Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction action film produced, written, 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 space habitat (Stanford torus design, one of the proposed NASA designs) called Elysium. The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues. The basic plot is similar to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Cloud Minders" and to the classic Metropolis. The film was released on August 9, 2013 by TriStar Pictures, in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters. It was a modest success and received generally positive reviews from critics, even though many considered it a disappointment after Blomkamp's first film District 9. Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Written by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Music by||Ryan Amon|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$286.1 million|
In 2154, Earth citizens live in poverty, and with inadequate medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium—a gigantic space habitat in Earth's orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced, with devices like Med-Bays that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process, and regenerate body parts. A long-running feud exists between Elysium and Earth, whose residents want Elysian technology to cure their illnesses.
Max Da Costa, a former car thief on parole, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne. Run by CEO John Carlyle, who originally designed Elysium, Armadyne produces Elysium's weaponry, as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max is trapped in a kiln using radioactive sources, and is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued, he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio seek help from a human smuggler named Spider to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.
Meanwhile, when three ships carrying illegal immigrants from Earth attempt to reach Elysium, Defense Secretary Delacourt orders sleeper agent Kruger to destroy the shuttles. While two of the shuttles are shot down in space, killing everyone on board, the third shuttle evades the missiles. Once on Elysium, however, everyone on board is either killed or deported. Elysian President Patel reprimands Delacourt for her immoral response and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Regarded as a loose cannon, Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium's computer core to give her the Presidency and thus effect a coup. Carlyle stores the program in his brain to take to Elysium and encrypts it with a lethal protection program that would kill him in case of any attempt to manipulate or extract the data.
Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider's men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider's men, Max shoots down Carlyle's ship. In the ensuing firefight with Carlyle's security droids, Carlyle dies after being shot. Max downloads the program to his suit's neural implant but realizes that the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft by Carlyle's medical implant, Delacourt secretly reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program. In the following shootout, Julio is killed and Max is wounded. He contacts his childhood friend Frey, now a nurse, whose daughter Matilda has leukemia. Frey begs Max to take Matilda to Elysium to be cured, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Soon after Max leaves, Kruger, alongside mercenaries Drake and Crowe, arrive and brutally interrogate Frey; when Kruger realizes that Matilda is sick, they take Frey and Matilda prisoner aboard his ship while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy enough time to recover Carlyle's program.
Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that the reboot could be used to make all of Earth's residents Elysian citizens. However, because the lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, unaware that Kruger is holding Frey and Matilda hostage on the ship. As Kruger's ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lifting of the lockdown and also board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger's ship, a fight erupts and Kruger is grievously wounded by a grenade blast, which also disables the ship's engines. After the ship crashes on Elysium, Max is knocked out by Drake, while Frey escapes with Matilda to a nearby mansion, where she discovers that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens. Crowe arrives and subdues Frey with a taser. Max, Frey and Matilda are taken to Delacourt, who orders the decryption of the program despite the fact that it will kill Max. She then orders Frey and Matilda to be taken away by Crowe, who locks them in a supply room.
After being restored in a Med-Bay by Drake and Crowe, a defiant Kruger kills Delacourt after she chastises him for his recklessness. On Kruger's orders, Drake and Crowe assassinate major Elysian political officers in order to seize control for themselves. Having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use the program and give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. After being ordered by Kruger to kill Frey and Matilda, Crowe enters the supply room and prepares to rape Frey first, but is killed by Max, who also kills Drake before freeing Frey and Matilda. Max then meets up with Spider, who has one of his members escort Frey and Matilda to a nearby Med-Bay. They then head for Elysium's computer core but are ambushed by Kruger, now equipped with a military-grade exoskeleton far superior to Max's. In the ensuing fight, Max manages to rip out Kruger's neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. However, Kruger tethers himself to Max's suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.
Spider and Max reach Elysium's computer core, where Spider realizes that the program's activation will kill Max. Max personally activates the program, having spoken one last time with Frey via radio. As Max dies, Elysium's computer core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives with security guards but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen, and apparently also the new president. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium's computer dispatches a huge fleet of medical ships to begin treatment of the people of Earth.
- Matt Damon as Max Da Costa
- Maxwell Perry Cotton as young Max
- Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt
- Alice Braga as Frey Santiago
- Valentina Giron as young Frey
- Sharlto Copley as Agent M. Kruger
- Diego Luna as Julio
- Wagner Moura as Spider
- William Fichtner as John Carlyle
- Brandon Auret as Drake
- Josh Blacker as Crowe
- Faran Tahir as President Patel
- Emma Tremblay as Matilda Santiago
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro
- Adrian Holmes as Manuel
- Michael Mando as Rico
- Carly Pope, Ona Grauer and Michael Shanks as CCB agents
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, while 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. 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. On December 17, 2013, Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray discs in Region 1.
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 film opened on August 9, 2013, and grossed $11.1 million on its opening day, ranking #1. It proceeded to rank #1 for the weekend, grossing $29.8 million.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 66% based on 248 reviews, with an average rating of 6.52/10. 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 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.
In February 2015, while promoting his newest film, Chappie, director Neill Blomkamp expressed some regrets regarding Elysium, commenting: "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."
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- 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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