Today: July 16, 2024


In a summer rife with remakes, sequels and superheroes, Elysium stood-out as a rare blockbuster of originality.  After the success of District 9 much was expected of writer director Neil Blomkamp.  Having seen his planned adaptation of video game Halo fall through, Blomkamp was out to prove that he’s one of Hollywood’s elite at setting the benchmark for intelligent and engaging sci-fi.

In 2154 Earth has become a hive of scum, poverty and disease.  The rich decide to leave the planet and orbit Earth in the heavenly habitat of Elysium where everything is perfect.  When lowly factory worker Max (Matt Damon) is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation he’s told that he only has five days to live.  Aware that if he can get to Elysium he can be cured, Max strikes a deal with gangster Spider (Wagna Moura) to steal Elysium access codes in exchange for a ticket to the space station.  But head of Elysium security Delacourt (Jodie Foster) has other ideas and assigns mercenary agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to stop Max in his tracks.

While the story for Elysium plays out like a computer game, with each plot point and set-piece seemingly upping the ante without really increasingly the threat level, it is hard not to be enthralled by the world Blomkamp has created.  Sticking with the decaying aesthetic of District 9, Elysium’s Earth is a dusty, detritus filled hell hole.  Juxtaposing this to the perfection, gleaming haven that is Elyisum works.  As District 9 dealt heavily in themes of Apartheid so Elysium cultivates ideas of the rich happily seeing us poorpers suffer, so long as they can’t really see it happening.

Throw in an endlessly inventive array of weaponry, the kind that would make most Metal Gear Solid fans weep with joy, and Elysium is an immersive and stunningly realised world.  If nothing else it confirms Blomkamp as being something of a sci-fi master, in the same early vein as a young James Cameron or Ridley Scott.

Damon’s Max, coming across as an inked up, slightly cocky Jason Bourne, he is not the most interesting protagonist to invest in but his journey, in the always reliable hands of one of Hollywood’s most likable screen presences, is nonetheless engaging.  Yes, the Christ-like metaphors are rammed home a little too hard but when Max spends most of the film reaching for the heavens it feels apt.  Jodie Foster seems to be sporting one of cinema’s most unusual accent choices, somewhere between villainous British and drunk French.  Her Delacourt is too boo-hiss to be anything other than stereotypical.  Meanwhile Copley is clearly reveling in his hardened henchman role.  Kruger is arguably the most interesting character on offer, a ruthless mercenary happy to inflict violence but would rather not do it in front of children.  The harsh South African accent seems to be in place merely to enforce his evil ways but in Copely’s hands Kruger is hard not to enjoy, especially when he’s getting tooled up and medieval on Matt Damon.

Flawed narrative aside Elysium is a visually arresting and stunning realisation of a believably future.  On this form Blomkamp can be heralded as a filmmaker whose work will always remain original and smart.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

Previous Story

FilmJuice’s Best Films Of 2013

Next Story

Upstream Colour

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Inside No 9 Complete Collection Unboxing

Earlier this year, one of the finest television creations in the history of the medium came to a poignant conclusion after 9 impeccable seasons. Over 55 self-contained episodes, Inside No 9 made

A Bittersweet Life Unboxing

Taking a brief detour from horror, Second Sight Films have given their much-loved Limited Edition treatment to South Korean neo-noir thriller A Bittersweet Life (2005). Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon may jump wildly around

The Conversation Unboxing

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece of paranoia The Conversation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and StudioCanal are marking the occasion with this utterly beautiful Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray release that even

Halo Season Two Unboxing

While the Halo TV series continues to be controversial with longtime ‘fans’ of the franchise for petty reasons, this year’s explosive second season certainly marked an improvement over the first. With better

Inside Out 2

Pixar’s output has for a while now been a little hit and miss. For every amazing Soul there was an underwhelming Lightyear. Returning to previous successes has also been a mixed bag
Go toTop

Don't Miss

WIN! Elysium on 4K Blu-ray!


Elysium 4K

When director Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene in 2009