Quick Movie Review – Elysium

After hitting a home run with his debut picture, District 9, Neill Blomkamp hits the dreaded sophomore slump with this follow up Elysium. Matt Damon (Max) plays an average man in Los Angeles, year 2154. The earth has been wrecked by overcrowding and pollution. The uber-rich are able to leave the Earth and live in a paradisal space station, Elysium, orbiting the planet. Back on earth, Blomkamp draws parallels to modern society ills: police brutally, high unemployment, lack of health care, etc. Jodie Foster (Delacourt) is the Secretary of Defense on Elysium and it falls under her domain to get the less desirables for access the space station in search for a better life. Sharlto Copley (Kruger) is the psychopathic bad guy hired by Foster, to help her achieve her goals.

One of the many weaknesses of the movie is the lack of empathy for the main characters, We meet Max and his childhood BFF, Frey in flashbacks and see a tiny window of their bond. We never see the relationship between Max and Frey as adults, so there is no investment as to what happens to them. Matt Daman is his usual affable self but is given very little to work with. Jodie Foster is one of today’s best actors but in Elysium, she comes across as very stiff and mannered. Sharlto Copley is clearly miscast as the bad guy. As great as it is to see a diverse group actors on the screen, the dueling accents: South African, Mexican, Brazilian and whatever the hell Jodie was doing was very distracting.

Neill Blomkamp is an interesting director and I hope he returns to form with his next feature film.

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Quick Movie Review – Carnage

Roman Polanski’s new movie Carnage is an adaption Yasmina Reza’s Tony award winning play God of Carnage. Penelope and Michael Longstreet invite Nancy and Alan Cowan over to discuss a fight between their sons at a public park in New York City. Jodie Foster and John C. Riley play the parents of the injured boy (Ethan) while Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) stand in for his attacker (Zachary). On its surface Carnage is a movie about a simple gathering that spins wildly out of control. Part of the hilarity stems from the character development – which is cleverly forged out of their interactions with each other and inanimate objects. The rest is based upon pure dialogue expertly executed. Shot in real time it was fascinating to see a film focused on four people transform into something so dynamic when it was shot in such a small space. With a top notch cast, somehow John C. Riley manages to steal the show.