You want to know the danger of expectations? The danger of expectations is they can really mess with your head and your love. Here’s what I mean. In 2009 Neil Blomkamp made a low-ish budget sci-fi movie called DISTRICT 9. It was fantastic. It was nominated for Best Picture. It was one of my favorite movies of 2009. So, it took him four years (and one presumes a lot more money) to make another. That movie is ELYSIUM. I wanted to love ELYSIUM as much as I loved DISTRICT 9. I wanted it to be better. Well, you don’t always get what you want (sorry Mick and Keith). It’s not that ELYSIUM is bad. It’s actually quite good. It has a lot going for it. Blomkamp put the extra bucks into his cast and effects. There are some really cool toys. It’s only 97 minutes and maybe it could have been longer. Give the audience a chance to catch up or explain things a little better. The story is about (and yes here we go again) a dystopian earth of the future where the healthy and fortunate (and French speaking) live on an orbiting space station called ELYSIUM (in mythology it’s a vision of the afterlife) where people are cured just by lying in a special bed. The dirty, criminal and sick (and Spanish speakers) live on Earth. Everyone wants to get to ELYSIUM, and not everyone can. Matt Damon is a reforming thief who get irradiated at work and only has 5 days to live. He enlists his former crime buddies to help him get there and they fit him with an exo-suit and a mission. Steal what’s in billionaire whiz William Fichtner head so everyone can get to paradise. It all goes wrong, Fichtner dies (as he does in almost every movie) and Damon is forced to improvise to save himself, his childhood girlfriend and her daughter. Damon is solid. Sharlto Copley is pretty good as a psychotic villain. The major problem here is Jodie Foster. She is absolutely horrible. Her French accent appears and disappears in a Costner-esque fashion. She overacts everything. Yeah, I get it she’s playing a Dick Cheney/Donald Rumsfeld character so that needs to be a little over the top. But this is a masterclass in one performance ruining a decent movie. Paradise for me would be a remake without Jodie Foster. But that won’t happen, so we’ll all have to just suffer her performance while trying to enjoy a good story. My expectations were high, and sadly they were not realized. — Alan Yudman
Good science fiction can create a world that is both entertaining and thought provoking. “District 9” did it on the big screen. “Battlestar Galactica” nailed it on the small screen. “Elysium” belongs on the Sci Fi Channel, right after “Sharknado”. This is an absolute train wreck. Matt Damon does what he can with a horrible script, the story is sledgehammer subtle with it’s views on immigration (99% of the world lives on Earth, speak Spanish, and are sick while Elysium is inhabited by mostly white folks drinking champagne and getting groundbreaking health care.) They suit Damon up in a RoboCop type of suit and then have him shoot guns and run around for an hour and a half…but no fighting till the final few minutes. Oh yeah, there’s also a love story. Action scenes are boring, dramatic scenes are obvious, a simple story is made more complicated just because, did I mention I hated this movie?