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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive MessagesThe 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 ModelsThe 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.
Violence & ScarinessStrong 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.
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Sex, Romance & NudityThere'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).
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Language"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."
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Drinking, Drugs & SmokingOn 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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.