Saturday, August 10, 2013

Off topic: Movie review -- Elysium

Yesterday I went to see Elysium at the IMAX theater in Emeryville, CA. You can save your $17. (Yes, here in the US it was $17, or $16 for seniors -- Oh boy, we saved a dollar!) There is lots of fantastic, grungy post-apocalyptic eye candy in it, yet the overall experience was very disappointing. Predictable, almost campy plot and script, an unusually disappointing performance by Jodie Foster as sinister lady, Matt Damon as Matt Damon, and way too much insipid brutality. 

The fight scenes were somewhere close to ridiculous, and shot so close and jerky that I had a hard time figuring out who was punching, knifing and shooting whom. And, of course the principal nefarious bounty hunter in search of Matt Damon sports an Australian accent that's so thick you wish they had subtitled it, and carries a Samurai sword as his primary weapon, just for the gruesomeness of it all. Carrying a sword makes a lot of sense and when you're up against ubermachine guns, laser beams and grenade launchers. The only thing missing was that cheery old line from Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a knife. THIS is a knife." 

I wouldn't have minded the violence so much if there hadn't been so many seemingly-endless minutes of it. After a while you kind of want to know what's going on and who's winning in all that hand-held, Blair Witch Projecty, slo-mo shake and blur. In the obligatory Shoot out at the OK Corral in space, the Robotically-enhanced dudes (the Aussie vs Matt) propel each other 10 or 20 feet repeatedly, landing on broken glass, spikes, pointy edges of rocket ships, being Mega-tasered, and yet never bruise or a nose-bleed.  Even Ironman would've had a short-circuit and called timeout for a reboot. (Okay, Matt Damon gets a cut on his hand once and you see a few drops of blood, and he gets a kiddy Band-Aid on his eyebrow.)

Jodie Foster (to my disappointment, since I usually enjoy her), has apparently no idea how to act the role of the despicable, Machiavellian political usurper. I think her prep for the part consisted of crib notes from Cruella Deville for Dummies. I just don't think mean is in her nature. Glenn Close must not have been available. Central Casting earned a Fail. 

And, of course, the "IMAX Experience" (probably by contractural terms with Dolby THX) requires that the sound level be cranked so high that you leave the theater with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing). I had my trusty earplugs with me, thank goodness. Filmmakers wonder why we want to stay home and watch movies on Netflix. At least we can control the volume and cost of the popcorn.

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