Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
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 Damon … Max De Costa
Jodie Foster … Secretary Rhodes
William Fichtner … John Carlyle
Sharlto Copley … Kruger
Diego Luna … Julio
Faran Tahir … President Patel
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|Director:||Neill Blomkamp—“District 9,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Smallville”|
Media Rights Capital
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|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”:
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).
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.
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.
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.