Wednesday 21 August 2013


Well, blow me down! At last a film without either Helena Bon-bon Carter or Kristin Scotch-egg Thomas! (That was for you, J.G.!)  Was beginning to surmise that it was obligatory to include one or t'other. But pray don't get me wrong. I do especially like.....well, one of them. 
Btw: Did you realise that if the former had a second given name of Susan, Sheila, Sandra etc - as she might well have, for all I know -her initials would be.....HSBC? - Surely an actress one could bank on to give a sterling performance.

Notwithstanding a fairly sniffy review on BBC Radio 4 a couple of nights ago, I enjoyed this.
One thing Jodie Foster could never be accused of is being over-exposed. It's always a particular pleasure to see her, made even moreso by her appearances being so relatively rare.
Here she is, in her trademark act of steely, blinkered determination, which she does so well. Pity that her on-screen time in total is not considerable - and she doesn't share any scene at all with Damon.

The story is set in mid-next century, the over-populated earth having become little more than a rubbish dump, with its inhabitants scrambling about like ants to survive and eke out a living, determined by those lucky enough to be living apart.
These very affluent people live outside this hell - by emigrating to a huge, earth-orbiting space-station (named 'Elysium') containing all the earth-known luxuries, with plenty of 'stretching space' to boot. (There's more than a slight resemblance to South African director Blomkamp's equally enjoyable 'District 9' of 4 years ago. Both feature parallel 'societies' as well as lots of robots. )
I found the visuals particularly impressive (I saw it on a BIG screen) with details reminscent of '2001 - A Space Odyssey' of nearly 50 years ago, when C.G.I. was still an impossible dream. The congested-earth scenes, shot from above, are also remarkably effective.

Matt Damon shows again why he's one of the very best actors of the currently middle-aged generation, though in this the emotion is almost exclusively angst-driven in him being a lone, self-sacrificing hero (with added physical features in the way of 'attachments') against a motley of villains, and culminating in the predictable climactic fist-fight with the arch-baddie. Of course if one strips away the science-fiction and the gadgetry it's a very formulaic story, but I was nontheless impressed. There's also an 'uplifting' sentimental coda. But apart from that it was pretty much action all the way.

I made my exit from the cinema feeling I'd got my money's worth....................7/10


  1. Visually, this movie really delivers. An amazing follow-up to the gritty "District 9." And again, Matt proves why he is one of our best actors - going from Scott to Max. Can't wait to see Mr. Damon's next film.

  2. Good to hear from you again, Paul. I was wondering if you were on holiday or......Maybe the films I've seen since the last time you made a comment haven't appealed, or haven't been picked up by your radar.

    Glad you also liked this one - but I'm not too surprised as our respective tastes seem to display an uncanny congruency.
    It's a very gritty film, with one or two grisly scenes - but, as you say, it fully lives up to expectations. I also think that director Blomkamp is proving himself a name to be watched.

  3. Lol....I did titter at the scotch egg reference

  4. Well, J.G., must confess I was a teensy bit nervous as I know that you have enormous respect for both these actresses, so anyone making fun of either would be liable to become objects of your terrible wrath. Therefore you can appreciate my relief to discover it was not to be.

  5. I love sci-fi but i am tired of future dystopia films; really too depressing for me, and all too repetitive it seems.
    Still, I enjoy reading the story lines; I liked your post.

  6. Yes, Dr Spo. I agree that they do tend, rather oddly, to depict a world where society splits into those who have and those who haven't, usually with the latter yearning to be part of the former. The 'split society' scenario goes at least back to H.G.Wells' 'Time Machine' - and even much further back than that, I dare say.

    I don't usually go for sci-fi, either on screen or in fication. Films featuring space travel always irritate me the most, with their inaccuracies - the really big one being there being sound in the virtual vacuum of space, as happens yet again in this film.

    Since I write this post I think all the reviews of 'Elysium' that I've read have been thiumbs-down. So what can I do? Pretend now that I didn't like it after all?

    1. Ursula K LeGuin once wrote all sci-fi describes the present and its concerns/anxieties and issues; it does not describe the future.

  7. Dr Spo, although that seems a fair enough comment (and who can deny that it's true?) it also sounds a bit like a 'let-out' clause. Of course sci-fi by its nature is nothing but flights of fancy and imagination, though a lot of it is put out as a good guess of what's going to, or might, happen. As long as one doesn't take it as a reliable forecast, then I see no harm in it.

    Btw: It amazed me how people can dismiss my absolute all-time favourite film, '2001: A Space Oddysey' because it didn't happen to be true for that year, or likely to be near the 'truth' for still many years to come. Anyone ought to see that the year Arthur C. Clarke chose was a shorthand symbol for the future generally, and he could have equally validly designated ANY chronological year yet to arrive.

  8. Thanks for the review. I saw the trailer for this when I saw Pacific Rim. It looks interesting. And there are worse ways to spend a summer afternoon than sitting in a cool, dark place watching Matt Damon.

  9. H.K., the less-than-enthusiastic reviews of this film keep coming, and I've been starting to wonder if my own enjoyment had been misplaced. But my reaction was honest and I can't change that.
    As one who's not in Damon's fan base (at least as far as looks are concerned) maybe I'm well placed to judge the film dispassionately. But you're right. If you like him especially, then that's an added bonus.

  10. oooohhh I have been told by 2 others that they would go to the cinema again to see it. High praise. I hope to see it soon

  11. Sol, so I'm not alone! It would certainly look significantly better on a large screen so I can well understand why '2 others' wish to pay good money to see it again in that format. I would too if I was flushed with dosh. Looking forward to your own verdict.

  12. Matt Damon is slightly more than 4 years older than me... I had hoped that I had more than that to go before being "Middle Aged"...

  13. Andrew, all I can say is "Count your blessings!" I look back with considerable nostalgia to my own middle-aged years. :-)

  14. Ray, I bloody loved it! I wish I could see it again. I will be buying it when it is on DVD.

    Did you watch that programme black out. OMG it made my heart race and I was quite scared. the footage is from the riots a few years ago. Very scary stuff

  15. Pleased you're so positive about it, Sol. It's divided opinion in a big way, the majority seem to think it as disappointing, but I don't regret my upbeat review. Like you, I'd happily sit through it again.
    I'm afraid my memory needs prodding about what you refer to as the "programme black out". But my adrenalin was flowing freely on a number of occasions during the course of the film.

  16. here is the link

    I liked this film and others. I don't like to think about how much we are messing up our world. but there are many things from SCI FI films that are becoming real now and in the last 15 years, we are making huge leaps forward. Yes I am a nerd, a real one not this fashionable nerd crap that is about on tshirts of young girls with too short skirts, but more the when you were at school your head got flushed for it nerd!

    Watch lots of star trek this morning and the last few days. it has made me feel better! lol

  17. Okay, Sol, I with you now. (I thought that you were referring to a part of 'Elysium' wich I couldn't remember.)
    I did see just the first 20 mins or so of 'Black Out' but couldn't stay awake any longer, it being way past my bed-time.
    Yes, some S.F. has really foretold what was to come to pass, but by no means all. I think the changing to more extremes of weather is one of the more accurate predictions, though (luckily?) I won't be around to see it reach the full extent of its powers, which at any rate will by then be too late for mankind to do anything about, unless we've ALL woken up about it long before that day arrives.