“Elysium” brings new look to sci-fi

Marlee Newman

Photo credit: Google

“Elysium,” a science fiction film directed by Neil Blomkamp, lights up the screen and connects with viewers in a way that is exclusive to the genre. This left the audience immersed in the perfectly orchestrated atmosphere of a future Earth in 2154 as well as questioning the modern-day planet.

The heavy social and political commentary that hides beneath the surface in Blomkamp’s newest film works as a tool to entertain, but also confronts viewers about the current structure of society and social class, leaving the audience on the edge of itsseat, yet still asking important questions. “Elysium” is a great example of a film that manages to have style and substance, and creates a storyline that is both relatable and engaging.

The opening credits of “Elysium” immediately explain the state of chaos in 2154: The rich have escaped Earth to a simulated planet called Elysium so they can remain untouched by the pollution, disease and poverty that has overtaken their former homes. The poor, who cannot afford the journey to this new planet, must fight to survive on Earth. The message is clear and the tone of the film is set: Enjoy your popcorn and all the action the film has to offer, yet remain aware of the message it delivers about life outside the walls of the theater.

Max ( Matt Damon) is introduced in a scene that shows him trudging through his gritty neighborhood on Earth, which resembles the streets of a third-world country. Underdeveloped roads emit a haze of dust into the air and dirty children cling to him, searching his pockets for money. He is on his way to a factory job, leaving behind his implied past as a career criminal in hopes of creating a better life for himself.

In a moment of brilliant, symbolic irony, Max is revealed as a worker in a plant that assembles the corrupt robots that have replaced the police force and government officials on Earth. He must build the technology that was terrorizing him a moment before. These small details work in the film’s favor and create an atmosphere that remains believable despite its futuristic setting.

The main action of “Elysium” begins when Max becomes involved in an accident that leaves his body riddled with radioactivity, resulting in a sentence of only five days to live. This leaves him with one ultimatum: he must make it to Elysium in order to be healed. On the way, he comes into contact with his childhood friend and love interest, Frey (Alice Braga), and her daughter, who is also dying. A good-versus-evil theme is clearly outlined as Max and Frey fight against the perfectly awful “bad guy” Crowe (Josh Blacker). The ending, although not completely unexpected, is extremely action-packed yet emotional and leaves the audience wanting more.

If you are not typically into science-fiction, give “Elysium” a chance. This film reaches outside the confines of its genre and may still surprise those uninterested in the genre in the best way.