MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By TriStar/Stephanie Blomkamp
Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster
We keep seeing the future in popular movies and it stinks. The latest entry in big budget dystopia takes place in 2154 where disease, poverty and overpopulation have turned the earth into a slum where people live in broken-down homes while working in factories and farms to produce the robots that tell them what to do.
In orbit over the planet is the space station Elysium, where the rich and powerful live a life of luxury, enjoying the benefits of long life, due to medical advances. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Secretary of Homeland Security Delacourt Rhodes (Foster) keeps a close watch of the skies to make sure that no one from Earth crosses the space border to get in.
Max (Damon) is a good guy with a criminal past who works hard and plays the system. A work-related accident, however, puts his life in jeopardy. Suddenly, there is a reason for him to risk everything and make a trip to Elysium. His network of friends will help him make the journey; persons in high places will try to stop him.
Without giving much away, that’s the plot of Elysium. It’s Occupation Wall Street in outer space, with some commentary on immigration thrown in for good measure. South African writer-director Blomkamp likes to include messages in his movies; he chose apartheid as the theme for his first major film, 2009’s impressive District 9. But Elysium hits a lot of speed bumps on its journey, including a lazy introduction in which words on the screen tell us the future (rather than the narrative). The multicultural world seems to be primarily critical of the United States, and the characters are one-dimensional (featuring possibly the worst acting ever seen from the talented Jodie Foster, who has been away from films far too long).
The best social commentary is made in the first 30 minutes. After that, Elysium devolves into a standard action film, with some preposterous plot devices. Max’s self-interest wasn’t enough to make me care, and there wasn’t enough attention paid to politics to create a believable fascist government.
People of faith are called to be persons of hope. I hope that someday we will be able to watch a film that presents a future in which we want to live, this side of paradise, in which the Kingdom comes, in heaven and on earth. Until that movie is made, it’s up to us to work for that Kingdom now. Let’s put down the popcorn and get to work.
Two halos: A visually impressive sci-fi movie that squanders its potential with a weak script
Two pitchforks: Scenes of violence, injustice, and oppression; pervasive swearing, a PG-13 film with a dirty mouth
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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