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Elysium: Expected Too Much

Saw Elysium yesterday. What stayed in mind were two things: great production design and the most annoying accent ever in a movie villain.

Elysium trailer screenshots (C) TriStar PIctures

Just like in District 9, director Neill Blomkamp has a thing for gritty sci-fi technology. There are cool firearms and space shuttle designs that seem to have evolved naturally from today’s technology. The computer displays and interfaces on the other hand are a bit backwards for the year 2100-something. Some look more like 90s era LCD wristwatches.

Elysium trailer screenshots (C) TriStar PIctures

Apart from the obvious things (space station etc.) it’s hard to make out exactly which shots are CG. Probably most aerial shots and all the police robots. The VFX and composites really are fantastic.

In the end, however, the movie didn’t quite satisfy me. It got boring even though you were supposed to care for the hero’s mission. (This is why I enjoyed Pacific Rim so much as an action movie: It didn’t include a cheesy “hero needs to save his love interest’s sick child from dying” subplot!)

The movie’s villains suffered from severe cases of overacting: I haven’t seen Jodie Foster in a while but she sure likes to make it obvious with every syllable that she’s playing an evil person. The movie’s other prominent villain has what I guess is a genuine South African accent but it made him laughable like those fan-made Youtube clips where people are dubbing movies with silly voices.

7/10 (the “better than average” level)

Looper: Closing a year of over-hyped sci-fi flicks.

Ok. Time-travel movies are impossible to get right. But come on… people have tried harder in the past.

Looper – the “next Matrix” or whatever it gets called in the hype machine that is cinema in 2012 – starts witty and fast, but its initial idea gets tangled up by time paradoxes and it gets slower and slower. The production design is nice, but the random outbursts of sadistic violence sickened me. Yes, Bruce Willis is bad-ass as always. But it feels like he was cast simply because Looper feels like a bad adaptation of Twelve Monkeys.

Instead of trying to evade time paradoxes, Looper’s script writers even go over the top in that they are introducing us to people with telekinetic abilities early on in the film. Then they completely forget about them and their implications on society for the rest of the movie (and about 30 years into the future).

Why not introduce fire-breathing dragons as well? If you can just get rid of time paradoxes at will and you already have X-Men in the movie… why not go ALL the way?

Still… 7 out of 10 for stylistically fusing the 1950s and 2040’s 🙂


I enjoyed that movie. Even though it had a bunch of silly moments they didn’t ruin the movie for me as they did in “The Dark Knight Rises“.

The movie’s genre is less science fiction (since everything in the plot that has a “science” label on it is so stupid it hurts) and more a stock splatter/horror movie where people get killed off one by one because of their obviously stupid and careless actions. The plot is advanced by stupidity only, to be honest. If anybody would act like scientists instead of school children on a field trip to the zoo, there would be no plot.

But again, that didn’t keep me from enjoying Prometheus. It was adequately scary and gross and there was a lot of eye-candy. I don’t care if it doesn’t answer some things or whether it is a seamless prequel to Alien. So yes, I liked it for its looks, not for its personality.

What made me scratch my head though was Roger Ebert’s raving four-star review of Prometheus. Magnificent – intriguing – spellbinding! Seriously? It was high production value popcorn cinema. But it certainly doesn’t deserve adjectives that Ebert usually uses on obscure art-house dramas.

The 3D trailer for Resident Evil, on the other hand, was the worst thing I ever had to endure behind stereo glasses.

Link: The Editing Room’s abridged script for Prometheus touches on all the plot holes.

7/10 (the “better than average” level)