I don’t lay the ELYSIUM's failures entirely at Copley or Foster’s feet, but at Neill Blomkamp’s. ELYSIUM falls under the same problems that too many movies this summer seem to suffer – it can’t stick the landing. There are stunning visuals in ELYSIUM, and Blomkamp’s real-world science fiction works wonders here, especially with the robots and the ships, which are impeccably designed. But everything’s so heavy-handed, and with that heavy-handedness comes predictability and a tendency to shove so many themes down the audience’s throat - this is about immigration! This is about healthcare! This is about class warfare! - that it all sticks going down. There’s no room for the audience to play with ELYSIUM’s world. It’s all overpowering and obvious. With DISTRICT 9, you felt the open spaces of the world Blomkamp created; in ELYSIUM it all feels on rails.
I admire the message of ELYSIUM very much, and for some audiences, the blunt nature of the movie may work. Some people, frankly, need to be hit in the face with ELYSIUM’s message. But I’m not reviewing the message, I’m reviewing the movie. I can honestly say I enjoyed ELYSIUM very much, but that’s the science fiction geek in me more than anything. I love when filmmakers of Neill Blomkamp’s caliber – and he’s still a very talented filmmaker, regardless of ELYSIUM’s failings – use the genre to tell great stories and show us new possibilities. It’s at the mad rush to the finish that Blomkamp overplays his hand. The problem in ELYSIUM isn’t with the big stuff, it’s the little stuff – the everyday stuff, the stuff that matters, the stuff that makes any film world feel genuine. Blomkamp has important things to say, dammit, and it’s a good message. It is important. And with that in mind, you don’t undermine that message with sloppy filmmaking. ELYSIUM is never not interesting, is never not visually engaging. The science fiction geek in me loved ELYSIUM. It’s the storytelling geek in me that found so much of it lacking.