Philosofiction

Steve Bein, writer & philosopher

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Elysium: Best SF film of the year?

I saw Elysium last night, and I was totally blown away. Neill Blomkamp does not disappoint. I don’t use this comparison often, but this film is in the same vein as Blade Runner.

The last time I compared a movie to
Blade Runner, it was Blomkamp’s District 9, which to my mind remains one of the best SF films of the modern era. So to say that Elysium isn’t quite as good as District 9 is no insult; movies that good only come around once every five or ten years. Like District 9, Children of Men, and Blade Runner, Elysium gives us a world so gritty that you almost feel you have to wash up. The CGI is seamless, but more than this, the visual effects are fully real because so much thought has been devoted to how technology has advanced in this bright-and-dark future.

So why are the critics panning this film? I just don’t get it. It’s true that
Elysium is another expression of Blomkamp’s fascination with the interplay of the haves and have-nots, but who cares, so long as the interplay is engaging? Sharlto Copley’s character may be a reprisal of the rogue mercenary sociopath in District 9, but at least it’s Copley we get to see reprising the role. He’s brilliant. This isn’t a knock-off, it isn’t a brainless summer action flick, and it certainly isn’t “another X-Box allegory” as it was dubbed by The Onion’s AV Club (still my favorite source of movie reviews, though I think they got this one all wrong).

As a superhero movie guy, I had a great summer:
Iron Man 3 was fun, The Wolverine was better, and Man of Steel knocked my socks off. People don’t seem to think of them this way, but all three of those are sci-fi films, and so it’s a big deal for Elysium to blow them out of the water. I haven’t seen Europa Report yet, and I’ve got high hopes for it, but at this point Elysium is my top sci-fi film of the year.