Polluted, overpopulated and disease-ridden, Earth is almost uninhabitable. While the poor are left to waste away on Earth, the rich prosper on the luxury spacecraft Elysium, a state-of-the-art man-made estate, with machines that can cure disease and reverse the ageing process. Many people are desperate to escape their hell on Earth, trying and failing in their attempts to reach Elysium. After a life-threatening radiation accident, Max (Matt Damon) is forced to travel to Elysium to fight not only for his survival but also for the fate of Earth as well.

This socially conscious sci-fi thriller touches on broader issues such as the running out of natural resources, illegal immigration threatening America and the power struggles between the rich and poor.

The computer-generated imagery and production design by Philip Ivey, who previously worked on The Lord of the Rings and District 9, showcases this power struggle by contrasting a dusty, barren LA with the hi-tech, glamorous world of Elysium.

Blomkamp uses quick-speed camera techniques to bring you into the gruesome action but it can become a bit jarring at times.

Matt Damon is believable as the heartfelt hero while Elysium’s minister of defence Delacourt, who is played by Jodie Foster, is a confusing mix of French, English and American.

Sharlto Copley, better known for his role as Wikus van der Merwe in District 9, proves to be the highlight of Elysium for a South African audience as Delacourt’s undercover agent Kruger. Brandon Auret, better known as Doep from Isidingo, plays alongside Copley as one of his henchmen. The two give the film a true South African feel with their use of Afrikaans slang.

Brilliantly directed, Elysium’s social commentary is unfortunately lost in its intense focus on action and plot.

Rating: 6/10

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