This is not Halo... okay well it sort of is.
"He can save us."

Hello everyone, welcome back to The Tagline! As promised, yesterday I went to the movies to see Elysium, and I got a lot more than I bargained for. Starring Matt Damon as Max, a former criminal now factory worker, Elysium is set in the future, in the year 2154. The Earth as far as we see is an almost entirely dessicated rock, overcrowded and completely polluted. The wealthy elite live in a space habitat called Elysium, where they have magic tubes that keep them from aging or being sick, and they live in opulent space luxury. Meanwhile on Earth people struggle to survive, and mostly seem to be failing. Max is among these people and let me run you through a quick day in the life: Leave early for work, get hassled by some bangers about working. Get stopped by robot police, make a sarcastic joke, have your arm broken by said robot police. Report to a robotic parole officer, who adds eight months to your parole, and does the robot equivalent of telling you to piss off. Offers you pills for your anger. Finally get to awful dangerous factory job, get docked half a day's pay for being late because robots assaulted you while waiting for the bus. The next day, basically be forced into a radioactive pressure cooker, be exposed to a lethal dose of rads, get given some pills by a robot and told you're dead in 5 days. Welcome to the future.

The bad guy in this movie was the protagonist in District 9.
So as a person who only very recently escaped the grimness of the retail service "industry" there were aspects of this opening sequence that were a little too real for my liking. Sure it was the space future with robots, but the sort of hopeless, senseless drudgery and being treated like less than trash, and told you should be thankful... well that's not the hypothetical future, it's the very practical present. I still dream about my time in retail sometimes, it haunts me. So while the movie did a really good job capturing a futuristic nightmare version of that... maybe too real for me. Overall this movie is very, very grim. From the previews it looks like Matt Damon is this noble underdog savior going up to bring freedom to the downtrodden, but the truth is that he is trying to get to Elysium to save his own irradiated ass. In this movie there aren't really a lot of heroes. There are criminals who seem to be kind of well meaning, and there are government types who are essentially agents of Satan himself. Also rich space people. Who mostly seem white, and then everyone on Earth seems to be Spanish. I know it's in LA but come on man, that seems kind of racist.

This is the closest to a hero we get.
The action is gruesome but effective, and the visuals are bleak but impressive. The plot likewise is tight and well paced. The director of District 9 also directed this film (and District 9's protagonist stars as this films major antagonist) and he seems to know what he's doing in terms of pacing. The trailers really emphasize the robot exo-armor Matt Damon has, but mostly that's there so he can remotely function at all. He spends the movie almost dying a BUNCH. Now that I've set the scene and talked briefly about highlights and my own deep-seated emotional issues, let's talk in depth about the things that bugged the shit out of me for this whole movie.

Jodie Foster is the evil queen of space.
1)Magic Infinite Space Healing: Now we see that anyone who is a citizen of Elysium has access to a magic life tube that basically makes them safe from any kind of infirmity. It takes like about ten seconds. I get that the movie is supposed to be about the plight of the future poor against the rich but like, why can't they send some magic life beds down to Earth? Do they not have the right size outlet plugs or something? Probably around 5 of those things could heal everyone in the world in like a fucking week. Also can they not make more? They seem to have plenty of them in space, but Earth hospitals look like Mad Max. Again I get that this is the whole point of the narrative, but once you have magic life tubes the whole sick and poor thing starts to strain credulity. I know Jodie Foster is a real asshole but this is a bit much.

OR have dudes in exo-suits doing heavy labor.
2)Why can't the robots be used to work in factories and shit: So Matt Damon and a bunch of dudes work in an obviously dangerous factory, making robots who are smart enough to go around beating the living shit out of anyone who sasses them. This begs the question WHY CAN'T ROBOTS DO ALL THE SHITHOLE WORK. Is it some sort of work incentive thing? We don't have robots working here so you can do it, and die obviously. The future seems deliberately designed to be as fucking miserable as possible, despite the presence of technology that seems like it could prevent all that shit.

Fucking asshole robots.
3)Get really cheesey at the end: So at the end, things start to get really sentimental and hammy, which is a sharp 180 from the rest of the movie, which was literally like a waking nightmare for me. I mean it wasn't all rainbows and daisies, but it was comparatively. I don't see how the end really changed the inherent problems of the future, unless the only thing keeping people as poor slaves on Earth really was just Jodie Foster being a huge bitch to them.

Anyway, while it was a well composed movie and it was reasonably well executed, some seriously unexplained shit and my own emotional distress kept me from really enjoying this movie too much. I think my real problem was less what characters were doing, and more why they were doing it. I'm all for grim darkness in the dystopian future, but even in that setting, you either want it to be ALL about the grimness, or you want to have a good guy, even if that good guy is just the mercenary who sighs before he turns around to jump in and help. The problem with Max is there is just never that choice. He doesn't really choose to help anyone other than himself. It just sort of works out that he doesn't have much of an alternative. It's the choice to do good that makes a person seem heroic in a movie, even if they're also kind of a scumbag. I felt like the movie was trying to sell me on "look at this guy he's saving everyone! What a hero." whereas really it was more like "Look at this guy trying to save himself, but then he fucks that up and ultimately can choose to either help everyone and die, or not help anyone and die". That makes the act seem a lot less impressive to me. Still I would've been okay with that if the movie hadn't been trying to TELL me one thing, while it SHOWED me something else. You might feel differently than me, but ultimately I think that was the biggest thing that kept me from really liking Elysium. I should also mention that it was pretty gruesomely violent too, so be ready for that as well.

That's all for today! Join me next week for GI Joes and other stuff, most certainly we will be hearing about Kick Ass 2, which hits theaters this Friday!

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