Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Written by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Music by||Ryan Amon|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$286.1 million|
Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction action film written, produced and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design, one of the proposed NASA designs) called Elysium. The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.
The film was released on August 9, 2013 by Sony Pictures Releasing through the TriStar Pictures label, in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters. It was a modest success and received generally positive reviews from critics, even though many considered it a disappointment after Blomkamp's first film District 9. Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013.
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In 2154, Earth citizens live in poverty. The rich and powerful live on Elysium, a gigantic space habitat in Earth's orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced, with devices that can cure all diseases, reverse aging, and regenerate body parts. A feud exists between Elysium and Earth, whose residents want Elysian technology to cure their illnesses.
Max Da Costa lives in Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne. Run by CEO John Carlyle, who designed Elysium, Armadyne produces Elysium's weaponry and the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident, Max is trapped in a kiln and is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. He is rescued and informed that he has five days to live. Carlyle refuses to help him, and Max is only given medication to stop the symptoms until his death. Max and his friend Julio seek help from a human smuggler named Spider to get him to Elysium in order to use a Med-Bay.
When three ships carrying immigrants from Earth attempt to reach Elysium, Defense Secretary Delacourt orders agent Kruger to destroy them. Two shuttles are shot down in space but the third is not. Once on Elysium everyone on board is killed or deported. Elysian President Patel reprimands Delacourt for her response and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt gives Carlyle millions of dollars in weapon contracts to create a program that can override Elysium's computer to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the program in his brain to take to Elysium and encrypts it with a program that would kill him in case of any attempt to manipulate or extract the data.
Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal information from Carlyle. Spider's men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and Spider's men, Max shoots down Carlyle's ship. In the firefight with Carlyle's security droids, Carlyle dies. Max downloads the program to his suit's neural implant but the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft, Delacourt reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program.
In a shootout, Julio is killed and Max is wounded. He contacts his friend Frey, a nurse. Frey begs Max to take her daughter Matilda to Elysium to be cured of Leukemia, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Kruger, alongside mercenaries Drake and Crowe, arrive and interrogate Frey; when Kruger realizes that Matilda is sick, they take Frey and Matilda aboard his ship while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles.
Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that it can be used to make Earth's residents Elysian citizens. The lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, so Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, unaware that Kruger is holding Frey and Matilda hostage. As Kruger's ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lifting of the lockdown and board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger's ship, a fight erupts and Kruger is wounded by a grenade, which disables the ship's engines.
After the ship crashes on Elysium, Max is knocked out by Drake, while Frey escapes with Matilda to a mansion, and discovers that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens. Crowe arrives and subdues Frey with a taser. Max, Frey and Matilda are taken to Delacourt, who orders the decryption of the program despite the fact that it will kill Max. She then orders Frey and Matilda to be taken away by Crowe, who locks them in a room.
After being restored in a Med-Bay, Kruger kills Delacourt. Drake and Crowe assassinate Elysian political officers in order to seize control. Having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use the program and give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. After being ordered by Kruger to kill Frey and Matilda, Crowe prepares to rape Frey first, but Max kills him and Drake and frees Frey and Matilda.
Max meets up with Spider, who has Frey and Matilda escorted to a Med-Bay. They head for Elysium's computer core but are ambushed by Kruger. Max rips out Kruger's neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. Kruger tethers himself to Max's suit and arms a grenade to kill them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge, killing him. Spider and Max reach Elysium's core, where Spider realizes that the program's activation will kill Max.
Max activates the program. As Max dies, Elysium's core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium's computer dispatches a fleet of medical ships to treat the people of Earth.
- Matt Damon as Max Da Costa
- Maxwell Perry Cotton as young Max
- Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt
- Alice Braga as Frey Santiago
- Valentina Giron as young Frey
- Sharlto Copley as Agent M. Kruger
- Diego Luna as Julio
- Wagner Moura as Spider
- William Fichtner as John Carlyle
- Brandon Auret as Drake
- Josh Blacker as Crowe
- Faran Tahir as President Patel
- Emma Tremblay as Matilda Santiago
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro
- Adrian Holmes as Manuel
- Jared Keeso as Rico
- Michael Mando - Rico (Uncredited)
- Carly Pope, Ona Grauer and Michael Shanks as CCB agents
Elysium was produced by Bill Block, Neill Blomkamp, and Simon Kinberg, and written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the director and co-writer of District 9 (2009). It reunites Blomkamp with some of his District 9 crew, such as editor Julian Clarke, production designer Philip Ivey, cinematographer Trent Opaloch, and actor Sharlto Copley, playing one of the film's antagonists. Elysium is a co-production of TriStar Pictures and MRC.
Although the film's story is set in 2154, Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition. "Everybody wants to ask me lately about my predictions for the future," the director has said, "No, no, no. This isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now." In January 2011, independent studio Media Rights Capital met with major studios to distribute Elysium, and Blomkamp shared art designs of his proposed science fiction film. The art designs won over the executives at Sony Pictures, who bought the film after making a more attractive offer than the other studios.
With a production budget of $115 million, production began in July 2011. The film's Earth-bound scenes were shot in a dump in the poor Iztapalapa district on the outskirts of Mexico City. The scenes for Elysium were shot in Vancouver and the wealthy Huixquilucan-Interlomas suburbs of Mexico City. Matt Damon shaved his head for the role of Max. The main role was first offered to Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja), a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role.
The role was then offered to rapper Eminem, but he wanted the film to be shot in Detroit. That was not an option for the two studios, so Blomkamp moved on to Damon as his next choice. Futuristic designs were executed by Philip Ivey after long periods of researching and studying older science fiction films. Ivey has continuously cited Syd Mead as a substantial influence for the film.
Weta Workshop created the exosuits for Damon and Copley's characters, while the complicated visual effects were handled primarily by Image Engine (who also collaborated on District 9) with additional work by Whiskytree, MPC, The Embassy and Industrial Light and Magic. Re-shoots took place through October 2012. The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The soundtrack was released on August 6, 2013.
In October 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Steve Wilson Briggs accusing the crew of copyright infringement, claiming he wrote a screenplay that was substantially similar to the movie. Several months before filing a lawsuit, he registered his screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office to file an infringement complaint.
On 3 October 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found in favour of the film's producers.
When the film was first announced, Sony intended to release it in late 2012. It later set an official release date for March 8, 2013, before moving one week earlier to prevent competing against Oz the Great and Powerful. In October 2012, Sony then announced they had pushed back the release date to August 9, 2013. In April 2013, Sony also announced that the film would be specifically reformatted for IMAX theaters. By that time, two theatrical trailers and a TV spot had already been showcased. Elysium was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013 and later released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 9, 2021 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Elysium grossed $93.1 million in North America and $193.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $286.1 million, against a production budget of $115 million. It made a net profit of $18 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
The film opened on August 9, 2013, and grossed $11.1 million on its opening day, ranking No. 1. It proceeded to rank No. 1 for the weekend, grossing $29.8 million.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 65% based on 255 reviews, with an average rating of 6.47/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
I feel like I fucked it up, I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story... I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn't... I just didn't make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn't there; the story wasn't fully there.
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- Art Directors Guild 2014
|Excellence in Production Design Award||Fantasy Film||Philip Ivey (production designer)
Don Macaulay (supervising art director)
Nancy Anna Brown (set designer - Canada unit)
Ross Dempster (art director - Canada unit)
Hania Robledo (art director - Mexico unit)
Catherine Ircha (assistant art director - Canada unit)
Luis Antonio Ordoñez (assistant art director - Mexico unit)
Syd Mead (conceptual artist)
David Clarke (set designer - Canada unit)
Mira Caveno (set designer - Canada unit)
Ravi Bansal (concept artist)
Ron Turner (concept artist)
Mitchell Stuart (concept artist)
Christian Pearce (concept designer)
Leri Greer (concept designer)
Stuart Thomas (concept designer)
Aaron Beck (concept designer)
Ben Mauro (concept designer)
TyRuben Ellingson (concept designer)
George Hull (concept designer)
Brent Boates (storyboard artist)
Robert Pratt (storyboard artist)
Ray Lai (illustrator)
Rob Jensen (illustrator)
Andy Chung (previsualization artist)
Peter Lando (set decorator - Canada unit)
Gabriela Matus (set decorator - Mexico unit)
- Golden Schmoes Awards 2013
|Golden Schmoes||Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year and Biggest Disappointment of the Year||Nominated|
- Hollywood Film Awards 2013
|Hollywood Movie Award||Neill Blomkamp||Nominated|
- IGN Summer Movie Awards 2013
|IGN Award||Best Sci-Fi Movie||Nominated|
- Jupiter Award 2014
|Jupiter Award||Best International Film||Neill Blomkamp||Nominated|
- Leo Awards 2014
|Leo||Best Visual Effects Motion Picture||Peter Muyzers
- Satellite Awards 2013
|Satellite Award||Best Sound (Editing & Mixing)||Christopher Scarabosio
- Visual Effects Society Awards 2014
|VES Award||Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture||Jean Lapointe
|Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Votch Levi
- Ghosst – Performed by Lorn
- Robot Eater – Performed by Gambit
- The Pining Pt2 – Performed by Chris Clark (as Clark) with Martina Topley-Bird
- We Got More (Kilon TeK Remix) – Performed by Brendan Angelides (as Eskmo)
- Metropolis (Dan Le Sac Remix) – Performed by PRDCTV
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor 'Pathetique' – Adagio Cantabile - Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Suite For Solo Cello No.1 BWV 1007 – Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Kou Kou – Performed by Palms Down Percussion
- Twitch (It Grows and It Grows) – Performed by Raffertie
- Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major – Rondo Vivace - Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Bio Techno – Written and performed by Audio Android
- Loner – Performed by Burial
- New World Disorder – Performed by Arkasia
- Six Degrees – Performed by Kryptic Minds
- Stjernekiggeri – Written and Performed by Mike Sheridan
- Sierra Leone – Performed by Mt Eden
- Elysium – Performed by Ryan Amon
- List of action films of the 2010s
- List of films featuring space stations
- List of films featuring powered exoskeletons
- List of films featuring drones
- List of science fiction films
- Grey: Digital Target
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