Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Feb. 27
This week’s comic book contribution is the third (so far) alternate universe pic to be released in 2013. In each case scenario the future looks old, but the digital worlds of tomorrow manufactured for Upside Down and Oblivion are fun romantic holidays in contrast to the derivative vacation from cinema that is Elysium.
The year is 2154. A middle class is a thing of the past; all that remain on earth are fascist robots and the poor and disenfranchised, left behind to grovel in the war-ravaged remains. Those wealthy enough to escape the petulance live the good life on Elysium, a giant space condo in the sky, the carrot floating high above the heads of the have-nots.
With Bruce Willis getting too old for this sort of shit, Matt Damon agrees to assume the role of Max, a wise-cracking factory worker with a celebrated criminal past. Just when serious-actor Damon is beginning to grow on me, he shifts gears to grab a stack of easy comic book lucre. Before being exposed to radiation, Damon plays the same charming stumblebum we’ve come to know in countless space operas that came before. It’s a character that’s as common to Hollywood’s depiction of the future as a flying transport. Once the nuclear particles kick in, Damon hulks through his role as if auditioning for a part in an upcoming George Romero “living dead” sequel.
Exposure to radiation leaves Max with five days to live. It’s up to our tattooed, muscle bound hero with the Yul Brynner ‘Pharaoh’ cut to hightail it to the ruote-shaped space station and find an ER.
Elysium is ruled by iron woman, Jodie Foster. The actress seems content to have finally parlayed her Academy Award into a comic book villain. (It’s her Catwoman.) With a pixie haircut and put-on accent, Foster places a stranglehold on every choking closeup thrown her way. Rowdy earthlings sport common sleeve-tattoos; residents of Elysium wear barely perceptible stints, digitally burned into their faces and arms. All, that is, except Foster who didn’t want the audience (or her plastic surgeon) to mistake the futuristic brands for crow's feet.
Sharlto Copley plays Foster’s evil earthbound liaison. And I thought Foster’s accent was untenable. Only 30% of the gargling that emerges from Copley’s mouth was intelligible.
Writer, director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) threw away his tripod, scrawled the titles, RoboCop, Mad Max, and Total Recall on his palm and then proceeded to wash it. This is the result of that blurred ink stain.
Reader Rating: Zero Stars
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