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Worst Movie In A Long Time - Qualified Perceptions
Worst Movie In A Long Time
Okay, I have been asked for a rant. :)

Last weekend, justom convinced harrock and I to see Elysium, but my goodness, it was terrible. I think part of the problem was that I was expecting something a little more clever, and I expected something better from Jodie Foster and Matt Damon, so when it turned out to be about as stupid as Die Hard 2 (my personal touchstone for disappointingly stupid action movies), I just couldn't forgive it.

  • They flew the shuttles up to the space station and LANDED ON THE LAWN. (No, it doesn't work the same way as Ringworld. The rim mountains are a thousand miles high. The space station walls are what, 100 feet high? You can't take a shoebox full of air into space and expect gravity to keep the air in the shoebox.) Okay, I can handwave "invisible magic force fields that keep the air out but not the spaceships", but in that case, maybe you should tune them to keep the spaceships out too if you don't want them landing on your lawn?
  • "Encryption" seems to mean "you can read the file, but there's a little popup dialog box in the middle of the screen that says it's encrypted." Plus the "no copy" functionality seems to mean "you can copy it but the original hardware self-destructs" which is really not the best protocol for protection from data theft.
  • My God, Jodie Foster, what happened to you? Your Pauses and Portentious Remarks were truly Shatnerian, but where did the twitching come from? (I had no real objections to Matt Damon's acting, though I wish he been given a larger range to play in than angry/stoic/sick.)
  • The whole thing with the way you defend your space station from invaders is a guy standing on the ground shooting the ships down with a rocket launcher? Really?
  • The ending is solved by "reboot the government, after setting the flag to 'everyone is privileged'." Okay, I do appreciate that the theme is about the 1% and health care and the rebels are all motivated by For The Children... but it's really too glib to say that the solution to economic inequality is to just give everyone enough to make them rich, without taking anything away from anyone else. ("We were all living in a socialist utopia all along, we just didn't realize because nobody had pushed the button!" -Tom) And, okay, I can't expect my stupid action movies to come up with a sensible solution to the problems we can't solve in real life, but... I guess I'll just fall back to "glib" again.


  • 8 comments or Leave a comment
    countertorque From: countertorque Date: August 17th, 2013 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Well, that's too bad. The trailer looked good.
    firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: August 17th, 2013 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
    A lot of movie critics apparently do not agree with me, so do take with a grain of salt. :)
    arcanology From: arcanology Date: August 19th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I think a certain type of critic/person wants to do scifi and fantasy but feels ashamed. So they need an excuse, and when given one they love the result even if it is terrible. So in this case Social Meaning means they are allowed to watch spaceships and that makes them happy. Another good example is whenever a fantasy novel is declared Real Fiction and so can be read by these people, who love it even though it is weak by fantasy or any novel standards (see: The Magicians, Strange & Norrell).
    marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: August 17th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
    You trusted justom?! Fools!!!
    rifmeister From: rifmeister Date: August 17th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
    So, on the one hand, I agree almost with everything you say [exception: it's not clear the former Elysium citizens didn't lose in the reboot --- I tend to think they lost fairly big]. On the other hand, I went in with very low expectations ["I want to sit down for two hours!"] and enjoyed it a little more than expected.

    Ignoring the scientific implausibilities and Jodie Foster's scenery chewing, the thing that jumped out at me was the way the very combination of setting and premise seemed inherently contradictory. On the one hand, they're going for "gritty, realistic sci-fi world" rather than comic book or camp or fantastical, and on the other hand, they want to mix levels of epicness such that a random factory worker can directly completely change the political structure of the entire world. I think the combination of these two is already unresolveable --- there's no way to do it except introducing a technical MacGuffin like the reboot which even in world is absolutely laughable [it is the plot equivalent of "Whoever holds the original copy of the Constitution gets to edit it and be president.]

    So it can never be a great scifi film; it's deeply flawed right from the premise. Nevertheless, because this premise leads to assassin game style mechanics ["We are eking out our political differences with 1:1 violence!], and because it's the kind of movie I would've wanted to make as a kid before I realized this kind of thing is impossible to do right, I have a soft spot in my heart for it. And given all the flaws, I felt the execution was tolerably good.
    lillibet From: lillibet Date: August 17th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Thank you! Yes!

    The whole story felt deliberately dumb and blinkered to me. One thing that kept nudging me was the assertion that the whole world was now an over-crowded slum--and then they showed us a couple of neighborhoods in LA, which, if I understand things correctly, were shot in the slums of Mexico City. It's too easy for me to believe that ok, all of LA now looks like the bad parts of the DF, but what about Columbus, Ohio? What about Lyon? What about Stockholm?

    Also, I would have really liked a few minutes about 1) how government works--is Elysium really ruling the whole world? y'know, it really does take a whole lot of running, even at a very minimal level and 2) I wanted to see what people on Elysium were doing with all their spare time--even the very wealthy people I've known don't spend all their time at pool parties.

    This could have been interesting, but they decided to do something profoundly boring with it, instead. Ah well.
    firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: August 17th, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
    There's an extent to which I am willing to give the premise of a movie a pass on plausibility: all the world is a slum except the rich people on the space station (and maybe in other enclaves that we never see). It's like, everyone is in a tank being run by the Matrix, or giant robots like to turn into cars because cars are cool, or the pyramids were alien landing pads... it's okay if the premise is a little crazy, it's the later stuff that isn't free.
    twe From: twe Date: August 20th, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Wow, that sounds really awful, but utterly plausible from the trailer I saw. Disappointing though, given that it came from the guy who did District 9.
    8 comments or Leave a comment