This summer has been rough on me guys. Well it wasn’t as empty as last year (in fact, it’s arguably TOO packed), most of the film’s I’ve seen this season have had a ton of problems, and we’ve yet to see an undeniable success in the past three months or so in my opinion. Yeah Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Iron Man 3 all had their strong points, but every one of them was heavily flawed in some area or another. But my last great hope for Summer 2013, Elysium, was a film I had the utmost faith in. District 9 was my favorite film of 2009, and I couldn’t image a world where Neil Blomkamp’s sophomore feature wouldn’t measure up. But sadly, that seems to be the case. Because, even though word of mouth is still mostly positive right now, pretty much everyone who has had a chance to see the film agrees on one thing—this is no District 9. Read what people have to think of the film so far right after the jump.
Coincidentally, I was thinking to myself earlier today that we hadn’t had any reactions to Elysium from press people and the like hit the internet. With the film set to come out next Friday, I certainly thought that was odd. But hey, the internet exists to please me, so here are some of the first reviews for Elysium. First let’s start with one of the most positive, via The Playlist:
With “Elysium,” Blomkamp has made good on the promise of “District 9″ and proven that working on a bigger canvas doesn’t mean compromising on smarts or aspirations to deliver tentpole sized stories with a thoughtful backbone. And really, it’s those qualities which set “Elysium” apart from the slog of sequels, spinoffs, remakes and superhero movies. It has the audacity (at least in Hollywood terms) of aiming for something original both in concept and design, and that Blomkamp’s nails it in a fashion as entertaining, thrilling and memorable as this, is all the more reason you need to see it.
From Variety, here’s another positive review, if slightly less so:
2009′s “District 9” was one of the few recent sci-fi/fantasy pics (along with “Inception” and “Children of Men”) that deserved to be called visionary. Here, Blomkamp delivers a less dazzling but nonetheless highly absorbing and intelligent, socially conscious bit of futurism, made on a much larger scale than its $30 million predecessor, but with lots of the same scrappy ingenuity…Yet if “Elysium” falls short as social commentary, as entertainment it rarely falters.
And here’s a negative piece from The Hollywood Reporter‘s review:
The film narrows into a series of standard gun battles, explosions, mad dashes, close calls, tough-guy fisticuffs, ridiculously fast downloading of massive computer files under maximum duress and, in the end, mawkish sentimentality. All the interest and goodwill built up by the sharply conceived preliminaries is washed away in a succession of scenes that feel crushingly routine and generic, not to mention guided by ideological urges.
From The Wrap:
Besides overplaying its subtext, the other major flaw of “Elysium” is Foster’s performance, perhaps this accomplished actress’ most risible work since “Siesta.” Strutting around in power suits, barking at lackeys and doing her best Alexander Haig, it’s like watching a Joan Crawford impersonation delivered in that vexing accent from “After Earth.” Still, as an effects-laden action piece, “Elysium” delivers the goods. It might not be the thinking man’s fill-in-the-blank that some viewers were eagerly anticipating, but it’s a solid adventure that oversells its deeper meanings.
Finally here’s a blurb from Screen Daily, which also criticizes the social commentary at play in Elysium (seems to be a common thing in these reviews, no?):
As with his 2009 debut, the Best Picture-nominated District 9, writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up mixes sci-fi action and social parable — not consistently successfully but always emphatically. Recalling Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) by way of WALL-E, Elysium is best appreciated as an intense, brawny, effects-heavy spectacle that benefits from Matt Damon’s sympathetic performance. Unfortunately, the film’s higher aspirations — dramatic grandeur, political commentary — never come across as anything less than heavy-handed, more enjoyably overblown than genuinely captivating.
And to cap things off, here are some tweets from various movie journalists who have seen the film. Once again, opinion is generally positive, but still critical in the story aspect:
Elysium – Visually spectacular, cool sci-fi fights, awesome droids. But story is weak, a little campy TBH. But still entertaining as hell.
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) August 2, 2013
Neill Blomkamp is a visionary. He needs to team with a writer in the future, but Elysium is thrilling & satisfying on visuals alone.
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) August 2, 2013
Elysium isn’t the knockout that Blomkamp found with D9, but it’s done with great scale and flash. Plenty of problems, though.
— Neil Miller (@rejects) August 2, 2013
How to enjoy Elysium: Ignore everything involving kids and/or Jodie Foster
— Devindra Hardawar (@Devindra) August 2, 2013
So overall, not bad. Only Variety seemed to have a negative take on the film, and most agreed that Blomkamp delivered a very fun and well directed action film. However, these early reviews still have me slightly disappointed. I thought the message of the film looked a little heavy handed in the trailers for the film, but was willing to give Blomkamp the benefit of the doubt on it. To hear people say that the story is the weakest part of the film is very saddening, especially considering how strong that aspect was in District 9. I’m still looking forward to catching Elysium next week, but I will be lowering my sky high expectations just a little bit. And will be staying weary of Jodie Foster, apparently.
Elysium opens August 9. Do these early reviews change your anticipation for the film at all? Let us know in the comments.