Friday, August 30, 2013

The Worlds End ~ On The Road To The Apocalypse With Pegg and Frost

The world is going to end someday...  Unlike "This Is the End,” the apocalypse is not supernatural.  In fact, it is quite natural in the context of recent Hollywood blockbusters.  Like the zombie film parody, "Shaun of The Dead" and the buddy cop film parody "Hot Fuzz," "The World's End," is just that, a parody about the end of the world but with heart.  When I was young, on weekends I would watch Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's "On the Road" pictures.  I get the same warm – fuzzy feeling with the Simon Pegg - Nick Frost films.  With “The World's End,” the fourth film the two have starred in together, we wind up a trilogy of films with loosely connected themes.  Some call them the “Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy, while to others it is simply the "Cornetto" trilogy.

Director Edgar Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg tell a darker tale (what's darker than zombies, dog muck, thieving kids and crusty jugglers?) of the end times by taking us on an allegorical tale set in the quiet town of Newton Haven, and is symbolized in a pub crawl.  Not just any pub-crawl, mind you.  This pub-crawl is one of epic proportions and life on Earth as we know it depends on it.  Gary King (Pegg) starts the film by relating how he and his four friends from school were in their glory days.  Gary retells the night that he and his best buds tried to do the Golden Mile 20 years ago when they graduated from High School and were about to set on their great adventure as adults.  One night back in the late 1980's there was 5 friends, 12 pubs, 60 pints of beer (1 pint per pub per person) all in one night.  They never make it.  Drunkenness befalls two of the friends sooner rather than later, and a bag of weed take the rest.  The three remaining comrades fall short by three pubs and pass out.
Now that we live in the Facebook age, how many of your old friends from your past have you connected with, only to realize that they never grew up.  This is the case with Gary.  Gary lives his life as a single man, lives in a small flat, and has no family, except his mum.  As Janis Joplin says in "Me and Bobby McGee," - "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose," and that is Gary.

After contemplating his life Gary decides to get the gang back together and try the pub-crawl again one more time for old times' sake. 

There is a lot of witty dialog that takes place throughout the film and a lot of it happens while Gary convinces his friends to come with him.  First, there is the shy and goofy high-end car salesman Peter Page, who is played by Eddie Marsden (“Jack the Giant Slayer”).  There is Oliver Chamberlain, a realtor, played by Martin Freeman ("The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy"), whose sister, Gary had a short fling with in the handicapped stalls back in their high school days.  Oliver, as a kid had a weird birthmark on his forehead, which looked somewhat like the numerals 666.  Of course, the kids nicknamed him Oliver the "O-man.”  The scar becomes relevant later in the film, as the town is inhabited by robots impersonating humans.  Paddy Considine ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "Hot Fuzz") plays Steven Prince.  He was the bass player in the band King had back in school, and although he is not married, he is dating a 26-year-old fitness instructor.  By the way, he had a crush on Oliver's sister Sam, as well.  Finally, we meet Gary's oldest and best friend, and the one who seems to be the most hurt by something Gary had done at some point, Andy Knightley.  Pegg’s oldest and closest friend in real life, Nick Frost, plays Andy.

In "Shaun of the Dead," and "Hot Fuzz," Frost has a co-starring role in the films, and plays mostly Pegg's foil in each of those films.  In "The World's End" Frost has stronger role and is able to show off more of his acting skills.  Take note of the last names of all of the friend's last names, as there seems to be some reason as to why the royal monikers given to each of them.  King, Page, Prince, Chamberlain and Knightly each have a role in the royal court, and here too in this film one can see the roles of the King, Knightly, and Prince as opposed to the Page, and the Chamberlain.  While drinking at the first of the pubs of the evening, The Old Familiar, Oliver's sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) appears briefly and brings back the rivalry between Gary and Steve that plays out throughout the film.

Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg explore themes of lost youth and dreams diminished in the day to day of adult life.  The film delves into alienation, using science fiction films as a basis to get this point across.  References to films like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and the old Christopher Lee film "The End of The World" show how humanity is replaced by technology and alien thoughts in the last twenty something years.  The 1950's version of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" stands as a reference to the reasons why an alien civilization may be interested in mere humans.  A simple pub-crawl becomes an adventure in a comical Tolkien-like fable.  Characters like old Basil (David Bradley from the Harry Potter films) plays the standard old lunatic that no one believes and therefore is harmless.  Yet he is the keeper of the truth in a Lovecraftian way.  Former Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan makes an appearance as former schoolteacher, Guy Shephard.  His role as the authoritarian of the group's youth is there to remind Gary (mostly) of his unconventional ways and how it is better to submit.  Once again, the idea of settling for what some in today's world call normalcy, to let go of our individuality and become a robot, a slave to conventionality.

The scenes at the different pubs and the walk between them are tied together very nicely by music that takes those of us who remember the wild days of the late 1980's back to that time in our lives.  From songs like Primal Scream's "Loaded”, that shouts out the anthem and Gary's goal in life: "We want to be free, we want to get loaded, we want to have a good time." to the Door's version of "Alabama Song," or Suede's "So Young.”  The soundtrack for "The World's End" is in itself golden and makes the film worth viewing just to see how deftly Edgar Wright and crew weave the songs into and around the dialog and action.  The climax of "The World's End" would have made Douglas Adams proud if he were still alive to see it.  The dialog between King and the alien invaders pays homage to Adams and his legacy of logic, absurdity, and freedom that the "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" has given us.

The film wraps up all the comedy, the action, and insane dialog in a big way, and although not everything returns to the way it was before, there is some consolation that the world is once again right.  The story we are told was actually delivered by Andy (Frost) in much the way Tom Hanks main character retells his story over a campfire in "Cloud Atlas" indicating that everything is connected.  It isn't until the very end, which the last wrapper of a mint Cornetto flutters by that we see that indeed, everything is connected.  If you don't do yourself the favor of seeing "The World's End" on the big screen, at least take the time and watch it when it comes out on DVD or Blu-ray.

Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy
Year:  2013
Staring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike
Director:  Edgar Wright
Producer(s): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park
Writer: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Rating: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: 8/23/2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Riddick ~ Ambush

Riddick - Banner - 0005 | A Constantly Racing Mind

Riddick takes on not only mercenaries, but he also takes on some bizarre creatures. 

"The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he's encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won't leave the planet without Riddick's head as their trophy."

In Theaters September 6th, 2013.


Riddick - Creature Trailers
Riddick ~ Motion Comic
Riddick ~ Cinema Spot
Riddick Rule The Dark ~ New Poster 
Riddick ~ New Trailer
Riddick Is Back!

Movie Data

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Year: 2013
Staring: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff
Director: David Twohy
Producer(s): Vin Diesel, Ted Field, Samantha Vincent
Writer: David Twohy, Jim Wheat
Rating: R
Running Time: 119 minutes
Release Date: 9/6/2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

You're Next ~ Violence For The Love Of Violence

How much do you know about the significant other you bring home to meet your parents?
The movie "You're Next" brings to the screen violence, for the sake of violence, and violence without meaning, and death without honor.  A family reunion turns into a deadly cat and mouse game within a matter of minutes.  Slasher film director, Adam Winegard, gives what horror films seem to want, tension, foreboding, and plenty of blood and gruesome death scenes.  "You're Next" runs about an hour and thirty for minutes and is rated R for extreme violence.

People without morality, make you question not only the human race, but also ask the question; do we, as a species deserve to survive?  "You're Next," answers that question of humanity’s survival from the highest level with a simple no.  Don't get me wrong, I do like a good slasher film.  Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers were my favorite slashers back in the day.  In my mind, these monsters were just that, monsters.  In many ways, the death they perpetrated was like the shark in "Jaws," or the alien in "Alien."  They killed because that is their purpose.

After a quick character sketch of a family getting ready to reunite, we meet our main characters and find them at best bland, and at worst, unlikable.  The family arrives in twos.  Paul and Aubry arrive first.  A couple in their fifties, Paul is played by Bob Moran, and his wife Aubrey is played by Barbara Compton ("The Lords of Salem").  They arrive at their vacation home to get ready for the rest of the family.  Next, to arrive is Crispin (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson).  Crispin, we find is second oldest of the kids.  The oldest is Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his wife, Kelly (Margaret Laney) arrives the next morning.  We soon discover that Drake is an ass to Crispin, and Kelly is just a bitch.  Later that same night the other two siblings arrive.  Aimee (Amy Seimetz) and her boyfriend Tariq played by low budget horror director of "Cabin Fever 2," Ti West.  The youngest of Paul and Aubry's kids is Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and the dark and mysterious girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn).

...and then there were none.

In some ways, the characters names and purpose are irrelevant as they are just ax fodder.  The murders begin at dinner, less than 20 minutes into the flick.  actually, there is an incidental murder of a college professor and one of his students just down the road just to whet your appetite.  Like in the Wes Craven's "Scream," the three killers are masked as a sheep, a tiger, and a fox.  The amount of violence is unnecessary to make the point of the film, which when revealed near the end makes the amount of blood absurd.  Actually, the methods of the murders were too personal.  Instead of just shooting the family, the killers use arrows, a machete, and an ax and knifes.  These are all very personal weapons that belie the hate involved in this film.  Unlike this year's "The Purge," we find "You're Next" to be a cheap version of the home-invasion slasher film.

The acting is stilted and the story is contrived.  In the midst of the group, a hero is exposed.  Erin (Vinson) turns out to have been raised as a survivalist.  Even her boyfriend Crispen doesn't know that little gem of information.  Erin reminds me of "Home Alone" as she sets up traps, she organizes the resistance, and she goes on the offensive.  At a certain point in the film, perhaps around the 45-minute mark, I just wanted everyone to die so I can get out of there.  I am not squeamish when it comes to blood on the silver screen.  I am squeamish when it comes to a bad script.  Screenwriter Simon Barrett's script left me unfulfilled.

We go to horror films to let out those pent up emotions, and for the adrenaline rush.  I felt neither.  I felt sad for the actors in the film.  Why, because "You're Next" will be quickly forgotten.

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Year: 2013
Staring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton
Director: Adam Wingard
Producer(s): Simon Barrett, Keith Calder, Jessica Wu
Writer: Simon Barrett
Rating: R

Running Time: 94 minutes
Release Date: 8/23/2012

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sleeping With Your Eyes Open

Sleeping with your eyes open,
Resting your tattered brain.
Take another sip of brandy.
Snort another line of cocaine.

Hiding out in the bathroom,
Lying in the corner of the floor,
Sleeping with your eyes open.
Don’t wanna party no more.

Sleeping away a headache,
Awake, but nobody home.
Take another hit of ganja,
Just wanna be left alone.

Don’t wanna give your number.
Wanna leave the pretty girls behind
Don’t wanna drop more acid
Don’t wanna mess with your mind.

Take another shot of vodka
Here, have a sip of mine
You can’t even use your cellphone
‘Cause there is no one on the line.

Sleeping with your eyes open,
Resting your tortured brain.
Have another swig of whiskey
People think that you’re insane.

© By R. A. Barbere

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Insidious Chapter 2 ~ Family Curse

Insidious Chapter 2 Witch Demon| A Constantly Racing Mind

Coming to theaters on September 6th, "Insidious Chapter 2" takes you back to The Further. For those of you who remember the first installment of this dark tale of possession, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) went into The Further to retrieve the soul of his comatose son. Upon returning to the world, something went very wrong, and in the final seconds of the film we find out. 

Check out this new trailer, titled "Family Curse." It's one thing to live in a haunted house as in "The Conjuring," however, it is another thing to realize that it is your family that is being haunted!

Returning from "Insidious" is Rose Byrne ("Sunshine") to reprise her role as Renai Lambert, wife to Josh (Patrick Wilson) and mother to Dalton, played by Ty Simpkins ("Iron Man 3"), and young Foster (Andrew Astor). Also returning for the second chapter is horror alum Barbara Hershey ("The Entity") comes back as Josh's mother, Lorraine.

Here is the official synopsis from Film District:

"The famed horror team of director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell reunite with the original cast of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins in INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2, the terrifying sequel to the acclaimed horror film, which follows the haunted Lambert family as they seek to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world."

Insidious Chapter 2 Banner | A Constantly Racing MindRelease date for "Insidious: Chapter 2" is Friday the 13th of September 2013


Insidious Chapter 2 ~ Into The Further With Our Fears
Insidious Chapter 2 ~ It's Still Happening
Insidious Chapter 2 ~ First Look Trailer
Insidious: Chapter 2 ~ Poster
Reviewing a New American Horror Classic - Insidious

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Year: 2013
Staring:Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins
Director:James Wan
Producer(s)Jason Blum,Oren Peli,Steven Schneider
Writer:Leigh Whannell
Rated PG-13
Running Time: 105 minutes
Release Date: 9/13/2013
All images are courtesy of Film District

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Insidious Chapter 2 ~ It's Still Happening

Insidious Chapter 2 Banner | A Constantly Racing Mind

Coming to theaters on September 6th, "Insidious Chapter 2" takes you back to The Further. For those of you who remember the first installment of this dark tale of possession, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) went into The Further to retrieve the soul of his comatose son. Upon returning to the world, something went very wrong, and in the final seconds of the film we find out. 

Check out this new trailer, where Josh tells Renai that something followed him out of the further.

Returning from "Insidious" is Rose Byrne ("Sunshine") to reprise her role as Renai Lambert, wife to Josh (Patrick Wilson) and mother to Dalton, played by Ty Simpkins ("Iron Man 3"), and young Foster (Andrew Astor). Also returning for the second chapter is horror alum Barbara Hershey ("The Entity") comes back as Josh's mother, Lorraine.

Insidious Chapter 2 Shhhhh | A Constantly Racing Mind

Here is the official synopsis from Film District:

"The famed horror team of director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell reunite with the original cast of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins in INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2, the terrifying sequel to the acclaimed horror film, which follows the haunted Lambert family as they seek to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world."

Release date for "Insidious: Chapter 2" is Friday the 13th of September 2013

Insidious Chapter 2 ~ Into The Further With Our Fears
Insidious Chapter 2 ~ First Look Trailer
Insidious: Chapter 2 ~ Poster
Reviewing a New American Horror Classic - Insidious

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Year: 2013
Staring:Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins
Director:James Wan
Producer(s)Jason Blum,Oren Peli,Steven Schneider
Writer:Leigh Whannell
Rated PG-13
Running Time: 105 minutes
Release Date: 9/13/2013
All images are courtesy of Film District

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forgotten Memories

Turning, looking past the
Ghost in the mirror.
Light, flickering as the
Scent of flowers rose.
Cold, entering her bones and the
Hair on her arms stands on end.
Time, frozen seemingly
Forever as a dust mote hangs in the air.
Silence, envelopes the room while
Drowning out her fear.
Eyes, wide and calm while the young woman
Smiles in recognition of the apparition.
Withered, yellow, and boney fingers grasps
The young woman's hand.
Together, the two touch each other
In a forgotten embrace.
© 2011 By R. A. Barbere

Source Code; A Review of a New Film by Duncan Jones

Source Code ~ Jake Gyllenhaal _ Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
"Tell Me Everything is Going to Be Okay?"

If you look up the definition of the term 'Source Code' in the dictionary, you will find something that goes like this: "A text listing of commands to be compiled or assembled into an executable computer program." I spent many years in the computer programming industry so when I heard that Duncan Jones was calling his new film Source Code I was immediately puzzled. However, as the film unfolds, and actor Jake Gyllenhaal's character develops in the film I was unquestionably intrigued. Michelle Monaghan plays a virtual ghost image of a woman who earlier died that day in an explosion on a Chicago commuter train. Jeffrey Wright stars as Dr. Rutledge, a somewhat sadistic scientist, and Vera Farmiga star as Capt. Colleen Goodwin, an Air Force officer assigned to act as liaison between Rutledge and Gyllenhaal's Capt. Colter Stevens character. This is Duncan Jones's second film, with "Moon" being his first. Although an excellent story, "Moon" was was also exceptionally well directed, acted and edited, however, made little money at the box office. "Source Code" is rated PG-13, and although there is violence, Jones plays it down by using it only to advance the story, the acting, and the film's pacing.
Suddenly, waking up disoriented, after dozing on the morning ride into Chicago, and on his way to work, Gyllenhaal's character is confused, as a pretty woman across from him says,
"I took your advice. It was very good advice."
Confused he tells the woman that she has him mistaken for someone else. He introduces himself as Capt. Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot stationed out in Afghanistan. A series of events takes place that will burn in the audience's mind. A woman spills some coffee; the pretty woman he was talking to whose name is Christine (Monaghan), and her cell phone rings with a call from her ex-boyfriend; the conductor asks for his ticket. Dazed and confused, Colter excuses himself from his morning commuting partner to go to the bathroom and splash some water on his face and get a hold of himself. While in the bathroom; Colter Stevens sees a face in the mirror that is not himself. We all do from time to time, but this time is more unsettling for him than usual. Checking his driver's license, only to find that his name is Sean Fentress; Stevens exits the restroom, Christine greets him, and they talk briefly, and then the scene explodes in a fiery blast.
Colter Stevens wakes from the horrific experience in a dark room, strapped into a chair that seems to be from the Middle-Ages, in a room, where the equipment is advanced but in a state of disrepair. A video screen comes on, and the image of a woman Air Force officer appears and starts badgering Colter with questions.
"Did you find who the bomber is?" 
Thrown off by the explosion, the confusion of the train encounter with the stunning woman in the train, and disorientation of not recognizing the cockpit of the vehicle he's strapped into. Again the woman questions him about the bomber. Adhering to a military protocol that he's familiar with; Stevens requests that he speak to his commanding officer, and questions who this woman works for.
"Beleaguered Castle" is Goodwin's (Farmiga) reply.
"There is a hydraulic fluid leak" Stevens says.
"That is irrelevant." Goodwin says sharply.
Goodwin starts a pattern recognition sequence, quoting the following,
"Lily awoke in an evening dress in an outbrook look. In her hand were 5 playing cards."
A series of five playing cards appear on his screen, and after briefly showing them, Goodwin asks Stevens to repeat them. After jogging his memory, Stevens is told that he must go back and focus on finding who the bomber is. Realizing that this must be a simulation of some sort, Stevens goes along with Goodwin; while he just wants some details. In the background, we find that Dr. Rutledge's (Wright) mad scientific experiments have led him to utilizing that last latent memories of a dead man. Interpreting the last 8 minutes of residual images up till the time of death, Rutledge turns this data into strings of code, naming it the "Source Code." Now remember the definition of Source Code. The code is compiled by a computer, which in turns uses this data. In this case, it seems that Capt. Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan is the compiling computer. Each time the Capt. Is sent back he discovers, by process of elimination, and observation, where the bomb is and who the bomber is. Each time, he dies a horrible death, only to awake painfully, frightened and confused. Stevens also finds himself drawing closer and closer to Christine. Rutledge is a sadist, not caring for Stevens feelings, he sends him back to the torture of knowing that he can't save Christine or any of the other passengers; only to die the same horrible death each time.

Source Code ~ Capt. Colter Stevens - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Jake Gyllenhaal is likable  convincing with his two day-old facial hair, and cheap suit of a school teacher. We find that throughout the years, while commuting on Chicago's train into the city; Fentress has come to know many of the regular passengers including Christine. We also realize that Sean the school teacher is boring. Stevens starts trying to save Christina from certain disaster and eventually find out his fate, the fate of Capt. Stevens, who regrets leaving for the military with anger in his heart for his father. One of the themes of Source Code is redemption, and Colter Stevens dearly wants to redeem himself with his father and tell the man he is sorry and that he loves him. By the end of the film, Goodwin finds herself also seeking redemption, for her participation in the sin of experimenting with wounded soldiers compelled to do the bidding of the state. Another theme that is both in Source Code and in Moon is that of people as property. First what constitute people? Are clones property? Are military officers the property of the state? Once again altered realities as in Inception, play a vital role in Source Code, but there is more. Michelle Monaghan's character Christine is, for Stevens, the actual goal. Finding the bomb, diffusing it, and finding out who the bomber, is become secondary to Stevens mission. What Steven's sees is only a side effect of "parabolic calculus" and quantum physics. Thank God writer Ben Ripley's script doesn't go into much scientific gobbledygook that would just interfere with the pacing of a story. We know just enough to go along.
Almost all great stories have the theme of love, and Source Code does too. What isn't counted on by Rutledge, played expertly by Wright, is Capt. Stevens' spirit to live and to love. The love that grows between Christine and Stevens/ Fentress that starts fresh with fondness, then care and then into something akin to love that is not sappy or melodramatic, but believable. Credit for making this happen goes to both Jones and to Monaghan. Monaghan, who plays Christine with a subtlety that, is perfect for this type of action - thriller - romance. Kudos goes to Jones for the subtle looks, and clues that he slowly reveals about the dead Christine. Memory is also a central theme. Stevens' apparent amnesia and slow recollection of his past events in his "real" life; give the audience a clue into a world that, although is dreamlike, but also is alterable. Exploring alternative realities, Jones delves into the possibility of one world crossing over into the next. While scientists like Rutledge explore the possibilities that Quantum Physics offers, which thankfully still fall squarely in the domain of Science Fiction. Because I believe, as is shown in Source Code, that the ability for man's technological ability far surpasses man's conscience and his soul. I like Source Code and I like the combination of both Jake and Michelle as a screen couple. I also like Vera Farmiga's role as an officer and a lady with a conscience. Jones is careful and deliberate, but doesn't allow too many details to detract from the story or the pacing I also liked that in spite of being installed with the "Source Code," Capt. Colter Stevens still controls his own destiny. See it as a date film in the theater, or when it arrives on DVD and Blu-ray, "Source Code" is worth watching.

Movie Data

Genre:  Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year: 2011 
Staring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga,Jeffrey Wright
Director: Duncan Jones
Producer(s): Mark Gordon, Philippe Rousselet, Jordan Wynn
Writer: Ben Ripley
Running Time: 93 minutes
Release Date: 4/1/2011
Originally Posted on: Yahoo Voices on 4/20/2011

Monday, August 12, 2013

Elysium ~ Somewhere Over The Wheel In The Sky

Elysium ~ Poster 001 | A Constantly Racing Mind
W atching the trailers and hearing the promotional hype for Neil Blomkamp’s new film, "Elysium," you might get the idea that this movie is going to set the social-political world on fire.  "Elysium" is many things but not that.  The more the world changes the more people stay the same.  It doesn't matter if it is ten years in the future, or one-hundred and fifty, people's mentality doesn't change that easily.  What Neil Blomkamp tries in “Elysium” is to unify the character, the plot, with the CGI, to a point where the audience forgets that they are watching a film, and become fully immersed in a Sci-Fi world.  Matt Damon ("The Bourne Identity," "The Adjustment Bureau"), Jodi Foster ("Contact," "Panic Room") and Alice Braga ("Predators," "I am Legend")  star in this film about a futuristic Robin Hood taking on the aristocracy. “Elysium” runs about an hour and forty-nine minutes and is R for the violence.

The setup is simple, the year is 2154, and the world is polluted, overcrowded, and just extremely third worldish.  The aristocracy has built themselves a world, just out of reach of Earth's downtrodden, but just close enough to be either, a hope, or a tease.  The giant torus, a circular wheel like space station where the rich call Elysium orbits in a geosynchronous orbit over Los Angeles.  The Ancient Greeks believed that Elysium is where the righteous and the heroic go to a happy afterlife.  To a young orphan boy and a girl, it is a goal that they set their sights on while still innocent.  The world of the future is where robots tend to our every need.  That is, of course, that you are part of the social elite with the money and pedigree. 

Max De Acosta (Damon) lives in a world with little hope.  Los Angeles of the future is nothing more than a giant favela.  Max's world is a place where knowledge is power, and it can be uploaded or downloaded from a computer, into, or out of our brains.  He works in a factory where profit is job one, and safety be damned.  Max who is more of an anti-hero, an ex-con, an orphan, and he is a product of his environment.  A former car thief now on probation, Max is working at a factory that makes security robots.  The factory is owned by corporcrat and CEO, John Carlyle, and top citizen of Elysium, who stands aloof above the workers in his factory.He dismisses the board of directors with a swipe of a finger and demands from his underlings more work and more profits.  While on the floor below Max is doused with a lethal dose of radiation and now has a true motivation to seek the medical attention that only citizens of Elysium can afford.

Elysium ~ Matt Damon 001 | A Constantly Racing Mind

Like the world we live in today, there are the coyotes, the immigrant traffickers, who for a price, will give you a new identity, genetically bonded to your DNA, and a ride to Elysium.  The ride might be short lived, as we see to what extent Jodi Foster's character, Secretary of Homeland Defense, Jessica Delacourt will go to keep out the unwanted.  The part of Delacourt was written for a man; however, Foster plays the part with much malice, and cunning, that makes the audience want more of her, yet want her dead all the same.  After ordering the murder of 42 illegals, she justifies her position to the President, (Faran Tahir) that she will do whatever is necessary to protect what they have created for themselves and their offspring.  She speaks with an accent that is not recognizable, yet in some ways reminds me of the former South African Apartheid leaders, although not quite.  She represents a government who stands against the unwashed masses. 

What is shown early in the film, during the illegals scenes is a mother and daughter who do escape death.  They run for the nearest house (think mansion) and breaks in (how dare she!) and places her ill daughter on a medical table.  This device seems to be as common as a stove or refrigerator in every house.  After a few scans; one to determine citizenship, another to diagnose the illness, and with the final scan the machine eradicates the sickness from the little girl’s body.  The mother and daughter are apprehended by the robot security force, the unthinking machines that enforce homeland security, and they are deported back to Earth.  This scene sets precedence for future scenes in the film.  It tells us that what the people on Earth want is not a purely social revolution, but just some sense of equality as people.

Elysium ~ Los Angeles 001 | A Constantly Racing Mind

Where there are politicians with big smiles and seemingly clean hands, there are those who lurk in the shadows.  Kruger is such a character, a henchmen who operates from the slums of Earth, "District 9's" Sharlto Copley plays Kruger as a one-dimensional shark-like character, whom, in acts one and two is a perpetual hunter focused on his prey.  His South African accent is incomprehensible most of the time, but his intent is clear.  In act three, the Kruger’s character changes both physically, and mentally.  Not that this is a character that grows, but in some way devolves into less than character that takes over as the main antagonist, replacing Delacourt, but without the charm and disdain.

Alice Braga plays strange characters in her films.  She is not quite the love interest, well certainly not a lover, and sometimes she has a child with her, one that is not necessarily her own.  Sometimes she totes a gun, and sometimes she is just along for the ride.  In “Elysium,” she is Max's childhood friend, who unlike Max, left the city, became a doctor, and had a child.  The father is nowhere in the story, however, her daughter Matilda (Emma Tremblay) is dying of Leukemia.  In many ways, this puts Frey in the very same position as Delacourt.  Frey would do anything for her child.

Elysium ~ Alice Braga 001 | A Constantly Racing Mind

Throughout the film Ryan Amon's score seems to borrow heavily from Inception and the deep bass sounds of impending doom, to J.S. Bach concertos, and all the way to the industrial sounds of Lorn, PRDCTV, Audio Android, and the like of Arkasia to name a few.  The music sets the mood and increases the tension, however, in some cases, especially when Kruger is speaking distracts even more his lines. The question "what did he say" could be heard in whispers throughout the theater.

As a Science Fiction film goes, there are many nice Science Fiction elements to see.  The space environment is breathtaking, and unfortunately, we don’t explore much of it.  We see many of the mansions and some parties but not much of the city life on Elysium.  There are vertical take-off and landing vehicles that I think today's military will drool over, if they are not already working on prototypes of the craft that Kruger uses.  There are communication devices that have digital displays on your wrists (the texting section of a cell phone on your wrist maybe?).  One element of Sci-Fi tropes is the dehumanizing of man.  This takes form of an exoskeleton, that Max is forced to where in order to equalize the battle against the machines.  The suit is an attempt to make Max less man and more like a machine as in "Star Wars" Darth Vader became more machine than a man.  Max fights against this with all his might, as near the end of the film, he sees a part of his body not covered in mechanics, a symbol that Frey tattooed on his hand as children.

Neill Blomkamp and Max Damon keep the story human.  In scenes where robots deal with everyday police work, keeping the peace, enforcing immigration rules, and in general just keeping the humans in line.  This is another concept that goes back to George Lucas’s “THX1138” and perhaps further.  Damon’s Max tries to keep things lighthearted.  When in line to get the bus to work, he is questioned by the robots he tries to joke with them, but that backfires and ends up with a broken arm for his troubles.  He is sent to probation where the probation officer is a bureaucratic robot.  When he is told for the incident at the bus, his probation is extended, the robot detects Max’s blood pressure rise and offers him a pill.  Max replies in an “Mr.Roboto” voice.  In the world of Elysium, technology and information rules, and those who have it write the rules, and that is the underlying theme of the film.

Elysium ~ Banner 001 | A Constantly Racing Mind

Max, for all his sins, cannot enter Elysium, however, he can open the door for the weak, and abused, like Captain Miller in "Saving Private Ryan," Max just wants piece.  Although there are some elements of the social and political class struggle in this story, I found "Elysium" to be a film about the hopes and dreams of all humanity.  To live in a world where social classes are not so far apart, and humankind, need not be so desperate for basic needs.  "Elysium" is an enjoyable mix between action, environment, and story.


Elysium ~ How To Ask A Girl Out On A Date In The Future
Elysium ~ Heist Trailer
Elysium ~ Two New Featurettes | Special Ops - The Tech of Elysium
Elysium ~ Two New TV Spots | Flight - Promises
Elysium ~ Featurette -01
Elysium ~ A Tale of Two Worlds
Elysium ~ Extended Trailer
Elysium Poster
Elysium Trailer 2013

Movie Data

Genre:  Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2013
Staring: Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, Alice Braga
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Producer(s): Bill Block, Simon Kinberg
Writer: Neill Blomkamp
Rating: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: 8/9/2013