Neill Blomkamp

July 17, 2018

(Ep. 107): The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: July 2018

 It’s July, so that means it’s time for a Summer blowout episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast. We broach many subjects including Star Wars’ big problem, Robocop reboots, Chris Hardwick’s troubles, and the Naked Gun. Yes…that assortment of subjects has never been collectively tackled before.

Also Justin is put on the hot seat for the new segment ‘Questions From The Crowd.’

DJ and Justin go crazy with their love for the television show, ’24.’ And the boys try and figure out films by their last line in the new game, ‘Simplistic Last Lines.’ All that and more on this new episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

NOTES

MUSIC

Fast Times Club By Idols

Gold Medal By Sounds Like Sander

4. For Losing It By The Triads

August 12, 2013

Elysium (Matt’s Take)

Elysium – Preaching

PREACHING

As the Summer movie season winds down, we start to enter this zone of thoughtful Summer fare where the lines are blurred between balls-to-the-wall action and films with a message.  When Fall movies begin to roll out in the next month or so we’ll start to see legit Oscar contenders and not as many giant-robots-punching each-other-in-the-face films.  It’s the natural order of things.  This brings me to “Elysium” a solid, yet heavy-handed, sci-fi epic from “District 9” director, Neill Blomkamp.

“Elysium” is the story of Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) a former car thief who now works for Armadyne, an infrastructure/munitions manufacturer for the aforementioned city in space.  An accident at Armadyne forces Max to seek the help of local hacker and gangster, Spider, who offers him a way up to Elysium if he puts on a metal exoskeleton that resembles what Mickey Rourke was wearing in “Iron Man 2.”  Political intrigue, exotic sci-fi weapons, and weird accents are the highlights of “Elysium” which is a little ham-handed with the way in which it deals with class issues and immigration, but at least one movie this year will call out the elephant in the room we are all dealing with as a global society these days.

Coming from a middle class family and living a middle class life, I know the class gap is widening even as I write this sentence and who knows, one day there very well might a space station where all the rich One Percenters live, while the Earth degenerates into a cesspool of crime and poverty, hey, have you seen Detroit lately?

The one problem ‘Elysium” definitely DOESN’T have is how it looks.  This broken vision of Los Angeles looks beautiful, on par with what Alfonso Cuaron did with London in “Children of Men.” The world looks lived in and is populated with actual people, not CG fill-ins.  The fact that Blomkamp decides to shoot scenes in actual trash heaps and squalor shows his dedication to his world and how he intends on making it look. You feel gritty and grimy on your time on Earth, but funny enough, that grim and grit carries over when you visit the world of Elysium.  Despite it’s pristine surface, there is a rotten underbelly to the wealthy off-planet with it’s ID-scarred citizens and the use of primitive looking robot helpers offering cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres.  There is something off-putting about Elysium, but at the same time you have to ask yourself; would you prefer Elysium to Earth?  I think most of us would sympathize with the citizens of Elysium, who seem to be under attack a lot, even though these people were likely the cause of the Earth’s plight in the first place.

The acting is solid in “Elysium” with Matt Damon leading the way.  But the real revelation is Sharlto Copley, who plays Kruger, a sleeper agent for Elysium’s Secretary of Defense, played by Jodie Foster.  Copley plays a villain with deranged glee, almost of the level of Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight.”  Kruger is built up as a psychopath, which fits the bill nicely based on his enjoyment in his job, namely killing immigrants without a second thought.  But there is a certain mystery and sadness behind his eyes.  Was he a psychopath before he was made a sleeper agent or did years of death and Med-Pod treatments warp his mind into what we see on screen.  I’d love to see a prequel with just Kruger.

Speaking of Med-Pods, this brings me to another important aspect of the film; healthcare.  In the time of “Obamacare” and free healthcare for all citizens, at what cost could free healthcare mean for us as a society.  Yes, we all love free, but when government is in charge of what we put into our bodies just because it’s free, is it plausible to believe that something could go bad.  Most of the citizens of Elysium seem to be in a haze, almost dead from the outside, as they live their carefree and safe lives.  Could too much exposure to medicine and these “Med-Pods” cause some long-term damage, and psychosis?  Take Kruger as an example.  In his line of work I’m sure he’s met plenty of bullets, knives, lasers, and grenades where he’s had to make some pit stops into a Med-Pod.  The “free” healthcare could have some side effects, couldn’t it?

This is just me reading in-between the lines, and who knows, this could just be be preaching at this point as well, but Blomkamp has said, quote, “No, no, no.  This isn’t science fiction.  This is today.  This is now.”  Now who’s preaching.

Bottom line, “Elysium” is a step in the right direction for “intelligent sci-fi,” but with films being a medium for escape, especially during the Summer time, it’s odd to see such a preachy film in August.  However, Blomkamp raises the question(s) as to what should we need to do in order to stop this potential future only 140 years away.  Are we doomed to live on Earth while the most wealthy skip town and leave us the scraps?  If Blomkamp is the minister to this sermon, we should listen up, but still keep an open mind and hope that there is still some humanity left in our future.

Fun Fact:  “Elysium” marks TriStar Picture’s return to big budget pictures, their first since 1998’s “The Mask of Zorro” who’s budget was $95 Million, compared to $115 Million for “Elysium.”

August 12, 2013

Elysium (DJ’s Take)

ALLEGORICAL

Neill Blomkamp tops the list of my five favorite great directors of the future.  (Duncan Jones, Rian Johnson, Matt Reeves, and Josh Trank are the others)  His first film out of the box, District 9, is probably the most original, groundbreaking, sci-fi action film we’ve seen for two decades.  Though, that film’s faux documentary style allowed Blomkamp some leeway to radically tell a story.  A style that worked like gangbusters.  However, I hoped and knew that Blomkamp wouldn’t want to be pigeonholed to that type of filmmaking.  The question was how well could he tell a story in the more traditional fashion.  His sophomore effort Elysium proves that Blomkamp can be a multifaceted director.  However, he might need a bit more subtlety as a writer.  Because for all Elysium’s pulse pounding action and jaw dropping visuals, its message seems to clumsily get in the way.

The concept is great.  The rich and affluent people of earth depart for a super advanced space station called Elysium.  There, food shortages, crime, and diseases are nonexistent.  A small group of earth rebels, led by a recently dying Matt Damon, fight to get up to Elysium before his time runs out.  An ALLEGORY that is clear enough to understand even for the normally oblivious.  However, Elysium’s flaw is not allowing the audience to absorb the “We Are The 99%” ALLEGORY on its premise alone.  The film seems to beat you over the head with it over and over again.  So much so, the last three minutes become a montaged commercial for financial equality.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  District 9 is also based on the huge ALLEGORICAL message of racial inequality and South African apartheid.  However, I believe District 9’s documentary style and alien creatures mask that film’s message a bit smoother than Elysium.  Elysium suffers from not being able to sugarcoat what it wants to say.  Thus, distracting from and sadly short-changing all the things great about it.  And trust me, there is a lot of great here.   The world building is strong.  The acting is solid.  And the action is tremendously outstanding.

It always floors me how Blomkamp seems to make every action scene he does original, gritty and exciting.  No one does a clusterf%*k action scene like Neill Blomkamp.  NO!  NO!  Not Michael Bay.  Bay’s action direction, admittedly one of the few things he does well, is hyper-stylized.  Blomkamp’s action direction feels out of control.  Out of control in a good way.  You feel exhausted after each crazy entanglement Blomkamp puts you through.  Did you forget that mech suit battle in District 9?  His fights are sloppy, unpredictable, harrowing and great.  Elysium is no different in this regard.  The fighting style of the exosuits, the spaceship crashes, the corridor battles, the desert plain assaults.  They are all amazing.  Blomkamp also flexes his muscles again in the futuristic tech department.  He seems to always know how to introduce and use unique weapons and technologies just enough so we buy them as an audience, but not get bored of them.  Sanctimonious self indulgent statement here but…THEY DIDN’T WANT THIS GUY TO DO HALO!!!  DAMN IT!!!  Sorry.  It always bothers me.

As stated before, the performances are solid.  Matt Damon, while not breaking any new ground here, is still his usual charismatic self.  Jodie Foster playing a baddie always seems to vibe with me.  Though, her accent is a tad inconsistent.  A joyfully over the top performance by actor Wagner Moura as Spider also entertains.  However, there is one actor that steals EVERY SINGLE scene he is in.  One performance that people will talk about when they talk about Elysium.  And that is Sharlto Copley.  I was partially avoiding any spoilery trailers leading up to this film’s release.   This led to my surprise when I saw Copley was in Elysium as much as he is.  He’s Blomkamp’s boy, so it makes all the sense in the world.  However, he isn’t really promoted as much as he should be.  The guy completely owns this film.  After his role as the psychotic Kruger and his apparently terrific performance in Spike Lee’s Old Boy, Copley has got to be a star on the rise.

Elysium is another strong sci-fi follow-up from Neill Blomkamp.  Its only sin is a slight difficulty to get out of the way of its own ALLEGORICAL message.  If you aren’t prone to eye rolling from preachiness or a registered Republican, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it.  Even if you are, you’ll still be entertained.  Suit up…be careful of hand grenades to the face…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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