Review Roundup - Ringworld

ELYSIUM (2013)

I had a lot of hopes for this after District 9, possibly the kind that could never be fulfilled but ultimately those that ended up being dashed a little as the movie went on. The erratic, energetic style and the faux docu-drama camera work had a kind of ad libbed charm and an off beat sense of humour that was a big surprise at the time. Unfortunately the follow up doesn't really have any of those raw indie stylings, and it falls into too many clich├ęs that should have been avoided. Perhaps they were unavoidable with Hollywood casting coming into play. That's not to say there isn't quite a bit of enjoyable stuff here, it's just frustrating that amongst the entertaining sequences and the great CG creations there's just too much clutter, the parts have been put together in a way that feels clumsy instead of refined.

Like it's predecessor, the design and art direction is pretty incredible. There's more of that dirty, worn out sci-fi aesthetic this time mixing shanty town slums with robotic police and space vehicles; it pops on screen in a very detailed, eye pleasing way. I'd have liked it to have spent more time exploring the dystopian world that had been created, but it pushes on quickly with the storyline and drops the quieter moments (a chat with a dead faced computerised parole officer is one of the best) in favour of more basic plot forwarding scenes and story points we've all watched before. After an accident Matt Damon is forced to break into the space colony where Earth's rich elite live in seclusion to save his own skin - but he's an ex-con with a heart and has to help some old friends along the way - and possibly even the people of the desolated Earth while doing it (yeah). It's really odd how quickly these elements take over from the more interesting stuff - the life saving health machines he needs are a weak plot device, and the political commentary is a lot heavier than District 9.

Damon's hero Max isn't very memorable and the other cast members vary; I have to bring up D9 again as Sharlto Copley shows up doing a twisted version it's protagonist, but it seems kind of forced here. Jodie Foster is the main villain giving him the orders but doesn't get anything memorable to do and has a very strange accent going on, which seems to represent the wealthy characters though it's unclear and I thought it seemed dubbed. It's an entertaining ride but problem is that despite good moments and some great effects, the more typical plot elements need editing down to smooth over the parts that are all too convenient or just incredibly trite. I still look forward to the next release by these film makers but this dampens things a little.




Things have got really bad when you start to wonder "maybe the Roland Emmerich directed White House movie would have been a better choice?" It's very tedious and the derivative wannabe Die Hard action mixed with a current affairs North Korea plot holds zero entertainment value. I expected more from the casting but this delivers on nothing. It get's one point for one good wise crack in the whole thing.