First Two Reviews of Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium' Praise Droids & CGI

July 10, 2013


So how is it? "Elysium is definitely everything you are hoping for. It's an incredible sci-fi adventure! The most astonishing was the CGI that didn't look like CGI. You really thought it was the real thing." Although we fully expected Neill Blomkamp's District 9 follow-up Elysium to premiere at the San Diego Comic-Con this year, I confirmed with Sony that it will be skipping the Con entirely. No premiere, no footage, nothing. So when will they let the cat out of the bag on this one? We're not sure. The good news - we can still be the first to bring you the very first reviews from a secret screening that took place in Europe a few weeks back.

Two regular readers of FirstShowing based in Europe recently had the chance to see the finished version of Elysium and they each sent me their take on the sci-fi movie (watch the latest trailer). The first two reviews:

First of all I have been looking forward to his sci-fi adventure so much. I’ve seen everything so far, trailers, pictures and I have been reading every article about it. So when I got the chance to finally see it I almost freaked out. I tried to keep my expectations down, but hey it’s Blomkamp, the guy who brought us District 9. Loved that movie if you haven’t already figured that out. I was pretty excited when the movie finally started. Would be just good or even better? I was just about to find out!

Two hours later the screening was over I just tried to return to reality. I’ve had been to a trip to Blomkamp's Elysium and that awesome feeling I had wouldn’t go away. I rarely react like this, but Elysium was still inside of me. That was a trip you are dreaming to make. Awesome isn’t word enough to describe it. It’s an incredible sci-fi adventure that will be a part of you till you die.

There are many things that really look incredible, but the CGI is amazing. We all have seen what CGI usually look like, like a video sequence from a game. No matter if it’s Man of Steel, The Avengers or any other action movie. It’s cool, but still you aren’t convinced because you can see it’s CGI. But Blomkamp managed to believe that we were on Elysium and boy, I really wanted to take the next space shuttle there. Then you realize, Elysium doesn’t exist. Damn you Blomkamp! I really wanted to make that trip.

Been a long time since I felt this was. I walked around with a grin in my face and I bet people wondered what was wrong with me. If someone had asked, I would say, Blomkamp happened to me! Don’t miss it when it comes out. You won’t regret it. 10/10


It is the sequel you'd expect after the success of Neill Blomkamp's District 9. Elysium is bigger in budget and scale, and less original and personal. But this science fiction story is still a cool and believable one, with a strong cast and a great work on the special effects. The story follows Matt Damon's Max, one of all the poor and hard-working men on Earth, who has always dreamt of a life on Elysium. It's way too expensive, but after an accident at work leaving him with less than a week to live, he has nothing left to lose but to try and fight his way up there.

You see, the richest people have left the over-populated and over-polluted Earth for a luxurious space station called Elysium. And besides having endless cocktail parties and games of golf, everyone also has a medical pod that can heal anyone. How convenient! But there is some trouble even in paradise. Jodie Foster plays a brilliant power woman who wants to take control of Elysium, and a few twists and turns later it seems that Max, the illegal immigrant, might be her only hope. And I haven't even mentioned Sharlto Copley's character, the frightening Terminator-type character who easily could have had more screen time.

Unfortunately, I had some issues with District 9 and I have the same issues with Elysium. The story isn't quite enough to fill out the entire 2 hours. While the first half of the movie is very promising, the second half gets lost in quite boring fights and shoot-outs, all leading up to a finale with few surprises. There is also at least one flashback too much. The scenes from little Max's childhood are just too cheesy for this otherwise smart sci-fi flick.

But if you loved District 9 then Elysium is probably your thing too. It is an exciting science fiction story where the technology nicely blends into the believable world(s), just like we've seen in Looper or Blomkamp's directorial debut. Remember how the aliens in Johannesburg never looked like CGI creations? There are some pretty cool guardian androids here looking just as realistic. 7/10

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  • Obama
    Sounds like a sci fi with relevant social commentary that many can relate to. The rich better watch out.
    • AlanMorlock
      Who do you think finances such films? Who do you think profits from them?
    • Brian Sleider
      Yeh personally I am sick of "rich are evil" movies. With out a rich person I and my wife would not have a job. You proly wouldn't either. If we want to have a discussion on why corporatism is bad that is one thing. But individual rich people DRIVE economy's.
      • AlanMorlock
        They also often live their lives without an understanding of how their actions, which carry an immense amount of influence affect other people. For many of the rich, they come from rich families and have been rich for generations. One cannot blame them for seeking out nice areas to live or sending their children to the best schools and things but over time it can lead to a physical and social disconnect with everyone else. Elysium just takes the gated community to an extreme.
        • ok87
          80% of millionaires are first-generation
          • webslinger48
            @...ok87Actually, that is not true.. There really is no hard data on the percentage of self-made millionaires. However, according to a survey by Financial Advisor, 67% of millionaires are self-made. Sounds about right.
          • ok87
            I was going off of Thomas Stanley's book "The Millionaire Next Door" where he randomly sampled millionaires and asked them about their lives. Granted, not a scientific study by any means but a majority, let's agree, are not "inherited" into it and have not come from a long line of rich people. I suppose it depends on how I interpreted "many" in AlanMorlock's post
      • Likes everyone
        In fact, concentrating wealth in the hands of a few individuals - regardless of how "good" or "evil" they may individually be - is disastrous for any economy. It perverts the justice system, subverts the political system, and undermines the general economic welfare by undercutting the middle class. The wealth of the the top 5% has increased over 250% while average wages have stagnated or even dropped because they use their political clout to undermine unions.
        • Brian Sleider
          Funny, my wages and the wages of those I know have gone up. Maybe be in an industry that requires skill. Shit my dad is union he wages are up. Anecdotal I know but most of what I just read from you is OWS propaganda. Yes Corpratism is bad I said that. And we DO have some in our country right now but not rampant. Sadly it is on both sides of the political spectrum. With out a full reboot of our government there will be no way around it. But lumping a few rich people who cause these problems in with ALL rich people is not an objective look at whats happening
          • AlanMorlock
            Wages are up but far below the rate of inflation, they've essentially stagnated since the mid 1980s, where as the income of executives has grown exponentially.
      • mikeyaz17
        no actually they don't. the middle class DRIVES the economy. without a base to buy a product, there's no reason to make that product
        • ok87
          Good point. You can't make money if no one is buying.
  • Steve
    I have a hard time believing that the action and the fights are boring. The trailers seem to indicate that the action is just as visceral and intense as it was in "District 9", which in my opinion, is only a good thing.
    • matthew
      Good thing is he gave it a 7 even though he wasn't a fan of D9.
      • Steve
        That's true. But I've already read on several sites and on Twitter over the last year that the test screenings went well and all. I don't know what that will account for by the time we see professional reviews - but I just can't buy the fact that even if the film becomes an action romp in the second half, it some how becomes boring. Action is one of the things that seemed really fun about "District 9" as well as this director's previous shorts. That criticism just doesn't sound right to me.
  • Manu Delpech
    Yeah that comment reeks of BS, this is Blomkamp, reading the script tells me, seeing District 9 and what we got in the trailers, that the action is going to be spectacular, how can that be boring?
    • Steve
      I agree. I'll even contest that the mech suit set piece at the end of "District 9" was one of the best action set pieces of that entire year. I just can't imagine "Elysium" delivering anything less on that front.
    • ff
      I like Neill's direction, but I read the script over a year ago and it was so boring and cheesy I stopped halfway. I wish I were kidding and I hope he changed some stuff but after reading this review unfortunately it doesn't appear so.
  • Steve
    Also, Alex, if you could possibly answer this question... is it a bad sign that "Elysium" isn't coming to CC in a couple weeks? Could that mean they don't have a lot of faith in the movie? Isn't it supposed to be their big summer release? Doesn't make sense for it not to appear in any capacity. Anyway, I suppose the fact they're going through the trouble of giving it a proper IMAX conversion might cancel that fear out. That's got to be a good sign I'd assume.
    • Linkfx
      Comic Con is incredibly overrated for it's ability to promote and has actually hurt the performance of many films, especially but not only Scott Pilgrim. As long as they maintain a strong web presence and take their outdoor campaigns and tv spots to the next level and grab the country they'll do fine
      • Steve
        Point taken. And I suppose the recent misfortune of "Dredd" flopping probably influenced Sony's decision as well. I have been impressed with the viral campaign for Elysium so far. But yeah, I still have very high expectations, but I've always been a glass half-empty kinda guy. And the fact that even though one of the reviewers weren't as high on it as the other, I think the fact he still gave it a 7 out of 10 is very encouraging.
        • Linkfx
          i'm sure it'll be great. Just from seeing D9 and all of Blomkamp's short films, I have a feeling, we are only experiencing the beginning of the awesome vision this guy has to offer the world. I only hope that he never forgets that it has been the characters at the heart of his films which make them interesting...the soul behind the CGI is what seperates Blomkamp from the likes of George Lucas and Michael Bay, two directors overly interested in visual toys then telling compelling narratives. Dredd was fantastic...too bad about the box office on it. Although I hear rumblings of a sequel....
          • Steve
            Could not agree more with you, man. One of the things I loved about "District 9" was how well Wikus was developed throughout the film. His story made the action in that film all the more compelling. Hoping for the same with Matt Damon's character in "Elysium". I still admire George Lucas for being able to build the "Star Wars" universe, but I completely agree with you on Michael Bay. Plus, this has been a rather dull and forgettable summer. I really need something to blow me away this year, and hopefully that will be "Elysium". And yes, "Dredd" was indeed fantastic. Hopefully the home media sales have generated enough to the point that we really will get a proper sequel.
    • AlanMorlock
      Comicon campaigns cost a lot of money but don't actually help movies much. They are far better off using that money for TV spots and other types of promotion.
    • Elysium had a big presence last year when it was a completely unknown property. This year it would be a waste of money. Genre fans are already sold on it.
  • Marcus
    Now here's a summer movie I will not miss out on seeing in theaters.
  • Chapel
    I consider Damon to be one of he great actors working today so I'm very interested to see his take on a wiseass character. But I'm hoping Blomkamp can add an interesting twist to the story. Not interested in a splatter fest devoid of story.
    • DilldoahMan
      Unfortunately there is no twist. Damon was great as Will in Good Will Hunting. Looks good here too.
  • BIG R
    I have a feeling that Jodie Foster turns out to be Matt Damons mother or something lol. I can't wait for this movie, I loved District 9 and I think this movie is going to deliver. It may not be as original as District 9, but I still think Elysium will be fantastic!
    • Red
      One thing for sure, it'll be more well acted than D-9 -_-
  • D9wasBetter
    SLIGHT SPOILERS: The script is a straight up clone of D9. I loved D9 but I don't want a rip off remake with different cloths. Both movies have the characters getting injured/sick in the first act while on the job, then required that character to pull of heists involved the company they work for so they can get to a huge float object in the sky where they can heal themselves. Both have a parent and child the sick person gets involved with and numerous other similarities. The themes are of course similar also, but that isn't the real problem with Elysium, themes are okay, it is the cloning of the D9 script that is the issue. This screams of one trick pony. Also the healing machines would be on Earth also, every hospital would have a least one. Heck even one per city would be realistic.
    • matthew
      One trick pony yet his next film is a comedy? And what you described is a similar structure but the execution is very very different in style(yes I read the script as well). Healing machines would be on earth, but that is not the point the film is trying to make, many films have inconsistencies if you base them on reality.
  • Andrew
    Cant wait for this.
  • alex duncan
    Why would you spoil a HUGE plot point like that common
  • Jared M. Kuntz
    How is a childhood flashback too cheesy? I'm sorry but that's a load of iditic bullcrap. A sci-fi film worthy of multiple awards
    • Neo Racer
      one, two is cool...if there's more than that its gonna get old. FAST.




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