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Review: 'Elysium'

August 9, 2013 8:26 a.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Elysium."

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: It’s a crowded field of movies opening this weekend with R-rated films facing off against family friendly fare. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this review of “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon.

ELYSIUM 1 (ba).wav 1:20

If you’ve been going to the movies recently you might think the planet’s in constant peril from aliens, zombies, and even a Biblical apocalypse. “Elysium” serves up an earth so polluted, ravaged, and diseased that all the rich folks have moved to a resort-style refuge on a space station. It’s a class system where the citizens on the space station chat in French, but those struggling to survive below speak mostly in Spanish.

CLIP man speaks in Spanish.

South African director Neil Blomkamp painted a similarly divided future in his first film “District 9.” That’s probably what prompted Hollywood to tap him for this summer sci-fi actioner. But while “District 9” raged with originality, “Elysium” smacks of little more than trite formula.

CLIP 3 undocumented ships are approaching Elysium air space… Shoot them down.

Set in the 22nd century, the film has some nice effects but nothing to rival the cleverness of “District 9,” which had less than a third of this film’s $100 million budget. But “Elysium” does tap into the anger about the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor. So it may be a popcorn movie but it hits a nerve about the discontent growing among the have-nots, a discontent that could lead to civil unrest. But not to worry, it’s just a movie. Right?

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.