Elysium
Two Stars (out of five)
2013. Rated R for violence and cursing. Running time 109 minutes. Released by Warner Home Entertainment. Equipped with closed captions, and English Subtitles. No special features on the DVD. This was reviewed on DVD on April 12, 2014.

Elysium is the second film from director Neill Blomkamp, who gave us the amazingly good District 9. Matt Damon stars here as Max, a worker in a devastated Los Angeles of the future. The reason LA is a wasteland is because the upper crust, the hoity-toity top one percent, have all left the planet to live on a giant spinning wheel-like space station known as Elysium. Max’s life is pretty crummy, getting roughed up by robotic cops (damn the man…uh, no, wait, damn the ’bots?) and dodging little kids who’re trying to roll him for his dough. But life becomes really short for Max when he becomes accidentally irradiated while on the job. Given a jar of pills, he’s dumped on the streets by the evil corporation.

But wait, as sick as he is, Max decides to rise up and fight for the people…by helping the local gangsters kidnap his evil boss. Yeah, that’s it, let’s turn to crime! This is after he gets rigged up with a metal skeleton that makes him super strong, but sadly it does nothing for his mental skills…I mean, Max means well, but he’s not too bright. Clear evidence of this can be seen when he fires a special rifle that brings down an aircraft, and then throws the gun away! Didn’t somebody explain to Max that guns work more than once? You can actually reload these things, and they even have more than one bullet in them.

Elysium proves to be a real shocker--in just how bad and how lamely thought out it is. I’m not sure if this is a case of Blomkamp slumming it, or a result of the dreaded studio interference (too many cooks breathing down his neck?), but Elysium falls far short of the heights that District 9 reached. Sharlto Copely, the star of D9, co-stars here as the bad guy--a balls-out crazy loon who’s not very intimidating, nor scary. He just comes off more like a really annoying little dog that thinks it’s tougher than it really is. And thank God for the captions, because I could barely understand him, thanks to his thick accent.

Speaking of bad accents, there’s also Jodie Foster, who plays the icy administrator responsible for security on Elysium. This two time Oscar winner (and one of my all-time favorite actresses) goes through the movie with such a laughably bad French accent that I just want to gently take her by the shoulders and say, "Jodie, what happened? I know you can do better than this?" But that’s the attitude I have with this whole movie: WTF happened?! This had so much potential, only to throw it away on a hysterically funny grudge match between Matt Damon and the wild eyed Copely, who’s calling him out like it’s the WWE. Wow…seriously, just wow! --SF

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