robots were so key to protecting Elysium they'd also have some kind of override or kill swtich.

    Also, as other have said - more time batteling on Elysium was missing from the story.

    On the positive side it was visually amazing.

    Regading someone's comment about not telling us what year this was - meh. Trek was more guilty than Elysium on this. How many times did they have to reconfigure the timeline to fit into dialogue about what was going to happen into what actually has happened to humankind. So if I forgive Trek for this problem and being generally bad at predicting the future, I'll give Elysium this pass as well.
     
  16. Fruitcake

    Fruitcake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    inside teacake
    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.
     
  17. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    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.

    French. Her name is Delacourt, after all.

    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.

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

    Elysium appears to have some kind of extrajudicial status, perhaps like micronations on Earth. No one "owns" space, therefore no one can tell Elysium it "can't" be where it is. But it also means there is no legal jurisdiction except for what the Elysians (I just made that up) decide for themselves. Elysium de facto lords over Earth because they have the power to. What evidence we have of a functional government is in the form of the robotic police and parole officer. The implication, to me, is that there is very little human government on Earth, with most functions being carried out by robots. Whatever human government exists on Earth has to be profoundly crappy and ineffectual.

    The medical shuttles at the end are such a handwave. Why the hell would those exist at all? The prospect of treating people on Earth had never, ever been mentioned. At most, maybe they'd have a couple mobile units to service Elysians on Earth, but whole shuttles of them? What the hell for, other than to be cruel bastards and lord them over the helpless Earthlings?

    Nah, he was just feckless and stupid.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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...

    I don't consider Max's sacrifice to be all that worthy. His options were to:

    1. Save himself by getting to a medbay, which would ruin the whole plan to make everyone a citizen, and probably get him killed anyway.
    2. Reboot Elysium at the cost of his own life, saving everyone on Earth (and Frey's daughter.)

    #1 was unlikely to even succeed, and he wouldn't be around to see the consequences of #2. It's not so much a sacrifice as a prudent decision to resolve what was inherently a no-win situation for him. He was almost certain to die either way, and at least with one choice he could potentially make things better for a lot of other people. I find his sacrifice a lot less meaningful in light of that.
     
  18. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    What, no poll? You're forcing me to actually explain my vote.

    B+ story. Good action, a good but heavy-handed metaphor. It suffers a bit because the metaphor is a bit too heavy-handed (it's easy to dismiss the analogy as simply inapplicable to us). I wish there had been an attempt to at least suggest that Elysium's quality of life would drop if they had to treat all of Earth. That being said the "citizens in distress on Earth" thing at the end was one hell of a symbolic image of the whole message (which, to me, wasn't so much haves and have nots in the sense of the 1% vs. 99% but have and have nots between the first world and the rest of the world).

    I'm sure someone, if they wanted to make up a lot of things, could come up with an explanation that would give substance to Elysium's reluctance to help Earth. I'm not about to nitpick an allegory in science fiction form, we don't have enough of those these days. Instead, plot device that bugged me more was the encryption protocol. I'm not sure what that was supposed to accomplish. It's not much of a defense if it lets you download and access it in the first place (which seems to be one of the main reasons to encrypt something). Also, what was going to happen to the first guy who had it? Would he die if he downloaded it? That doesn't seem to have worked as fluidly as it should have (although it's amusing that Max Damon had many, many ways things we killing him - from radiation to stab wounds, to security software).
     
  19. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    The "deadly encryption" angle never made any sense in the movie. Spider was able to look at the data and even figure out what it was, but it didn't become lethal until it was actually transferred into another machine. I mean, duhhh, if you can look at the code, you can copy it at the same time. In fact, looking at the code in any way is making a copy of it, from Max's head to Spider's screens (a copy is a copy is a copy!)

    That was one of those conceits that nobody really thought through. Of course, Spider couldn't hatch his whole plan to legalize everybody without knowing what the code did in the first place.
     
  20. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 1999
    Location:
    NJ, USA
    I finally saw this movie, my pre-conceptions--voiced earlier in the thread aside--I did enjoy the film overall. I am somewhat disappointed, I was expecting a touchstone type of SF movie, possibly even Oscar material and what I got was something slightly above average but not particularly notable.

    The metaphors: Both for the immigration policies of countries on Earth, plus the control of the Wealth and governing amongst a small portion of the population were obviously thinly disguised. I tend to think most people agree things will continue this way and get worse, though statistics show the wealth is spreading over populations in many countries. I tend to doubt this thought experiment/cautionary tale is likely to happen, at least on the scale that it does in the movie.

    The technology: I think it's possbile much of the audience may not realize a lot of the healing technology in the movie may well come to pass on some level, likely even before the time period in the movie. I don't have qualms with that. Though Elysium itself is pretty magnificent, the movie really fails to convey that most anything else fits into this future, it's a little too safe and pat to be believable. Humans are basically the same as they are now, but the "out of touch" rich are even more out of touch. Elysium may as well be Wonderland. Now to protect this place, a unique way of life..there are no defense batteries, orbital satellites or interceptors, even though the people on Earth posses shuttles. There is however, a psychologically disturbed cyborg with a missle launcher on the planet...yikes.

    So what will happen on an overpopulated Earth when everyone is healed? Well more space stations of course. Colonies on the moon, and expansion. But in the meantime, yes there will be chaos. What a mess the ending leaves everyone in.

    I found Damon adequate in the lead role. Foster's role was underwritten and performed.

    B-