Dazzling but heavy-handed sci-fi has violence, language.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that action/sci-fi movie Elysium is the long-awaited follow-up from the director of District 9. Like its predecessor, it has lots of strong sci-fi violence. Viewers see shootings, stabbings, killings, dripping blood, explosions, and death. A woman is slapped and kidnapped, and the main character (played by Matt Damon) goes through a gory operation (an exoskeleton is grafted onto his skin). Language is also an issue, with more than a dozen uses of "f--k," and one use of "s--t." There's a hint of drinking and drugs being an issue on the Earth of 2514 -- extras are seen drinking, and pills are offered -- but this idea goes nowhere. The movie's message, while heavy handed, is a plea for tolerance, especially among social classes.
What's the story?
In the year 2154, overpopulation and other problems on Earth have forced the wealthy to flee to a space station called Elysium that's filled with fresh air, sculpted lawns, swimming pools, and champagne. They also have "med bays" that can heal any human illness. But the poor on Earth have no such care and can never afford the trip -- and illegal flights to Elysium are instantly shot down. But after a radiation accident on the job, Max (Matt Damon) is determined to get there to heal himself. So, in exchange for a ticket, he agrees to a dangerous job and winds up with information that could change the entire structure of Elysium. Unfortunately, his childhood love (Alice Braga) and her sick daughter are also in need of help. Can Max save the day?
Is it any good?
This type of "haves vs. have-nots" story has been done many times in sci-fi, ranging from the terrific Metropolis and Gattaca to the dreadful Upside Down; Elysium isn't one of the better ones. The movie starts out with awe-inspiring footage of Elysium, making it look almost like a man-made heaven. But director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is fond of "realism," which in this case means a grimy look with lots of shaking cameras and blurry, jerky footage.
Blomkamp tells his story with a heavy hand, concentrating more on messages than on storytelling or on emotional connections with the characters. He's so focused on issues of tolerance, healthcare, and race and class discrimination that he often forgets about simple logic. Many scenes and many character motivations simply don't make sense. As a result, actors like Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, and Diego Luna mostly look lost. For a movie about important ideas, Elysium is, ultimately, not very smart.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about Elysium's violence. Is all of the gore and death necessary to convey its messages of tolerance?
- If you were rich and lived in the movie's world, would you move to Elysium? Would you be interested in helping others?
- Does this movie make you hate rich people or sympathize with them? Are they stereotypes? What are some ways to understand them better?
Can you think of other sci-fi movies (or other types of media) that have tackled political ideas through metaphor and fantasy?
|Theatrical release date:||August 9, 2013|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||December 17, 2013|
|Cast:||Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner|
|Topics:||Space and aliens|
|Run time:||109 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||strong bloody violence and language throughout|
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