Monday, August 26, 2013

Elysium (Mild Spoilers)

I was really looking forward to this movie based off of the trailers.

The concept was intriguing - the 1% move to a space habitat and leave the rest of us to struggle on Earth - and it was directed by the same guy who did District 9, which I personally consider to be one of the best true science fiction movies of recent years.

I had every hope, in other words, for thoughtful - if political - science fiction. Unfortunately, the movie was deeply flawed.

First of all, I think the concept would have worked better as a novel or as a mini-series. A feature film did not give enough space to explore it and thus left too many unanswered questions - who actually built Elysium?

Second - if you are going to do a science fiction movie, hire a competent science advisor. Or at least call up NASA. A huge space habitat in Low Earth Orbit is simply not feasible and far too expensive. The best place to put Elysium would have been the Earth-Moon LaGrange point...but it was more important to get the right visuals than the right orbital dynamics. Oh, and a space station doesn't have "airspace" around it.

Third, half of the plot hinged on a computer security system that simply would not be designed to work that way. It kind of reminded me of the old joke about the Independence Day aliens running their ships on Windows.

Fourth, the ending was...abrupt and very much a deus ex machina.

Fifth, I have no problems with political science fiction at all, but hitting me over the head with Mjolnir every other scene gets old. Yes, I get it, you're talking about Occupy, the 1%, and universal health care. Now shut up and let me enjoy the movie.

Sixth, sorry Matt, that was a subpar performance. You were so wooden the only way you could have had chemistry with the female lead is if she was a termite. (I'd have preferred, I think, Vin Diesel in the role except that he is, for some mysterious reason, busy attempting to resurrect the Riddick franchise - why, people, why?)

And, overall, Elysium is not thoughtful science fiction. It's a pretty decent and fun techno-thriller - but that's not what it felt like during the marketing phase. Marketing fail, people. You'd have sold more tickets if you'd made it obvious it was a techno-thriller.


I was disappointed, but not because Elysium was that bad a movie. It just wasn't what I'd got myself in the mood for or expected.