After the wildly refreshing "District 9", Neil Blomkamp's back to bring yet another gritty vision of a dystopian future ala "Elysium".
"Elysium" consists of the same bread and butter formula of "District 9": Cathartic, entertaining action coupled with a cautionary tale that's relevant with today's world issues. And what breathtaking action it is; it's quick, blunt, and visceral. Where action flicks like the James Bond films entertain audiences by harmoniously balancing the fisticuffs action, gunplay, and the cunning use of environmental dangers, "Elysium"'s action is best when it displays the imaginative weaponry of its universe -- it's that simple. Of course, it wouldn't be as entertaining as it is if it weren't for its dazzling special effects.
But what helps "Elysium" stand on its own amongst its competition within the action/sci-fi genre is its message -- a message that's relevant to contemporary times. The future, much like "District 9", is dark, dreary, and left with even more problems than we have it in 2014. Despite the rawness and dizzying violence that Blomkamp portrays, the cathartic action and ingeniously crafted weaponry envisioned by the crafty mind of Blomkamp interestingly shows Blomkamp's inner child -- a sucker for cool guns and awesome exploding bodies which helps tone down the dreariness of its narrative. For the most part, the message is clear and direct, easy enough for the average joe to spot, but this message and the cathartic action is all "Elysium" devotes to. Audiences soon realize that the characters are crafted as mere cogs in a machine, all in the name conveying a message relevant to contemporary times. Yes, the characters undergo the same emotional tropes a real person may feel, but their side of the story gets lost in the dust.
Where "District 9" had an incredibly captivating universe, a relevant message, and character development that was truly commanding, "Elysium" has all but the latter. Thus, "Elysium"'s lasting effect is a bludgeoning one -- one that will be quickly forgotten especially when Oscar season hits. Don't get me wrong: "Elysium" was fantastic fun, but even though the message had good intentions and may be relevant with our times, it's simply not relevant on a personal level.