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Neill Blomkamp's Elysium


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Little White Lies' review has an interesting nugget in there:

Interestingly, Blomkamp’s initial script treatment had De Costa commit a Wikus-like act that would have changed things spectacularly. But it jarred so badly that he cut it. Perhaps because of Damon’s good-guy persona? Perhaps because De Costa isn’t quite wired with enough complex human circuitry? Who knows?

Frustratingly, it doesn't say what the "Wikus-like act" was. Maybe it was wearing a tank top and being a bit racist.
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It's stealing from the Frey and her daughter apparently. Watched an Elysium Special on Sky Movies the other day and they were interviewing MATT DAMON! and Blomkamp together and they mentioned that Damon had pushed for something to be removed and at first he'd disagreed but eventually felt the film was better for it.

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None of that would have made any difference considering the lack of anything interesting happening between any of the characters.

My main problems with the plot:

If the computer is in charge, why do they even need a government?

Why didn't they keep the flight ban till they had gotten the brain back from max

The only point of the wrist IDs seemed to be to operate the healing machines

If the dog guy or whatever he was called could immediately look at the code and see it was the Elysium OS, why wasn't he writing his own.

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Aye, but you could do the same thing with Lord Of The Rings, questioning why Sauron puts his essence into some stupid ring instead of just crushing everyone with his massive armies, and suchlike. I think the only thing that really didn't make sense was

at the end when they're all running around the habitat unmolested. Where are the security robots? It's like there was supposed to be some kind of mass trespass reducing the situation to chaos so that the main action could happen, but they just forgot to film it or something.

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Saw it at the IMAX yesterday. Gorgoeus production design - and you could see all kinds of echoes of the Halo film that might have been - and I found the whole set up for Elysium and the hoarding of medical bays totally believable - but FUCKING HELL the actual human story in this was so insanely uninspired, by numbers, dull and characterless. The scene where the daughter just launches into a fable about the meerkat and the hippo - I actually flinched with embarrasment at just how clumsy and fake the whole thing was. I didn't care about anyone. The only character I enjoyed was Wikkus and he was about as comic book a villain as you can expect. Blomkamp needs to allow a proper screenwriter to join the team and get on with his amazing flare for design and visuals, because if this man thinks Elysium had a story he is very wrong. Elysium was a great sci-fi world wrapped in the thinnest, flakiest, emotionally retardediest story you can imagine. The fact Matt Damon and Jodie Foster were cast in this is just a total waste, and overall this is what the film is - a total waste of the talent involved and the concept that started it all.

2/5

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I really enjoyed it, with the only negative to me being the ridiculously soppy ending.

that bit where the robot says "I can't arrest him, he's allowed here makes no sense, unless the only crime possible is trespassing. It was so maudlin I expected a post credits scene where Matt Damon comes back to life

But yeah, apart from that, all good.

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The nit picking in this thread is unreal, it's a film for fucksake, not everything has to explained to the letter. The plot is perfectly functionary but the real star of the film is the set design and FX. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I left the cinema and I can't wait to see it again without the hype train in full swing. There's nothing out this year that's like Elysium, and no one else seems to be trying, and this is only the directors second effort....I continue to expect great things from Mr Blomkamp in the future.

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at the end when they're all running around the habitat unmolested. Where are the security robots? It's like there was supposed to be some kind of mass trespass reducing the situation to chaos so that the main action could happen, but they just forgot to film it or something.

I was under the impression the Robot guards were under the secretary's orders, at the time she was bleeding to death so couldn't issue an order to them. It's her that orders them to round up the immigrants at the start of the film. Remembering that Elysium is supposed to a be a habitat free of war and savagery, there should be no automated armed response unit, same way they don't have rocket defense systems. They have people on the earth willing to do the killing for them, and how they deal with immigrants is down to whoever is in charge.... and most of them were being taken out by Cyber Wikus' men in his coup attempt

Still better than Prometheus/10

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The nit picking in this thread is unreal, it's a film for fucksake, not everything has to explained to the letter. The plot is perfectly functionary but the real star of the film is the set design and FX.

So you basically don't care as long as there are good FX.

You then can't criticise people for having problems with it.

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I just re watched D9. God it's good.

You feel through that film, proper disgust, anger, pity and happiness. Watching it again showed up just how flat and pale Elysium is. Such a pity really. With all those resources and talent it could have been amazing given what was done on D9 for what, 30 million dollars?

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So you basically don't care as long as there are good FX.

You then can't criticise people for having problems with it.

No, it's the nature of "problems" like these:

None of that would have made any difference considering the lack of anything interesting happening between any of the characters.

My main problems with the plot:

If the computer is in charge, why do they even need a government?

Why didn't they keep the flight ban till they had gotten the brain back from max

The only point of the wrist IDs seemed to be to operate the healing machines

If the dog guy or whatever he was called could immediately look at the code and see it was the Elysium OS, why wasn't he writing his own.

This isn't film criticism, this is misguidedly looking for some sort of realism. You are not watching a simulation of a flawlessly functioning future society, you're watching a film in which those elements are used as allegory and are there to convey ideas. Those aren't issues that need to be "fixed", it's like complaining about the anatomical incorrectness of the Mona Lisa lady or whatever.

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The characters were universally unsympathetic, the 'love' story hackneyed and tacked on. The performances were all over the place. The production design was good, and the cinematography was pretty good but the same shots were reused too often.

The plot just puddled along in a similar way to Prometheus, with no tension.

The plot holes were symptoms of having a decent idea but no idea how to write it for the screen.

But did I mention the FX! Actually, not really all that jaw dropping to look at to be honest. It looked great, but there was nothing that made me go 'wow!'.

It was pretty boring and far too heavy handed for any messages to linger.

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I found this disappointingly mediocre. The basic premise - a division between the rich and the poor - is so well trodden and yet nothing new is done with it, which created a feeling of a glacial pace as I waited for something interesting to happen. It rarely did. Every character retained the single dimension they started with, everybody took the obvious path you expected them to, nobody surprised.

But what disappointed more, really, was the flashes of something good underneath. The design is great, the ludicrous gibs delightfully satisfying, and Kruger made for a decent villain. Had it decided to go for straight action, I might have been singing its praises. Had it told an interesting story, likewise.

For the page's record, I loved DIstrict 9.

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I agree with each of your criticisms, yet still felt overall that the good stuff carried me through the lackluster bits.

That's great. I've no personal vendetta against people who like what I don't. My girlfriend liked it, but she agrees with my problems with it. It just didn't engage with me and trying to attribute that to one thing doesn't work. I was definitely willing it to sweep me along with it and it just didn't.

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Just seen this, not as good as WALL-E. But I kind of liked it. Reminded me of a daft 80's action sci-fi film and the story actually works within its own rules and is good fun. I think its problems come from not knowing how serious to take itself, so the tone sometimes seems a bit off, like the baddie either being a panto villain or genuine monster. And the pacing is a bit shit and also flashbacks.

It does include my favourite bit of computer hacking in a film. Where a dude simply changes the word Illegal to legal in some code and then instantly changes ALL the laws.

There is also a talking alarm clock like it's from the future? You have been able to buy those for at least twenty years. And if it wasn't part of the futuristic landscape they where trying to create then why would he have a talking alarm clock? No one has one of those. I can't sympathise with anyone who has a talking alarm clock.

And the exo-suits or whatever look a bit technics lego. It was good though.

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but the real star of the film is the set design and FX.

Do you go to see films for the set design and FX? Do good set design and FX make a film? Because I would say I require a little more - a decent plot, interesting characters, good performances, a tight script.

I have seen a lot of people praising this film by talking almost entirely about the 'look' and the 'world' with nary a reference to acting, scripting, cinematography and so on. It reminds me of the empty gushing around awful games that people praise because they love the graphics, a particular art style or some element of the setting.

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Do you go to see films for the set design and FX? Do good set design and FX make a film? Because I would say I require a little more - a decent plot, interesting characters, good performances, a tight script.

I have seen a lot of people praising this film by talking almost entirely about the 'look' and the 'world' with nary a reference to acting, scripting, cinematography and so on. It reminds me of the empty gushing around awful games that people praise because they love the graphics, a particular art style or some element of the setting.

I thought the plot was great, it was just that the characterisation was a bit basic. There was nothing wrong with it per se, but it felt undeveloped and nowhere near as accomplished as the film’s other aspects. It’s a shame, but the film was so successful in pretty much every single other respect that I can overlook that. I’d use a Half Life 2 analogy – I love Half Life 2, but don’t enjoy the actual game bit all that much. The shooting is nowhere near as interesting or compelling as something like Halo or even something like FEAR, but it’s still a fantastic game and probably one of my all-time favourites.

You might think that a first person shooter having bobbins shooting is a bit of a show-stopper, but it somehow prevails, and I’d say the same thing about Elysium – the characters are a bit rubs, but it immersed me in a fascinating, completely convincing world for its duration, and that is a rare thing.

Also, it’s basically a socialist SF action movie, and as such it seems to have been made solely to delight me.

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This was such a strange film. Even though there was so much wrong with it (script, plot, characters, Jodie Foster, meerkats etc) I absolutely loved it.

It was so beautiful to look at. The Halo was the nicest thing I’ve seen on a cinema screen in years. The sharpness and detail of it was incredible. And I loved the contrast with Earth and the battered vehicles and landscapes. The robot cops, the exo-skel design and the Earth space ships were fantastic.

Some bits were ridiculous like when the mercenaries were able to work out what the program was after looking at the code for about 30 seconds. And I still don’t understand how Spider and his crew of idiots were able to get to Elysium without getting shot down.

It’s a hundred million dollar socialist polemic. Verhoeven would be proud.

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I didn't get into this at all. The premise sounded good but I found the execution to be poor. I didn't engage with any of the characters, and I found myself bored through large parts of the film. I was also disappointed with the action sequences. There weren't enough for my liking and like a lot of action films these days, I found it hard to tell what was happening.

edit - while I appreciate people liking the world created, I much preferred the world created in Dredd.

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Do you go to see films for the set design and FX?

In this instance, yes.

Having read the feedback in this thread I knew what I was getting, and I'd say it's definitely worth seeing just for the visuals. I enjoyed it, but it's a shame that the world itself was so solid and believable yet the story and characters weren't at all. I think it would have been better if the plot didn't revolve around taking over the whole space station, the future of humanity etc - it was too short and lacking in detail to sell that plot to me and had to rely on goofy hacking scenes to move the story along. Compare it with the similarly grungy and brief Dredd, which was just about taking a tower block back off some bad guys. I could get behind that a lot more.

When you've got something as interesting and awesome as a vast landscaped habitat hanging in orbit above a ravaged Earth, you want some little hints about the wider world - how did it come to pass? What's day-to-day life like up there? Why doesn't the station have its own defences? That kind of stuff doesn't have to take over, but that's what helps sell the story. Blade Runner is quite an introverted, small tale about a downtrodden detective reluctantly hunting down some robots, but you can get fully immersed in the world in which it's set because there is just a hint of a wider context - exotic off-world colonies, the role of replicants in society etc. Elysium had amazingly detailed environments and production design but felt very sketchy everywhere else.

While I appreciated the point about there being enough healthcare today to heal the world, it was delivered so simplistically that it ended up posing the opposite question: a whole bunch of EMS shuttles come and land in one little area of LA - how many squillions would be needed to help the entire population of Earth? It's not possible is it? There'd be riots, Elysium would get over-run, people would be tearing each other apart. So I ended up thinking: if I'd contributed to some private enterprise to build a huge paradise in space, of course I wouldn't want billions of people trying to squeeze onto it - there's not enough room!

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