Movie Marathon #15: Elysium (Guest Post)

by thethreepennyguignol

I’d very much like to welcome a guest author for this post-the formidable talent of my father Steve, and his quite expressive reaction to Elysium which I received via email from Thailand this morning. You can find more of his bloody brilliant writing (well, I must get it from somewhere) here, here and here.

Saw Elysium last night. Also read your review. I agreed with most of it, but overall I think you were too kind. It was no more than a loose grouping of ideas stolen from a range of sources. Elysium was a straight copy of Citadel from the computer game Mass Effect (look at the screenshot – it’s so close I’m surprised no-one seems to have mentioned it). The look of the dystopian earth (and how bored I am with dystopian Earths!) is a straight lift from the second Mad Max film. The plot, if you can call it that, had all the depth and complexity of a teletubbies episode. With pathos added by the wheelbarrow-load just in case you didn’t get it – the little girl dying of leukemia who tells the parable of the meerkat and the hippo. I guess it was supposed to get you right in the heart, but it caused me only an involuntary spasm of the lower bowel.

And don’t get me started on a dying Earth, polluted and starved of resources, but where all the characters are plump and healthy looking (including the little girl in the terminal stages of cancer) with great teeth and men who clearly manage to spend several hours a day in the gym despite their poverty-stricken lives. And then there’s Sharlto Copley, notable only for the ability to flex his muscles and shout in a funny accent, who for no discernible reason dons an exoskeleton to fight Matt Damon (I mean, it’s not as if he was short of guns…) and then decides to make himself President of Elysium. And Jodie Foster, who’s death when it arrived meant nothing at all. And Matt Damon’s death, where we were bludgeoned with the terrible pathos of it all (“Tell her I understand about the hippo”) in a way that had me spluttering indignantly over my choc ice. And a plot so full of holes that it looked like a string vest (to take one minor example, Elysium has all this technology and wealth, and how do they defend themselves against attack? By depending on a renegade agent on Earth who has less than five minutes to nip out to a mysterious parked van and launch the requisite missiles. What if he’d been dropping a big one on the bog? Or his car wouldn’t start? Or he was watching something really, really good on TV and couldn’t be arsed? Wouldn’t it have been logical to build some sort of defense system on Elysium?).

I agree that Spider was probably the least crap character. But he was still a long way short of plausible or engaging.

Pah! What an utter waste of time, money and effort. For me and all the poor souls involved with making this dreck. It’s not often you’ll hear me say this, but I actually preferred Pacific Rim. At least it was cheerfully and unashamedly crap, and had a sort of childish exuberance that prevented me from lapsing into a coma.