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Film Review: Elysium

Accomplished and acclaimed Hollywood actors? Check. Director whose breakout debut film (District 9) was classy, interesting and exciting? Check. A storyline filled with important themes about universal healthcare, rich versus poor, refugees and asylum seekers and climate change? Check. A big special effects budget? Check. Cute kids? Check. Spaceships, explosions and killer robots? Check.

So why is Elysium so much less than the sum of its parts? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, it all comes down to the writing. For starters, the basic premise of the film, that the world’s population will grow indefinitely, is incorrect. In fact, growth is already slowing and according to the UN the Earth’s population will peak at about 9 billion in around 2050 before gradually declining.

But beyond the science lesson, there are some absolute laugh-out-loud plot and writing stinkers in Elysium that stretch beyond breaking point the suspense of disbelief you need for all science fiction.

Like that you could look at thousands of lines of computer code and in an instant understand exactly what it is. That changing one line in said code could shut down and reboot an entire space habitat. That you get killer robot droids to do all your dirty work but when the good guys start shooting they are strangely absent.

It’s a shame. Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was tighter, stayed on message, made better use of its limited special effects budget and was more emotive. Elysium is District 9 Hollywood style – bigger, brassier, more expensive, more explosions and better promoted, but not nearly as good.

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