One of my personal “most anticipated” of the summer is Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, opening in theaters August 9. In it Matt Damon plays a factory worker takes on a mission to hijack his way onto a man-made space habitat. While we haven’t had a chance to check out the sci-fi actioneer yet, a slew of first reviews hit the Web early Thursday morning. While it appears the action will keep you munching on your popcorn, your brain allegedly will go numb from all of the metaphors. Spoiler Warning.
Variety says that District 9 writer-director Neill Blomkamp “delivers a less dazzling but absorbing and intelligent bit of futurism,” adding, “Yet if Elysium falls short as social commentary, as entertainment it rarely falters. The final act, a breathless cat-and-mouse game inside Elysium’s industrial core.”
“Bang go the guns, ka-boom go the metaphors,” TheWrap jokes. “In his follow-up to District 9, Blomkamp once again delivers on the action while over-delivering on the message. Still, as an effects-laden action piece, Elysium delivers the goods. It might not be the thinking man’s fill-in-the-blank that some viewers were eagerly anticipating, but it’s a solid adventure that oversells its deeper meanings.”
The Hollywood Reporter adds: “Vivid visuals and a pointedly political context are let down by conventional action and conceptual limitations in another big budget Sony shortfaller.” But they do give major props to Damon for his performance, even though his “upgrades” limit him physically. “His noggin shaved, Damon comes off credibly as a ticking time bomb in the early-going but becomes unduly constrained by his metal apparatus later on.” They also thought the design of the film’s future was poorly conceived, adding, “Conceptually as well, Blomkamp has failed to take the extra step with both the ruling class and the denizens of the lower depths; despite the fact that the action is set 131 years hence, both look exactly as they do now.“