Orbital Revolutions

Elysium: written and directed by Neill Blomkamp; starring Matt Damon (Max), Jodie Foster (Delacourt), Sharlto Copley (Kruger) and Alice Braga (Frey) (2013): Elysium‘s somewhat more enjoyable a second time on a smaller screen. The implausibilities can now safely be ignored, for the most part — you already know they’re coming, and they’re still ridiculous. The telegraphing and over-explaining still grate at points. Do we really need to be reminded twice about things we saw at the beginning of a 100-minute-long movie? And does every hero have to turn into Jesus Christ?

On the other hand, Neill Blomkamp possesses a rare eye: the movie looks great even when it depicts an over-crowded dystopia. And the action sequences make sense: you can follow them, and they have moments of horror and beauty within them.

Blomkamp even gets real pathos out of Matt Damon and leering menace out of Sharlto Copley, the meek hero of his first movie. Jodie Foster seems pitch-perfect as the refined defense minister of the orbital habitat that gives the movie its title: she’s impeccably mannered and viciously inhuman.

With his left-wing attitudes now enshrined in two science-fiction movies (this and the superior District 13), Blomkamp needs someone in Hollywood to figure out the obvious and put him in charge of a Star Trek movie. His science-fiction-as-action-allegory approach could give us a Trek adventure more in line with the original series without sacrificing fist-fights and space-battles. Recommended.

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