'Extraordinary' Elysium mixes sci-fi thrills and social message
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in stunning new film from District 9 director Neil Blomkamp
What you need to know
The science-fiction action thriller Elysium opens at UK cinemas today. The film, from South-African director Neil Blomkamp (District 9), stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.
In 2154, the poor live on an exhausted, poverty-stricken Earth, while a wealthy elite live on a luxurious man-made space station called Elysium, protected by vicious anti-immigration forces. ASFter being exposed to radiation in a factory accident on Earth, Max (Damon) pays a people smuggler to take him to Elysium for medical care. His actions will have consequences for the rest of humanity.
Jodie Foster appears as Elysium's ambitious Secretary of Defence, Jessica Delacourt. Alice Braga is Frey, an old friend of Max with a terminally ill child.
What the critics like This is a "classic Aldous Huxley-George Orwell-Ray Bradbury rebel-against-a-monolithic-dystopia scenario, in the muscular, mechanoid-fetish '80s/'90s James Cameron-Paul Verhoeven action-movie manner", says Kim Newman in Empire. Blomkamp stages extraordinary, visceral moments, and confirms he is one of the potential science-fiction greats of this decade.
Elysium is a "beautifully packaged" mix of social commentary (immigration and distribution of wealth) and action, says Ryan Lambie at Den of Geek. Stunning to look at and often breathlessly exciting, it's another marvellous genre film from Blomkamp.
After a summer of bloated, moribund films, Elysium is angry and alive, says Anthony Lane in the New Yorker. Told with force and impatience, unlike Star Trek Into Darkness or Man of Steel, it doesn't just look and sound right - it smells.
What they don't like This "politically charged flight of speculative fiction makes an exciting launch, only to tailspin into an ungainly crash landing", says Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter. Damon is a credible ticking time bomb, and the plot promises intellectual complexity, but it soon narrows into the standard gun battles and explosions, and ends in mawkish sentimentality. ·