Elysium (film)

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Elysium Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Produced by
Written by Neill Blomkamp
Music by Ryan Amon
Cinematography Trent Opaloch
Edited by
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
  • August 7, 2013 (2013-08-07) (Taiwan)
  • August 9, 2013 (2013-08-09) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
Country United States[2]
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
Budget $115 million[3]
Box office $286.1 million[3]

Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction film produced, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley.[4] The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design) called Elysium.[5] The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.[6] The film was released on August 9, 2013 by TriStar Pictures, 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 discs in Region 1 on December 17, 2013.


In 2154, Earth is overpopulated and polluted. Most of the earth's citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic space habitat located in Earth's orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced with some of its technology including Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process, and regenerate new body parts. A long-running feud exists between the wealthy residents of Elysium and the citizens of Earth, who want Elysian technology to cure their medical ailments.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief on parole, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company run by John Carlyle (William Fichtner), who had originally designed Elysium, and now supplies its weaponry, as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max is trapped in a chamber and is hit by a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued, he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek help from a human smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.

Meanwhile, when a trio of ships full of illegal immigrants from Earth attempts to reach Elysium and its Med-Bays, Elysian Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to destroy the shuttles. While two of the shuttles are shot down in space, killing everyone on board, the third shuttle makes it; but, once on Elysium, everyone on board is either killed or arrested and deported. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) reprimands her for her immoral and unsubtle methods and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Regarded as a loose cannon, Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with John Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium's computer core to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the reboot program in his brain for transport to Elysium and encrypts it with a lethal protection program.

Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider's men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider's men, Max shoots down Carlyle's ship, and in the ensuing firefight with Carlyle's security droids, Carlyle is fatally wounded. Max downloads the program to his suit's neural implant but realizes that the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft by Carlyle's medical implant, Delacourt secretly reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program. In the ensuing shootout, Julio is killed and Max is wounded. He reaches out to his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), now a nurse, whose daughter Matilda has leukemia. Frey begs Max to take Matilda to Elysium to be cured, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Soon after Max's leaving, Kruger, alongside two more mercenaries, Drake and Crowe, arrive and brutally interrogate Frey; and, when Kruger realizes Matilda is sick, they take Frey and Matilda prisoner aboard his ship, while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy enough time to recover Carlyle's program.

Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that the program can be used to make all Earth residents Elysian citizens. However, because the lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, unaware that Kruger has already found out that Frey assisted Max and is holding her and Matilda hostage on the ship. As Kruger's ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lockdown lift and also board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger's ship, a fight ensues and Kruger is grievously wounded by a grenade blast, which also disables the ship's engines. After Kruger's ship crashes on Elysium, Max is knocked out by Drake after a struggle while Frey runs to a house with an unconscious Matilda and puts her on a Med-Bay, only to find that it only works on Elysian citizens. At that moment, Crowe arrives and subdues Frey with a taser. Afterwards, Max, Frey and Matilda are taken to Delacourt, who orders the download 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 supply room.

After being restored in a Med-Bay by Drake and Crowe, a defiant Kruger kills Delacourt after she chastises him for his recklessness. On Kruger's orders, Drake and Crowe exterminate the Elysian political officers in order to seize control for themselves. Meanwhile, having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use Carlyle's program to give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. After being ordered by Kruger to kill Frey and Matilda, Crowe enters the supply room and prepares to sexually assault Frey first, but is killed by Max, who also kills Drake before freeing Frey and Matilda. Max then meets up with Spider, who has one of his members escort Frey and Matilda to a nearby Med-Bay. They then head for Elysium's core but are ambushed by Kruger, now equipped with a military-grade exoskeleton far superior to Max's. In the ensuing fight, Max manages to rip out Kruger's neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. However, Kruger tethers himself to Max's suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.

Spider and Max reach Elysium's computer core, where Spider realizes that the program's activation will kill Max. Max personally activates the program, having spoken a last time with Frey via radio. As Max dies, Elysium's computer core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives with security guards 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 huge fleet of medical ships to begin treatment of the citizens of Earth.



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 Media Rights Capital and TriStar Pictures.[7] Although the film's story is set in 2154, Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition.[8] "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."[9] 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.[10] With a production budget of $115 million,[11] 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, while 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra.[16] 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 when he wrote a copyrighted screenplay that was substantially similar to the movie. Several months before filing a lawsuit, he registered his screenplay to the U.S. Copyright Office to file an infringement complaint.[17]


When the film was first announced, Sony intended to release it in late 2012.[10] It later set an official release date for March 8, 2013,[18] before moving one week earlier to prevent competing against Oz the Great and Powerful.[19] In October 2012, Sony then announced they had pushed back the release date to August 9, 2013.[20] 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.[21] On December 17, 2013, Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray discs in Region 1.


Elysium grossed $93 million in North America and $193 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $286.1 million against a budget of $115 million.[3] The film opened on August 9, 2013, and grossed $11.1 million on its opening day, ranking #1. It proceeded to rank #1 for the weekend, grossing $29.8 million.[22]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 67% approval rating and an average rating of 6.5/10 based on 229 reviews. The website's 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."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

In February 2015, while promoting his newest film, Chappie, director Neil Blomkamp expressed some regrets regarding Elysium, commenting: "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."[26]


Art Directors Guild 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
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
Award Category Result
Golden Schmoes Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year and Biggest Disappointment of the Year Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards 2013
Award Nominee Result
Hollywood Movie Award Neill Blomkamp Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Awards 2013
Award Category Result
IGN Award Best Sci-Fi Movie Nominated
Jupiter Award 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
Jupiter Award Best International Film Neill Blomkamp Nominated
Leo Awards 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
Leo Best Visual Effects Motion Picture Peter Muyzers
Andrew Chapman
Shawn Walsh
Cabral Rock
Satellite Awards 2013
Award Category Nominee Result
Satellite Award Best Sound (Editing & Mixing) Christopher Scarabosio
Craig Berkey
Dave Whitehead
David Husby
Visual Effects Society Awards 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
VES Award Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture Jean Lapointe
Jordan Benwick
Robin Hackl
Janeen Elliott
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture Votch Levi
Joshua Ong
Barry Poon
Kent Matheson


  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ELYSIUM (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  2. ^ "Elysium (2013)". The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Elysium (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. December 17, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ "First Look at Sharlto Copley in Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'". Rogue (company). Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ "SDCC: 'Elysium' Viral Launches". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media, LLC. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "Elysium: Matt Damon's Action Movie for the 99%". Vulture. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike. "3RD UPDATE: Sony Pictures Snaps Up Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'; Matt Damon And Jodie Foster Set To Star". Deadline. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  8. ^ Smith, Sean (August 2, 2013). "Future Shock". Entertainment Weekly. New York, New York: 36–43. 
  9. ^ "The Future is Now: 'Elysium' Mega-Trailer and Two More Clips". Rogue. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Kit, Borys (January 19, 2011). "Sony Snags 'District 9' Director Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Neill Blomkamp talks 'Elysium'". Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  12. ^ "The bald identity: Matt Damon shaves his head for new tough guy role". Daily Mail. London: Associated Newspapers Ltd. July 21, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Eminem and Die Antwoord's Ninja both turned down lead in sci-fi film". July 18, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Matt Damon stepped in for Eminem in 'Elysium'". CNN. August 1, 2013. 
  15. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (October 10, 2012). "Matt Damon Takes A Small Part In Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem". Cinema Blend. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ Siegemund-Broka, Austin (June 2013). "'Elysium' Composer on How to Write an 'Organic' Score (Hint: Hire Monkeys and Mosquitos)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  17. ^ "Elysium - Lawsuit.pdf" (PDF). Wikileaks. August 31, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  18. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 9, 2011). "Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium' Has a Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 9, 2011). "Luna in talks to join 'Elysium'". Variety. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 15, 2012). "Sony Pushes 'Robocop' to 2014, Moves 'Elysium' to Summer 2013". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Elysium New Trailer". Film-Summary. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 9-11, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Elysium (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  24. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/elysium
  25. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. [permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "New 'Alien' and 'Chappie' Director Neill Blomkamp On 'Elysium': 'I F*cked It Up'". uproxx.com. February 26, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 

External links[edit]