Elysium is a 2013 American dystopian science fiction action film written, produced and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth and a luxurious artificial world (Stanford torus design, one of the proposed NASA designs) called Elysium. The film itself offers deliberate social commentary that explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.
|Directed by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Written by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Music by||Ryan Amon|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$286.1 million|
The film was released on August 9, 2013, by Sony Pictures Releasing through the TriStar Pictures label, in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters. It received generally positive reviews from critics, even though many considered it a disappointment after Blomkamp's first film District 9, and was a modest box office success. Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013.
In 2154, Earth is overpopulated and polluted. Most of the citizens live in poverty while the rich live on an orbiting space station named Elysium. A hacker named Spider runs flights to Elysium to try and smuggle people in to use their Med-Bays, devices that can heal any disease or condition, but these flights are often shot down.
Max Da Costa is working for Armadyne Corp as a laborer when he is accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. He is given medication and told he has five days to live before he is fired from his job. Max and his friend Julio approach Spider and make a deal for a ride to Elysium in exchange for Max stealing information for Spider.
Elysium's Defense Secretary Delacourt shoots down several spacecraft entering the torus and is reprimanded by the President. An upset Delacourt approaches Armadyne Corp CEO John Carlyle and offers him secured defense contracts for life in exchange for a program that will allow Delacourt to conduct a coup and install herself as President. Carlyle writes the program and stores it inside his brain. Max and Julio select Carlyle to steal information from and shoot down Carlyle's shuttle to Elysium. They steal the program from Carlyle, prompting Delacourt to send a black ops team led by Kruger to retrieve it. Kruger kills Spider's entire team and Julio but an injured Max escapes with the data.
Max seeks help from his childhood friend and nurse Frey. She patches him up and he leaves before Kruger can track him down. Max goes to Spider, who realizes what the data in Max's head is worth. Delacourt locks down all flights up to Elysium, leaving Spider unable to take Max. Kruger locates Frey and kidnaps her and her daughter, while Max approaches him and offers him the data in exchange for the use of a Med-Bay. Kruger accepts and the lockdown is lifted so they can travel to Elysium. During the flight, Kruger and Max fight over the data and a grenade explodes in Kruger's face killing him. The ship crashes and Max is arrested and taken to Delacourt, who orders a team to extract the data even if it kills Max. Max escapes and heads to the armory to save Frey, who has been turned over to Kruger's men. Kruger is revived on a Med-Bay and confronted by Delacourt, whom he fatally wounds. He orders his men to start killing the politicians on the station while he hunts down Max.
Spider manages to successfully land on Elysium and finds Max. He makes a deal with Max to have his men protect Frey and get her daughter to a Med-Bay in exchange for the data. They make their way to the computer core but are confronted by Kruger. Max and Kruger engage in a brutal fight that ends with Max detonating a grenade that kills Kruger. Spider and Max connect to the computer and Spider realizes the data will kill Max if he downloads it. Max says his goodbyes to Frey and initiates the download, killing himself but allowing Frey to heal her daughter. The police arrive but are unable to arrest Spider as everyone on Earth is now considered a citizen of Elysium. Emergency life boats loaded with Med-Bays are dispatched to Earth to begin healing everyone that needs help.
- Matt Damon as Max Da Costa, a former criminal now on probation. Max was raised in an orphanage with Frey and promised her that one day he would take her to Elysium.
- Maxwell Perry Cotton as young Max
- Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt. She is responsible for the security on Elysium and resorts to illegal means to keep immigrants off of the torus.
- Alice Braga as Frey Santiago. She works as a nurse and is a single mother to a daughter with cancer.
- Valentina Giron as young Frey
- Sharlto Copley as Agent M. Kruger, a black ops agent working secretly for Delacourt. He is a psychopathic killer with a reputation for using extreme measures.
- Diego Luna as Julio, Max's best friend.
- Wagner Moura as Spider, a hacker and information thief who runs clandestine flights to Elysium.
- William Fichtner as John Carlyle. He is CEO of Armadyne Corp, the company that designed and built Elysium.
- Brandon Auret as Drake, one of Kruger's soldiers.
- Josh Blacker as Crowe, one of Kruger's soldiers.
- Faran Tahir as President Patel, leader of Elysium.
- Emma Tremblay as Matilda Santiago, Frey's daughter who is dying of cancer.
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro, one of Spider's hackers.
- Adrian Holmes as Manuel
- Jared Keeso as Rico
- Carly Pope, Ona Grauer and Michael Shanks as CCB agents
- Terry Chen as CCB Technician
Elysium was produced by Bill Block, Neill Blomkamp, and Simon Kinberg, and written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the director and co-writer of District 9 (2009). It reunites Blomkamp with some of his District 9 crew, such as editor Julian Clarke, production designer Philip Ivey, cinematographer Trent Opaloch, and actor Sharlto Copley, playing one of the film's antagonists. Elysium is a co-production of TriStar Pictures and MRC.
Although the film's story is set in 2154, Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition. "Everybody wants to ask me lately about my predictions for the future," the director has said, "No, no, no. This isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now." In January 2011, independent studio Media Rights Capital met with major studios to distribute Elysium, and Blomkamp shared art designs of his proposed science fiction film. The art designs won over the executives at Sony Pictures, who bought the film after making a more attractive offer than the other studios.
With a production budget of $115 million, production began in July 2011. The film's Earth-bound scenes were shot in a dump in the poor Iztapalapa district on the outskirts of Mexico City. The scenes for Elysium were shot in Vancouver and the wealthy Huixquilucan-Interlomas suburbs of Mexico City. Matt Damon shaved his head for the role of Max. The main role was first offered to Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja), a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role.
The role was then offered to rapper Eminem, but he wanted the film to be shot in Detroit. That was not an option for the two studios, so Blomkamp moved on to Damon as his next choice. Futuristic designs were executed by Philip Ivey after long periods of researching and studying older science fiction films. Ivey has continuously cited Syd Mead as a substantial influence for the film.
Weta Workshop created the exosuits for Damon and Copley's characters, while the complicated visual effects were handled primarily by Image Engine (who also collaborated on District 9) with additional work by Whiskytree, MPC, The Embassy and Industrial Light and Magic, some of the software that was used for the visual effects were Autodesk Softimage. Re-shoots took place through October 2012. The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The soundtrack was released on August 6, 2013.
In October 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Steve Wilson Briggs accusing the crew of copyright infringement, claiming he wrote a screenplay that was substantially similar to the movie. Several months before filing a lawsuit, he registered his screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office to file an infringement complaint.
On 3 October 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found in favour of the film's producers.
When the film was first announced, Sony intended to release it in late 2012. It later set an official release date for March 8, 2013, before moving one week earlier to prevent competing against Oz the Great and Powerful. In October 2012, Sony then announced they had pushed back the release date to August 9, 2013. In April 2013, Sony also announced that the film would be specifically reformatted for IMAX theaters. By that time, two theatrical trailers and a TV spot had already been showcased. Elysium was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013 and later released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 9, 2021 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Elysium grossed $93.1 million in North America and $193.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $286.1 million, against a production budget of $115 million. It made a net profit of $18 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 65% based on 262 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
I feel like I fucked it up, I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story... I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn't... I just didn't make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn't there; the story wasn't fully there.
In a research article entitled "Elysium as a Critical Dystopia", Tanner Mirrlees and Isabel Pedersen argue that "Elysium communicates a 'critical dystopia' that illuminates and interrogates present day global capitalism's worst social, political, ecological and technological conditions, but shows them being resisted and changed, for the better."
- Art Directors Guild 2014
|Excellence in Production Design Award||Fantasy Film||Philip Ivey (production designer)
Don Macaulay (supervising art director)
Nancy Anna Brown (set designer - Canada unit)
Ross Dempster (art director - Canada unit)
Hania Robledo (art director - Mexico unit)
Catherine Ircha (assistant art director - Canada unit)
Luis Antonio Ordoñez (assistant art director - Mexico unit)
Syd Mead (conceptual artist)
David Clarke (set designer - Canada unit)
Mira Caveno (set designer - Canada unit)
Ravi Bansal (concept artist)
Ron Turner (concept artist)
Mitchell Stuart (concept artist)
Christian Pearce (concept designer)
Leri Greer (concept designer)
Stuart Thomas (concept designer)
Aaron Beck (concept designer)
Ben Mauro (concept designer)
TyRuben Ellingson (concept designer)
George Hull (concept designer)
Brent Boates (storyboard artist)
Robert Pratt (storyboard artist)
Ray Lai (illustrator)
Rob Jensen (illustrator)
Andy Chung (previsualization artist)
Peter Lando (set decorator - Canada unit)
Gabriela Matus (set decorator - Mexico unit)
- Golden Schmoes Awards 2013
|Golden Schmoes||Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year and Biggest Disappointment of the Year||Nominated|
- Hollywood Film Awards 2013
|Hollywood Movie Award||Neill Blomkamp||Nominated|
- IGN Summer Movie Awards 2013
|IGN Award||Best Sci-Fi Movie||Nominated|
- Jupiter Award 2014
|Jupiter Award||Best International Film||Neill Blomkamp||Nominated|
- Leo Awards 2014
|Leo||Best Visual Effects Motion Picture||Peter Muyzers
- Satellite Awards 2013
|Satellite Award||Best Sound (Editing & Mixing)||Christopher Scarabosio
- Visual Effects Society Awards 2014
|VES Award||Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture||Jean Lapointe
|Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Votch Levi
- Ghosst – Performed by Lorn
- Robot Eater – Performed by Gambit
- The Pining Pt2 – Performed by Chris Clark (as Clark) with Martina Topley-Bird
- We Got More (Kilon TeK Remix) – Performed by Brendan Angelides (as Eskmo)
- Metropolis (Dan Le Sac Remix) – Performed by PRDCTV
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor 'Pathetique' – Adagio Cantabile - Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Suite For Solo Cello No.1 BWV 1007 – Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Kou Kou – Performed by Palms Down Percussion
- Twitch (It Grows and It Grows) – Performed by Raffertie
- Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major – Rondo Vivace - Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Bio Techno – Written and performed by Audio Android
- Loner – Performed by Burial
- New World Disorder – Performed by Arkasia
- Six Degrees – Performed by Kryptic Minds
- Stjernekiggeri – Written and Performed by Mike Sheridan
- Sierra Leone – Performed by Mt Eden
- Elysium – Performed by Ryan Amon
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