Elysium (Neill Blomkamp, 2013)


Lucía, Jun-Dai, and Ben at the Sundance Kabuki at 21:45 on 10 August.

Both the premise of the film and the special effects are quite remarkable. The visual spectacle of a giant wheel in space spinning fast enough to hold in atmosphere without sealing it in is a pretty good selling point for the film. Unfortunately, like so many other science fiction films these days, the pattern is the same: begin with awe and end with mindless action. The quality of the film drops off dramatically as it progresses, and while the story and acting weren’t great to begin with, it becomes so ridiculous and meaningless that by the end of the film it’s pretty much impossible to feel any emotional reaction to anything that’s going on. It’s a shame, because the setting of the film is so imaginative and well-visualised—I felt sort of ripped off when I realised that it was all just a hook to get me into the film. Oblivion, Man of Steel, and After Earth all followed this same pattern (Prometheus followed a different pattern. It was still a mix of half trashy action movie and half high-brow thought-provoking entertainment, but instead of going from one end to the other, it just went back and forth throughout).

Is it so inconceivable that someone could make a good science fiction film spectacle that ends as well as it begins and doesn’t seem stupider the more you think about it? I suppose Inception and The Matrix are sort of halfway there, even if they’re not quite on the level of Alien, Blade Runner, and Brazil.

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