Neill Blomkamp’s first movie, District 9, was a cracker. A taut, beautifully crafted movie that did exciting things people hadn’t even thought of, and it deserved its critical applause.

Elysium is Blomkamp’s subsequent movie. It again centres on questions of power relationships between and within different groups. In Blomkamp’s beautifully rendered imagination, a future Elysium parallels the Greek conception of a place separate from mortal existence: an off-planet habitat where the wealthy live in luxury, and can access unmatched health technology. On the home planet, people live in squalor and suffer under an unjust system. The cinematography is stunning – it captures a chaotic world of dirt and dust and poverty, and it takes good work to capture that effectively.

Some reviews argue that the political message is too strong, or the structure too crude. It is in a sense no less political than Blomkamp’s earlier work, but here the focus is less on different species and races, than on differences between groups of people who control resources, and those who do not. The final action sequences felt slightly unnecessary to me, and perhaps the conclusion a little easy. But overall, this is still an excellent movie, and I recommend it.

I’m looking forward to seeing Chappie.


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