I love good sci-fi movies that are credible and about something. Trouble is most are hampered by stupid scripts, sly winks to camera or bizarre logic twists that let the side down.
For me Elysium is about as good as none-sequel, none comic/game sci-fi epics get these days.
Edgy, epic, rarely dull and stunning to look at.
However, 20 minutes in I wished heroic Max (Matt Damon) would get a break - and not just his arm from a cop droid.
A blue collar worker in a sweaty, decrepit LA, he proved gripping and believable from the word go.
Aside from that injury (for expressing a sense of humour in front of the authorities), he got a lethal dose of radiation and had an exo skeleton bolted onto his body.
By the time Robo Matt appeared I breathed a slight sigh of relief, but knew his ordeal was far from over.
Desperate to reach the eponymous space station and complete a ’vital cerebral info download’ mission, the long suffering Max clashed with psycho South African Kruger (a scenery-chewing Sharlto Copley) and his army of goons, endorsed by one of Elysium’s big cheeses, Delacourt (Jodie Foster).
It's a crying shame that design genius Syd Mead, Richard Taylor and the brilliant Weta crew created a stunning future world, yet Foster’s badly dubbed voice let the side down.
Spaghetti Westerns have had more verbal credibility.
In a pre-screening blog, I’d mentioned I wanted to see something special, and it was. I was even moved a couple of times, partly because the concept of a device that could cure cancer was so desirable, and the scene when medical shuttles are launched to help the sick on Earth left me a tad emotional.
Imagine a world where the ill got the attention they needed, and not just based on their bank balance. A glorious dream.
Elysium is not perfect by any means. Too many slow motion shots; Frey, Alice Braga’s nurse, was compelling, but whenever she repeated the name ’Max’ it grated, and the shaky cam shots were annoying.
But these are small niggles.
Elysium had a broad canvas to fill and did such an admirable job I was left craving another hour, or immediate sequel.
Even the score was great (aside from the Lisa Gerrard/Gladiator/The Insider-style wailing) and kept me in my seat for most of the closing credits.
Okay, the space ring idea is nothing new in sci-fi, having been explored countless times, from Larry Niven’s Ringworld series to the hit game saga Halo (which seems to have dominated my life for the past decade).
However, rarely has it looked so good on the big screen.
The fact writer/director Neill Blomkamp was going to make a movie version of Halo is apparent in several scenes, but in many ways I'm glad that never saw the light of day.
Game adaptations are nearly always disappointing; better to forge something relatively new and create a fresh universe worthy of revisiting than a pale imitation of a button-bashing saga.
Personally I wished the next chapter was already available, with or without Matt.
Elysium is one world well worth returning to.