Elysium: A Future with a Few Rich and Lots and Lots of Poor
by Stanley Heller
I had very high hopes for "Elysium", a sci-fi movie about the end of this century when the whole Earth is filled with poverty and overpopulation while the elite live in a fabulous space station orbiting the earth. It was an obvious dig at the way things are going now.
Some of it was very good, depressing scenes of Earth, graffiti covered slum housing, the industrial accident caused by a prick of a foreman under pressure from the billionaire owner, the parallels with "illegal" immigrants as desperate earth people try to make it to the satellite, the android police officers at checkpoints and in a comic scene with a parole officer android.
But the second half of the movie was mostly just dumb violence, endless fighting scenes between Damon and Afrikkans accented Sharlto Copley who plays an enthusiastic mercenary enforcing the naked exploitation.
What was missing was the ruling class rationale for the way things were, the excuses, perhaps a trendy racism, or a futuristic religion that would justify the treatment of the masses of despised Earthlings. Nor was there any way shown for even a few of the billions on Earth to could ever get up to the sky, a hope that elites always dangle as a way of maintaining control of the lower classes. "Total Recall" was much superior in those respects.
It was like a 1950's movie as far as women go. Yes, Jodie Foster was he leading baddie, but pretty one dimensional, just driven by personal ambition. For the good guys only one woman, Alice Braga had a real part. She was a nurse and mostly she waited around for Damon to save her and her little girl.
It was a '50's movie in another aspect. At the start of the move we're told the earth is full of disease and over population. Ho hum. That's the best they could come up with? The most obvious cause for future planetary disaster should be obvious to a filmmaker in 2013, the effects of global warming, but that was nowhere to be seen.
There were a few gangsters turned rebels who work with Damon at the end, but no revolutionary movement in the streets. Hasn't filmmaker Neill Blomkamp watched what happened in Tunisia or Egypt? Why no futuristic worldwide uprising?
There was another sci-fi movie earlier in the earlier in the year with some good political aspects. The movie was "Oblivion" starring Tom Cruise. He plays a drone repairman on a future Earth that has been invaded by deep space creatures. Eventually he finds out he's been tricked and he becomes a drone destroyer! The good guys are a whole group even though Tom does most of the heroics. Don't fear. I didn't give it all away. There are plenty of interesting twists in the plot. Think it's just out on DVD. Worth renting at Redbox for a buck.