by Brad Nelson 1/3/14
Unless a truly egregious bit of cultural pollution comes along (such as James Cameron’s Avatar), I’ve gotten out of the habit of reviewing bad movies. Life is just too short. If one had to comment on all the noise in this degraded Leftist culture, there wouldn’t be much time to do anything else.
But the sci-fi movie, Elysium, is worth a comment or two. First off, it should be noted that this is from the same writer/director (Neill Blomkamp) who did the bizarre, but entertaining, District 9. And most of the terrestrial shots in Elysium look like leftover footage from that film.
The implied (but not executed) theme of this film is along the lines of the classic Star Trek episode, The Cloud Minders. In that episode, there is a poor, slave-like class of workers on the surface of the planet whose lot in life is to mine the valuable mineral, zienite, which is the source of wealth for the rulers of the planet who live above in the luxurious floating city of Stratos.
In this Star Trek episode, we become intimately familiar with the “let them eat cake” better-than-thou attitude of the elite class above toward those on the planet below who labor in dirt and filth with little gain or hope of improving their lot. In this episode, the “one percenters” in the cloud city of Stratos really do exist, and are not just a liberal myth. And they are obviously unfair taskmasters. The word “exploitation” truly does apply.
And as for the minors down on the planet, these are not your spoiled-brat Occupy Wall Streeters from rich families who camp out in public parks, smelling like well-dressed urine-stained yaks, in pseudo-solidaritiy with some imagined class of “the poor” while they twiddle away on their hi-tech iPhones. The minors of the planet Merak II (as it’s called) have legitimate grievances with the Cloud Minders of Stratos. They toil for very little gain, and the very mineral that they are mining emits a poisonous gas — a gas that effects their brains and adversely effects their cognitive functions (not unlike a “Progressive” education, one could say).
In the movie in question, Elysium, the writer/director tries to get this same Star Trek vibe going by showing early-on in the movie the dust-laden inhabitants who live on the surface of the earth, mainly in and around California. These inhabitants are all poor (for some unstated reason — most of this movie is full of unstated and unrealized themes). And these poor live in shanty towns reminiscent of a third-world country.
Our liberal hearts are all torn, of course, because — incredibly (who’d have thunk it?) — nearly all of these poor, rural, earth-bound Californians (who are not privileged to live in the utopian satellite above) are Mexicans. Interestingly, this state of affairs, rather than being an evil-capitalist conservative thing, better mirrors what is actually occurring today in California due to Leftist, not conservative, policies. Liberals live in their eco-topian urban zones where environment-wacko land use restrictions cause property prices to skyrocket. This puts these urban zones out of reach of the 99%. They might as well be living in a satellite above earth, while the poor illegal aliens live in shanty towns in rural areas, as documented by Victor Davis Hanson.
But at least the liberals “care.” The movie begins by showing Matt Damon laboring in Dickensian working conditions in a factory down on earth. This is one of the many factories (one supposes there are several…again, so much of his movie is unrealized) which sells goods to the wealthy elites who live in the utopian-like satellite city that orbits earth. Matt is obviously a “victim” of the “evil capitalists.”
Okay, so far, so good (or so clichéd, depending upon your point of view). But this Dickensian aspect is soon forgotten. And quite unlike the Star Trek episode, it is not at all apparent that the wealthy one-percenters who live in their utopian-like satellite city do so at the expense of those below. These elites don’t appear to own or control the planet below. At best, it would appear that they simply do business (heavy-handed though it may be) with sub-contractors on the earth, but otherwise leave those on the planet to do as they wish. And those below seem to be living in a state very close to nature. Why? The movie doesn’t tell us.
So…although this movies tries to get a “poor vs. the one-percenters” Cultural Marxist vibe going, what it actually portrays (unintended or otherwise) is more along the lines of Atlas Shrugged wherein the producers have all apparently left earth to its vices so that they may live a life better than the egalitarian, multiculturalist squalor and violence of below. And living passively in this squalor seems to be (as far as one can tell) the organizing principle of the terrestrial crowd on earth
Granted, none of this is spelled out. And that is the real flaw of this movie. It partially sets up a scenario, but never follows through with it. Never do we get into the heads of the “Cloud Minders” in the satellite above. They are in no way humanized (or even made into proper villains). Thus, despite all the spilt blood and hyper-kineticism of Matt Damon, there is no us-vs.-them conflict that is built that makes any sense. One is thus left trying to do the work that the writer/director should have done in the first place, and that is trying to make some sense of this garbled movie.
Suffice it to say that you would be way better off to take in another viewing of Star Trek’s “The Cloud Minders” than to view yet another bit of Hollywood incoherence. There is very little to commend this film. At every step, little of it makes logical sense, even taking into account that in a movie “making sense” generally is held to a less stringent standard.
However, if you wish to do a bit of PhD-level spelunking as a cultural anthropologist into the mind of modern man, you will see further evidence of the propensity of this culture toward artless incoherence. Apparently as long as there are enough things jiggling and bleeding on screen (with a few cool effects thrown in), that is enough. And in this category, Elysium excels. They should perhaps start giving an Academy Award for “most incoherent film with lots of things jiggling about that don’t make any overall sense.” This movie would be a nominee.
And if someone can figure out why Jody Foster is doing that stupid accent, please let me know.