Space Matt Damon is Better in This Than Interstellar

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Neill Blomkamp’s cyberpunk political allegory Elysium is exactly the kind of movie I used to dream about in the middle of the night on-shift cutting granite in rural Georgia in 1986 as I looked up into the night sky in-between rock loads. Brain full of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and Blade Runner and Max Headroom, I was a college boy earning money in the bluest of blue collar jobs to earn my way back up to the university space station where all the beautiful people were with their heady ideas and warm-water showers and cheap beer and pliant women and whatnot… all waiting for me like some sort of white collar Promised Land.

And so it is for Max, who gets Logan’s Runned into heading up to the orbiting space station of the Trumps and the Buffets and the other Vanity Fair subscribers because he’s been dosed with fatal death and forced to jack info from a rich guy’s brain. Like the robbers in Charley Varrick or the good guys in 2 Guns, though, Max and his buddies get more than what they bargained for, because William Fichtner was carrying a reboot code for the whole station in his pink jello.

Other critics who think the exoskeletons and knavery and creepy threats against single moms are overtly deus ex and not serving Max’ journey are missing the point wide. Sure, if you write for a big site or a dinosaur magazine it’s an easy bull’s-eye to make fun of Jodie Foster’s accent, but if you like movies you give it a ride because in 2152 that’s what French-accented English sounds like. NEXT. Just like District 9 covered apartheid, so does Elysium cover immigration and health care. WITH FLYING CARS AND HEAD JACKS.

Damon Lindlehof recently said, “Once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world. And when you start there, and basically say, I have to construct a MacGuffin based on if they shut off this, or they close this portal, or they deactivate this bomb, or they come up with this cure, it will save the world—you are very limited in terms of how you execute that. And in many ways, you can become a slave to it and, again, I make no excuses, I’m just saying you kind of have to start there. In the old days, it was just as satisfying that all Superman has to do was basically save Lois from this earthquake in California. The stakes in that movie are that the San Andreas Fault line opens up and half of California is going to fall in the ocean. That felt big enough, but there is a sense of bigger, better, faster, seen it before, done that.”

Neill Blomkamp heard that challenge and said OH HELL NO. Elysium is very entertaining, and well-worth your time.

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Larry Young
Larry Young is a writer: non-fiction, graphic novels, and pop culture criticism. His work has appeared in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, VARIETY, and THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION. A frequent guest on the video podcasts MILLION DOLLAR MAILBOX and WORD BALLOONS, he’s also co-host of SERIOUS STAR TREK and the sister YouTube channel of this website.

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