I watched Elysium recently and I realised that I may have gone into the film expecting a bit too much. I loved District 9, Neil Blomkamp's break through film and I suspect I was expecting the same sense of wonder and joy at seeing something visually different and an inversion of the typical US action/sci fi movie. But alas, Hollywood came calling and Blomkamp responded with a film a little bit too traditional. It is a beautiful and striking film and well acted, but the shine is off. For me it can be summed up in the way the plot is resolved. It basically becomes an episode of Stargate SG1 without the humour and likeability of the Stargate characters.
Elysium's big final battle is the bad guys trying to stop the good guys from uploading a computer virus which allows everyone on earth access to healthcare by chasing them through corridors on a space station. So let's break this down a bit and see if it has what makes a good Stargate SG1 episode:
- The hero is a bad-ass with a heart of gold - tick.
- A gun fight through futuristic corridors on something in space - tick.
- The bad guy is physically stronger than the good guy - tick
- Solving the big issue with an uploading of something technical into a computer database - tick.
- Technobable is used to explain the solution in a scientific manner - tick.
- The good guys have a technical genius who knows how to get into the most protected computer and is able to either do it themselves or give the luddite enough instructions so that they can do it - tick.
- A child's life is at stake - tick.
- The hero saves the day in the final seconds - tick.
- The hero sacrifices himself for the greater good - cross (ok, it is a movie and not a TV show requiring the hero to come back each week to save the day)
I suppose we will have to wait until Blomkamp's next movie to see if he is going to be as great as District 9 hinted at. I, for one, hope so.