Elysium Movie Poster Image




Dazzling but heavy-handed sci-fi has violence, language.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
The movie's main message is a plea for tolerance, especially between different social classes. The movie illustrates the plight of the lower class, even as the upper class is painted as pure, evil villains. The "haves" look down their noses on the "have-nots" (and sometimes try to kill them). The movie's solution is simpleminded, but it at least addresses that the situation is wrong. The movie also makes a call for universal healthcare.
Positive role models
The main character isn't particularly complex, but he eventually learns that people can help one another without expecting anything in return. He sacrifices his own needs for the needs of others.
Strong sci-fi violence, with lots of fighting and shooting and some stabbing and swordplay. Viewers see lots of dripping blood, and characters die. Many robots and spaceships explode. A man violently slaps and forcibly kidnaps a woman (and her sick young daughter) to get information out of her. A bad guy is shown with his face blown off. A robot cop breaks the main character's arm. He's also exposed to radiation and is shown feeling sick and throwing up. A gory surgery scene shows the main character having an exoskeleton grafted onto his body.
There's a childhood romance between the main character and a nurse, but nothing comes of it -- no kissing, hugging, or even a date (he asks her to coffee, and she says yes, but they never get to go).
"F--k" is used many times. "S--t" is also heard, as well as one or two uses of "balls," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "oh my God," "goddamn," and "bitch."
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
On Earth, some extras are shown drinking beer, and the main character is offered "pills" to take when he gets agitated. (He turns them down.) Nothing comes of this initial idea about the "medicating" of society. Up on Elysium, the wealthy characters are shown sipping champagne.

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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 9, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:December 17, 2013
Cast:Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner
Director:Neill Blomkamp
Studio:TriStar Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong bloody violence and language throughout

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Parent Written byg-g-g August 10, 2013

Entertaining but violent and heavy-handed on social issues--for older teens only

Like "District 9," Neil Bloomkamp's previous film, "Elysium" is for teenagers near voting age only. The level of violence is just too much for a 13- or 14-year-old--this from a parent who saw "Apocalypse Now" at 13 and thought it borderline back then. The heavy-handed social commentary--bordering on the caricature where "District 9" was more subtle and thoughtful--will probably satisfy the typical 16-year-old's readiness to express outrage at social injustice. To an adult, it feels overly simplistic and somewhat out-of-date already. In a time of Obamacare and shifting attitudes towards immigration across the political landscape, the metaphor of the desperate Spanish-speaking poor ready to risk everything for health care in the rich white world will soon look like yesterday's battle, a little like late 1980s Cold War films felt back when the rise of Japan seemed unstoppable. There's definitely something to view, enjoy and talk about with for parents and mature teenagers here, but I'll take "District 9" over "Elysium" as a support for that kind of discussion.
Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek August 8, 2013

So Good!!!

Parents, this amazing and poignant masterpiece from the director of "District 9" is probably on your teens radar, but due to the nonstop language and graphic bloody violence, this sci-fi film is not for kids. The violence is intense and brutal, including stabbings, decapations, shootings, frenetic gunfire and gunplay, explosions, bodies blowing up, a man's skin on his face being cut off, intense weapons shown, the kidnapping of a sick young girl, all deaths on screen, lots of gore, nightmarish imagery in a dream sequences, and a suicide attempt. Language is constant and the most used in any film made in the last 5 years on record. Language includes 239 uses of f--k, 12 uses of s--t, one use of c--k and c--t, 109 uses of b-tch, and 3 uses of "godd-mnit". In the end, this acclaimed science fiction extravaganza is sure to impress and entertain audiences and win plenty of awards, but the content was clearly meant for adults. SUGGESTED MPAA RATING: R For Strong Graphic Violence, Intense Images & Language Throughout.
Adult Written byCharlieBundy August 9, 2013

I was surprised how much i loved this movie

Thought the film was great, almost made me cry. Very enjoyable. NOT for children
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing