I thought this movie looked and sounded great. It's too bad it couldn't have been supported by a great story. My hopes were high for this one, considering how great of a movie District 9 was.
In contrast, this movie was so hokey, drawn-out, sappy, and preachy, that it was just a monumental disappointment. The acting was fine (although my wife really hated Foster's portrayal, and Copley was hard to understand at points), but the plot and script really needed some work.
As for those who didn't feel as though the film were trying to make a point or drawing explicit parallels to existing world conditions, here's a quote from and Entertainment Weekly article
about the movie:
So: Health care. Immigration. Economic disparities. Environmental degradation. Any of this sound familiar? “Everybody wants to ask me lately about my prediction for the future, whether I think this is what will happen in 140 years,” Blomkamp says, riding shotgun in a red Prius amid the soft green lawns and swaying palm trees of Beverly Hills. “No, no, no. This isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now.”
Whether you agree or disagree with his point of view, it's hard not to argue that it permeated the movie to the point of distraction. In contrast, I didn't get the same feeling from District 9. Yes, there were also obvious parallels in that one, but the movie didn't dwell on them, nor did it offer up simplistic solutions to the problem. They were spices added to the story, but they didn't overshadow the plot.
Two questions did pop into my head during watching it, though. First the non-spoiler: Who does all the work on Elysium? Yes, we see some robots doing basic tasks, but if the space station is reserved for the rich, who does all the work that can't be done by robots? Are they allowed housing on Elysium? Wouldn't that require some kind of ghetto (at least in the eyes of the rich), or do they live with the rich, segregated in parts of their housing? We don't really learn anything about the residents of Elysium, they're just painted as faceless antagonists.
The second question I had was about the
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
medical pods. The status symbol that drives so much of the story. They're common enough to exist in every home on Elysium, even though the average family isn't going to need them more a few times per year. Yet all the houses have them. That would seem to indicate that they aren't overly expensive (otherwise people would pool their resources to share such a rarely-used item. With them being so common and available on Elysium, why aren't there any on Earth? Is there some reason that the medical offices couldn't have one? Or, barring that, why wouldn't Spider and his gang be able to scrounge up enough parts to cobble one together and sell underground health services? There should be a huge market for that with all the people remaining on Earth, not to mention much less risky to use than trying to fly shuttles to Elysium.
I hope Blomkamp gets another crack at making this kind of movie, but scales back the propaganda and remembers that the story has to come first.