I give up. Hollywood wore me down. If I see another movie taking place in an apocalyptic future with robots being blown up by movie stars on human growth hormones I will go into a sugar coma. As it is I’m going to have to spend a couple months in an isolation chamber with Werner Herzog documentaries to recover from Elysium.
You might have already seen Elysium this summer. It came out in April with the title Oblivion and then again in May with the name After Earth except now instead of Tom Cruise or the Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s son it is up to Matt Damon to stop a future where Earth’s environment is destroyed and the privileged get to live in space. Do we have to wait until they make a Jetsons movie to see the future as a happy place? With the copycat trend in movies they’ll probably have Ryan Gosling play George Jetson as a lone hero trying to stop Mr. Spacely’s evil plan of having an army of Rosie the Robots take over a polluted Earth.
Elysium is about a polluted earth where the impoverished, who mostly speak Spanish, struggle to make ends meet. Up in space is a paradise called Elysium where the rich idle away their days with technology that allows them to never get sick or stay injured. Coyotes smuggle people from Earth to Elysium as the guardians of Elysium do everything in their power to keep the riff-raff out. I’m sure the creators in a room of marijuana smoke thought they were being so clever drawing parallels between the class division in Elysium and the US immigration policy with Latin Americans and our country’s own wealth disparity. But it’s hard to take the tsk tsking about that important subject seriously when it comes from a movie that cost $200 million dollars to produce.
In 2009 the director Neill Blomkamp made this movie far better with District Nine. District Nine had the same incredible special effects while able to make social commentary in a less clunky and obvious way. I’m guessing Blomkamp didn’t lose his touch in crafting an interesting story, but that his touch got taken away with the inclusion of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in this movie. As the great screenwriter William Goldman said in his book Adventures In The Screen Trade, movie stars ruin movies. Their desire to be loved by audiences takes away any possibility of nuance. And so instead of surprise we get cliches. Instead of interesting characters we are given hammy performances. Instead of District Nine we get Elysium.