Elysium (d. Neill Blomkamp USA 2013)

Elysium (d. Neill Blomkamp USA 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews.


Elysium is one of the more eagerly awaited films in the cinemas at the moment. A science fiction, action film it is easy to build up some expectations of what you’ll see and wont experience. This film was a surprise to me in many ways. Not least because I’m not a fan of Matt Damon. I also wasn’t expecting anything with this amount of depth.


Elysium boasts a really impressive use of cinematography. Along with some of the beautiful standards; like shallow depth of field with close ups, and the similar focus pull; there were some notable moments of over the shoulder follow shots – which hinted at similar uses in video games. Although, not often used in cinema, these shots were highly effective at upping the action sequences. These shots may well have taken influence from video games but they were not to function as simulating the video games they were based on. Instead, they both are an attempt to keep alignment with the protagonist within a hectic battle. They function similar to the point of view shot but offers a stylistic twist. A daring move as it draws attention to the cinematic process whilst nodding to video games and could therefore break the diegesis of the film. However, if accepted, they are an interesting and exciting way to create dramatic tension within an action sequence. Despite the unoriginality of the aforementioned focus pull and shallow depth of field, they were used extremely well. They were used to create interesting and beautiful shots that added to each scene. Yes, a trend, but a successful one none-the-less.


(May contain spoilers) In spite of the technical capabilities of the film, the film is fairly generic in its narrative, running similar to other ‘effects films’ centred on conspiracies. Elysium does, however, offer a thematic difference. Most films focusing on conspiracy, take an individual who accepts a cause to fight against a powerful leader(s), in a battle against odds. This film still centres on an individual but aligns him with a class of person and the leader he fights, shows a corruption of the very class they are a part of. Therefore the film argues for the working class as good people who deserve to overthrow and become equals with the upper class who have become drunk with power. Each man in power, easily dismisses the life of the working class.


It would not be right to neglect to mention the special effects in this film. Briefly let me stress that there were many elaborate machines of both digital and mechanical origins. They contrasted well with each other and showed a past-like future, in the mechanical, and a utopian future, in the digital. They were well-made and created some stunning visuals, that were very relevant to the films plot and themes.


In conclusion, Elysium, is an exciting film that actually has a depth greater than its ‘look-at-me’ effects. The use of cinema actually attempts to be more than it has to be and for this I commend it. There is a lot to give excitement beyond the characters and the action, who are not under the standards of the rest of the film. I believe Elysium is a powerful film.


Further Reading



Official Site and UK

Interview with Neill Blomkamp

Interview with Jodie Foster

Interview with Cast and Crew

Elysium’s Originality

Special Effects of Elysium

Elysium Morality

Matt Damon

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