The first reactions to Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi thriller Elysium are in and they’re decidedly mixed. THR calls it Sony’s third big-budget disappointment of the summer while Variety thought it was “a highly absorbing and intelligent, socially conscious bit of futurism.” Check out all of the reactions and reviews so far after the jump. The film is set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, and centers on a man who takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds. Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, and William Fichtner also star. Elysium hits theaters August 9.
In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.
ScreenCrush: Maybe Blomkamp’s next one will get a shot of nuance and take a cleansing ride through a medical scanner to rid itself of plot inconsistencies. (Those who like to gripe will have a lot of “wait, why didn’t he just…?” type of complaints.) Still, this is my kind of movie. It’s visually arresting, swings for the fences, has crazy weapons, wild technology and presents a world where a cyborg can stumble down the street and no one blinks an eye. Maybe the future isn’t all that terrible? – Jordan Hoffman 7/10
The Wrap: Blomkamp is a master of creating action out of a grimy, quotidian kind of next-gen hi-tech, but when it comes to metaphors, he prefers the sledgehammer. 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.
Variety: So begins the much-anticipated second feature from South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp, whose 2009 “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. Result confirms the helmer as much more than a one-hit wunderkind.
IndieWire: 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. [B+]
THR: This marks Sony’s third big-budget disappointment of the summer, the problems this time stemming from deflating final-act script problems that one would think could have been easily identified. Like Neill Blomkamp’s out-of-nowhere sci-fi triumph with District 9 four years back, this one puts rugged action and convincing visual effects at the service of a sociologically pointed haves-and-have-nots storyline, but when the air goes out of this balloon, it goes fast. There will no doubt be partisans, but an embrace by the masses will elude it.
Screen Daily: 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.
Slant: Throughout, District 9 wunderkind Neill Blomkamp strides closer to the muscular, subversive genre terrain of John Carpenter and Paul Verhoeven, but the writer-director still continues to lay his pathos on just a bit too thick.
No, Elysium is NOT a "legit awards movie" and don't let that overhype fill your head. Fun movie with a point to make. Not D9.
— Kristopher Tapley (@kristapley) August 2, 2013
ELYSIUM: Not nearly as entertaining as DISTRICT 9 but it's a great example of $200 million well spent. Or better spent than it is elsewhere.
— erickohn (@erickohn) August 2, 2013
ELYSIUM WAS DOPE! THAT IS ALL. GO SEE IT.
— elmayimbe (@elmayimbe) 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 is def glimpse at what Blomkamp wanted to do with Halo, honestly wish we got that story instead. Still, laser guns! plasma shields!
— Devindra Hardawar (@Devindra) August 2, 2013
Elysium is like a Magic Eye of a single triangle. By the time you get your eyes used to it, you wish the subject was more interesting.
— Da7e Gonzales (@Da7e) August 2, 2013
Elysium is a solid enough action movie but the story and dialogue are just plain not good. It looks great though.
— Kevin Ketchum (@Kevin_Ketchum) August 2, 2013
#ELYSIUM looks great, but is terribly cliched with awful dialogue. Gets really dumb in the second half. Alas…
— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) August 2, 2013
#Elysium: Great cast, solid gritty action. But yet another good-but-not-amazing summer action menu item. Male sci-fi biz.
— Gitesh Pandya (@giteshpandya) August 2, 2013