Friday, January 23, 2015

Larry Niven's Richworld

Well, I think I'm overdue for posting a review of a film longer than eight minutes, and believe it or not, I used to have time to see a couple, and I did!  One was the Mel Brooks classic, High Anxiety, and the other was Elysium, the highly anticipated sophomore slump of writer-director Neill Blomkamp, who seems to be specializing in the re-burgeoning Sci-Fi genre.  I just saw that he was a 3D animator on the Kevin Costner classic 3000 Miles to Graceland.  Which just goes to show you that even in Hollywood, when a special effects person talks about telling a story, every once in a while they mean a story that people who read books can take seriously.  I'm still stuck on the résumé of Eric Brevig who tried his hand at directing, then went back to the day job of visual effects supervisor.  Oh well.  Raja Gosnell just makes it look so easy; how does he do that?
Oh, right.  Back to Elysium, named for... whatever.  One of the Greek gods or something.  Well, one thing you gotta give him credit for in the story.  None of this Back to the Future Part II crap, being overly optimistic of the advance of technology within Marty McFly's lifetime.  Or, for that matter, Blade Runner, where robots are so people-like that even the cops can't tell them apart.  Yes, 2019, where the flying blimps simulcast in English and Japanese, and there's an Atari store on every corner, and the flying cars look like they're out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  No, this is the year 2154, where the rich live on a spinning ring in the sky between the earth and the moon, and the earth looks kinda grungy.  And even though Matt Damon's getting on in years, he's as tattooed and bacon-eating as the rest of them.  In fact, he's got street cred.  He used to be some kind of Vin Diesel-esque hotshot criminal.  Much like the protagonist in District 9 eventually finds himself between worlds, Damon's character starts out between worlds.  He's trying to go straight with a sh... crappy job with boring hours and a d... Richard for a boss, rather than for the adrenalin rush and similar wages of a career criminal's lifestyle.
BUT THEN... Damon has himself an industrial accident.  He's given a couple pills, but it's a temporary fix for your typical movie deadline: three days to live, something like that.  His dreams of taking his favorite girl to the distant Elysium have just been given the fast track.  Still, there's the evil Jodie Foster to contend with.  She helps Blomkamp give a shout out to his native South Africa with her unusual accent.
Sure, Elysium is lacking the punch and originality of District 9 and it's probably more similar than I realize, but it's still pretty top shelf, and looks great in HD!  Why go out to the theater at all?  Still, there's something nagging at me.  See, in addition to living high on the hog on Elysium rather than earth, the rich seem to have eliminated doctors altogether with a special Catscan-like machine that can apparently repair any damage to people.  And I mean any damage, even the kind suffered by Damon.  Why, cigar smoking just doesn't have the same thrill anymore, if you can just lie away the tumors while you're on your back.  Earthlings risk an illegal journey to Elysium to use the autodocs, but apparently there isn't one on earth.  This situation put me in mind, either fortunately or unfortunately, of that one joke Seinfeld told about a toothbrush "on loan" from Neil Armstrong, which makes me say... Elysium!  Give 'em the autodoc!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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