Movie Review

Elysium

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Sci-Fi Action Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
August 9, 2013 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: December 17, 2013
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing

liberal political messages in recent movies such as the “Elysium,” “The Purge,” “Promised Land,” “White House Down,” and “The Hunger Games”

using science fiction futurism to promote a particular view about today's immigration and heathcare issues

specter of gross overpopulation and an environmentally ruined Earth—a worldwide slum

class conflict/struggle/warfare: the very very wealthy (the 1%) versus the poor, exploited masses

the divide between the haves and have nots

superb healthcare for the rich versus virtually none for the poor

anti-immigration laws “designed to preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium”

Does class equality—a classless society—produce utopia?

What have been the fruits of Socialism, Marxism and Communism?

having a terminal illness

Featuring: Matt DamonMax De Costa
Jodie FosterSecretary Rhodes
William Fichtner … John Carlyle
Sharlto Copley … Kruger
Alice Braga
Talisa Soto
Diego Luna … Julio
Michael Shanks
Carly Pope
Ona Grauer
Faran Tahir … President Patel
more »
Director: Neill Blomkamp—“District 9,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Smallville”
Producer: TriStar Pictures
Media Rights Capital
more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

lysium” takes place near the end of the 21st century, and things are not well on Earth. Overpopulation has become a huge problem, and life on Earth has become nearly unbearable. Health is poor, and the planet is a wasteland. All those in poverty live on Earth, and the rich, desiring to maintain their way of living, live on a station away from Earth called Elysium (containing no disease, luxurious living spaces, etc.).

Our hero (?) is Max De Costa. Max is a citizen (and a criminal) of Earth. While working at the factory one day, helping build robots, he is accidentally locked in a container and sprayed with radiation. After being decontaminated, he is told that he has five days left to live. Max realizes the only way to save himself is to get to Elysium and find a machine that will cure him of his radiation poisoning.

Max goes to a crook named Spyder. Spyder tells him that he will give Max a ride to Elysium, if he gathers information from an important figure working on Earth. However, the information Max gathers proves to be more valuable than expected, and the military is sent to silence Max. Will they succeed, or will Max make it to Elysium and possibly change the future of Earth… forever.

“Elysium” is certainly one of the most fascinating films I have seen in a long time. I am a huge fan of both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, and having seen the previews for “Elysium,” I couldn’t wait until its release to catch this “blockbuster.”

“Elysium” is pretty simple to follow. Blomkamp is all about making his films into huge blockbusters (dare I compare “Elysium” to “Man of Steel”?). You may remember Director Blomkamp from “District 9” and the television series, “Smallville.” With “Elysium” being a blockbuster, there are no head scratching scenes in this film, and the performances are pretty well done (of course, you have Matt Damon and Jodie Foster as leads. Enough said). The special effects and the scenery are a sight to behold, in good and bad ways. Interestingly, scenes from “Elysium” were filmed in British Columbia, Canada, and scenes involving Earth were filmed in Mexico City, which I found appropriate given the context of the film.

What has really peaked my curiosity lately is how Hollywood directors have been producing films that attach strong, political messages. An example, which you can find here, is “White House Down.” The same can be said for “Elysium.” Here are the politics you should be aware of in “Elysium”:

  1. Overpopulation of Earth and Illegal Immigration. As far as I could read, “Elysium” really pushes that we need to be careful of not overpopulating the Earth and that our resources, due to the overwhelming population, are limited. On the topic of illegal immigration, the people of Elysium make it very clear, as Jodie Foster’s character, Secretary Rhodes, points out that Elysium is reserved for only the richest, classy and most decorated people and not for the poverty-struck, “have not” citizens of Earth. My review is not intended to debate this issue, only to point out that this topic is one of many central (and dare I say, liberal) themes surrounding “Elysium” (Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are outspoken supporters of the liberal party).

  2. Healthcare: Rich vs. The Poor. The idea addressed here is that we are heading towards a society where the rich end up receiving the best health care available due to their financial success, and the middle and even poverty class will receive little to almost nothing. One might argue that this film is not too far from the truth in this regard. Again, my job is not to debate the issues, but to inform those walking into this blockbuster.

These two issues make up the entire drive of the film, and I’ll admit they are very hard to ignore (including a reference to the Department of Homeland Security used by the people of Elysium to keep illegal immigrants detained and quiet). If you’re willing to look past those though, you may end up having a good time with “Elysium,” regardless. Just be prepared.

Objectionable Content

Violence: Extreme, gruesome, and over-the-top. When I heard the MPAA rated “Elysium” “R,” at first I objected. After I walked out though, I said to myself, “Good call.” This is NOT a movie for kids or teens, by any means. Shootings, stabbings, electrocutions, plane crashes and explosions are frequent and disturbing. In addition, there are scenes where human beings are shot and explode (showing pieces of flesh flying), a scene where we see a person’s face (eyes, nose and mouth) missing, multiple scenes involving blood, Max being sprayed with dangerous, radiated chemicals. The violence is so extreme that to continue on with the details is pointless.

Profanity: Expect the same amount you saw in “District 9”—extreme. The movie is plagued with over 55 instances of the f-bomb (including two obscene gestures), one of mother-f**ker, two of b**ch, sh*t (3), bull-sh*t (2), Jesus’ name is taken in vain once and God’s name is taken in vain twice (one of them in an instance of God-d**n. Other vulgar language includes the word “pis**d.”

Sex/Nudity: Very limited—shirtless men, a revealing outfit worn by one of the citizens of Elysium while being cleared of cancer (she is wearing a bikini), and a scene of seduction of a supporting character by one of the military officers.

Positive Themes: Even in a film like “Elysium,” there are some positive themes involving self-sacrifice, heroism for the good of all, and the importance of where you come from and how it plays an important role in who you become. These themes are small, but they do “pop up” from time to time.

Final Thoughts/Concerns

In all honesty, I really want to recommend this film. It’s a visually stunning movie, with tons of action, hints of romance, and a pretty decent story. But I can’t. I wanted to love this film, and if the violence and political messages weren’t such a huge factor in this film, I may have enjoyed it a little more. Please don’t think of taking children or teenagers to this film. The violence alone is gruesome enough to make them steer clear. “Elysium” is for adults ONLY. No doubt we will be seeing “Elysium” nominated for Oscars® next year, but as for me, I won’t be one waiting in anticipation for the DVD release.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Elysium is a true depiction of the people living in the third world and the Western world. The movie characterizes two types of people. First those are on the earth, poor and helpless. And second those who are living out of the planet earth in a self-made paradise, called Elysium. A Roman Catholic nun has been showed raising up young Max who is orphan and poor. He wishes to see Elysium. It is quite similar to the Church and its ministries in the developing world that is engaged in preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and providing hope to the poor and oppressed that a day will come when justice, peace and stability will rule the creation.

The movie reveals the lifestyles and privileges of the people of Elysium who have gained it by the sheer hard work of people like Max. Many have argued that many wealthy countries of the world enjoy many luxuries on the cost of the progressing world and their inhabitants. Many Western businesses have their production projects in the developing countries. People of poor countries prepare products for the style and luxury of people of the wealthy countries on very low cost. These companies do not care for their employees as they would have cared for them in their own countries. Most of the times these laborers reflect Max who got affected by getting exposed to lethal level of radiation at his job that led him to die in five days. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Farrukh Sharon Bhatti, age 30 (Pakistan)
Positive—We saw this movie tonight. I had read the other reviews and was prepared for the violence. I will say that the violence was a little rough, but it seemed appropriate for what was going on in the movie. If this situation was real, it would be preserved at all costs.

Beyond the obvious storyline of government, healthcare, and rich vs. poor… there was a deeper story. To me the meaning of the movie that hit me was how little moments in our lives touch us and put us on the path for our lives. The characters in the movie had pasts that wove them together creating the opportunities that allowed them to be able to accomplish what they accomplished. (Was trying to share without spoiling anything in the movie.) I personally loved how Matt Damon’s character’s past and friendships set him on the path to change the world. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it —Proverbs 22:6. That is the Biblical point I took from this movie.

Regardless of the situations the main character encountered, it all boiled down to what he was deep down… those character qualities that were instilled in him as a child.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tracy, age 44 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—“Elysium” has a valid point, let’s put ALL humans above all robots. But the idea that one has to be a world citizen to get immortal medical help is ludicrous. People today are pressing way to hard for a world class citizenship empire. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize all people are worth more than robots. The idea that “world class citizenship” is the key to immortally has been done before, it was called the Nazi party in Germany back then, and it harnessed the medical community as slaves in order to use doctors to kill the enemies of the Nazi’s very secretly.

If “Elysium” were more realistic, they would of secretly used those healing machines to kill enemies of the world elite. The movie has a good heart though, but evil is more evil than the writer of “Elysium” would have you believe.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Matt Hase, age 49 (USA)
Neutral—Having seen this movie, I expected it to be like “District 9”—swearing and blood. Which obviously makes it not the best movie to see, but I didn’t feel convicted for seeing it, though. The CGI quality was mind blowing once again, as expected. Overall, I probably wouldn’t buy it, because I didn’t feel it was as good as “District 9.” The story is not exactly hard to follow, even if not into fantasy/sci-fi, you will follow it. Like “District 9,” it has the same general concept as always in the story of rich and the poor—illegals and legals.

I’ve seen negative secular reviews that say the idea of rich and poor is ridiculous. Just as I’ve seen Christian reviews say the idea is absurd and unrealistic. I don’t see the big fuss honestly, especially as a Christian, since I do think it’s how things are going to be (maybe not as extreme, of course). Even the Bible does say things will only get worse before the end. So if anything, this movie reminds me of end times and also reminds me that we need to be strong and have faith in God no matter the future trials that will come.

Would I recommend seeing it for that reason? Well no. For most Christians, this movie will be offensive.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Matt, age 31 (USA)
Neutral—I was bored with this movie, as I was with the “Transformers” movies. It started out well, which you see in the trailers, but like most trailers, it was pretty much the best part. ***SPOILER*** The plot is pretty under-developed. Within a day, there is a presidential coup, airspace breaches, and former adversaries partnering together, all with lots of special effects, explosions and graphic violence. ***END SPOILER*** For my money it would be better to rent “Oblivion.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Chris Cardone, age 53 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Everything the reviewer said is true. Although visually this movie looked great, and the acting was top notch (except I could not understand some of the lines given by some of the supporting cast), “Elysium” was so offensive because of the profanity and violence that it really made this movie unenjoyable. I walked out of the theater wishing that I had not subjected my eyes, ears, and being to such vileness.

Sometimes we want to see a movie because we enjoy the actor (Matt Damon) or we think the storyline is interesting, but I for one refuse to continue spending time and money being exposed to things which are vexing to my soul. I should not have been so quick to see this movie without learning the facts here at Christian Answers first.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Annie, age 47 (USA)
Negative—I like action flicks and even liked the Jason Bourne movies. This had lots of action, but there was some serious graphic bloody violence, I was not prepared for. I usually review movies on this site, but didn’t. It was some of the most gruesome outright bloody violence and murder I have seen in a long time. Body parts getting blown off and exploding everywhere; it was pretty gross. And at least 10-15 F bombs. Sad because the story line was interesting enough to not need either of those things.

It was rather dark, too—the world ending, people in poverty and criminals. The movie had lots of action and was suspenseful and leaving out all the other stuff above it would have been a great movie. But did feel pretty gross after seeing it, because it was so gruesome…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Amanda, age 38 (USA)
Negative—This movie was awful! I thought it was really stupid and boring! I fell asleep after so many “F” bombs were used, it just shows the intelligence of the writers when they have to use that language throughout the whole movie. I had no feelings for any of the characters and could care less what happened at the end. I guess we should have left about 15 minutes into the movie. It was the only movie to see because of the time we showed up at the theater.

I will be shocked if this movie gets any Oscar nominations due to the pointless storyline. Don’t waste your money on a political movie that only tries to divide this country even more! Instead, try to focus on positive, good things that unite us.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Elaine, age 39 (USA)
Negative—So very negative and ugly. My husband and I went to see it because we love Sci-Fi, and the two lead actors are great. What a disappointment the film was! All this money, time, great actors etc.… to create a visually ugly, disturbing and overly violent story of a grim future.

As for the manipulative attempts to change our views about refugees and inequality, this was so heavy-handed that I had to wonder if perhaps an amateur wrote the script. When the film finished, everyone got up and left so quickly that it reminded me of birds that had been set free from a cage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Mire, age Over 40 (Australia)
Negative—I will admit up front that I do not care to see movies with Matt Damon. Once he began using his position of fame to foist his liberal views on Americans, I simply have a hard time watching him. However, I read the review on CSOE and read about what I already knew was coming—Political propaganda about the haves vs. have nots / “greedy rich (usually white) people” vs. the poor non-whites (Immigration) and Overpopulation.

Even though it was against my better judgment, I took the reviewer’s suggestion to heart; “If you’re willing to look past those (the two main themes) though, you may end up having a good time.” I tried!!!… But after getting through about ⅓rd of the movie, I had to turn it off. The propaganda and bias are too blatant! The similarity between “21st Century Los Angeles” and America today are too obvious and are exaggerated! The movie suggests that the only people left in Los Angeles are the stereotypical Latinos living in the barrios who are uneducated and even criminal and one educated white person (Matt Damon) who although has a criminal record, is still noble at heart! more »
—RD, age 44 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Elysium” is the second film from writer/director Neil Blomkamp. The first was “District 9.” Elysium does not have as much violence or language as his previous film. Unfortunately, “District 9” was also a much better film than “Elysium.” However, “Elysium” is still a very good film with fantastic visuals. Violence: Heavy Profanity: Heavy Sex/Nudity: Minor
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—C, age 15 (USA)

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