Elysium: everything that sucks about movies these days


I was going to be all nice and eloquent about this, but why? The guy who wrote this is obviously some kind of an asshole or has a serious chip on his shoulder. How can you be so pretentious? I mean seriously it’s almost as if this was a satirical piece, sort of a reply to the recent furor around Lone Ranger execs, director and actors complaining critics ruined their movie.

Blomkamp puts it perfectly - this is him doing “big-scale cinema and archetypal storytelling”, not indie, low cost DIY fimmaking. He showed he can do that brilliantly, now he’s flexing his muscles on a different level and seems to be doing just fine - hurray. He’s a success story this prick should get psyched about not moan he’s not making the next indie-hit.

Those are the two major things wrong with this “review” - people move on to other, hopefully bigger projects or at least different ones - and everybody likes different kind of films. Personally, I watch indie-movies, local shot on DSLR stuff and huge blockbusters all in one week and enjoy them all for various reasons. And they can all co-exist.

Finally - give me a break with your Bechdel test. As mentioned before this is the new ‘thing’ to fail a movie on JUST like media violence was in the past. There are some great films (and TV!) out there with brilliant female characters and violence depictions have been around since we painted shit on cave walls - which is where this troll belongs.


Yes! thank you!, While reading this editorial/review I wasn’t able to point out why it rang false to me.
I mean, sure, he hated the movie, that’s fair, but I didn’t get many reasons besides “there’s a lot of cliche’s”, one paragraph could have informed me of that.

I guess its a sort of persuasive opinion piece where I would have liked to know more of the reasoning behind that opinion in order to form my own.


Alert: “movie violence is a spreading disease on culture” quote spotted. Author identified as curmudgeon old fart, initiating purge of entire essay from memory.


I have not seen Elysium or Pacific Rim yet, but what I have read from reviewers I respect is that while they are big budget action movies, they are smarter and more original than most other movies in that sphere such as Transformers.

Yikes… If you’re going to use the Transformers movies as your benchmark, then, yeah, lots of things are going to pass it.

I like action movies myself. I found things to like in Pacific Rim, and don’t regret having seen it. But I was also disappointed by it. Knowing what the movie is, you basically know the plot. Movies have become incredibly formulaic (and there was a post on Boing Boing, I believe it was, a week or two pointing out that, yes, formulaic isn’t just a description of how they turn out, but a description of the explicit process-- there’s a book where somebody wrote out the foruma in great detail).

Just because some tripe is worse than other tripe doesn’t mean that it’s not all tripe. And, just becasue the big blockbusterm ovies still have some value in them as spectacle doesn’t mean that they’re a lot less than they could have been, and that they haven’t become boringly formulaic in their plotting.


I don’t get much from big budget movies these days. I probably get more concentrated fun from an episode of Adventure Time than I did from The Avengers, say. And I’d argue that they’re both in the same intellectual ball park. It’s not like I’m enjoying one ironically, at best I’m enjoying them both ironically.

But isn’t it a bit much to expect more than that from the mainstream blockbuster cinema? Once you’ve seen a few thousand movies, it’s naive to expect anything more than iteration.


Most BB readers probably will, too. If you go through the backlog of BoingBoing submissions, you’ll find almost excessive praise for Blomkamp’s talent on District 9 and the short film that gave birth to it, Alive in Joburg.

We ought to keep in mind that BoingBoing is a collection of people who other people find interesting, and all have different opinions. I read the review and thought it read like Andy Rooney mixed with some Reagan-era hand-wringing about violence in culture. Whatever, I probably won’t see this movie until it’s either on Netflix or Blockbuster. That’s not a slam; I just don’t go see many movies in theaters. I waited until District 9 was out of theaters before I saw it, and loved it despite it not being terribly creative.

I kinda wonder what the author would have to say about Cory Doctorow’s fiction. As fascinating as I find his interests to be, I really haven’t read anything by Cory that really strikes a nerve, (sorry, Cory.) I don’t hold anything against Cory for that, of course; obviously his fans disagree with me and that’s okay. I guess I just don’t “get” his fiction.

I can only imagine how confusing BoingBoing would be if people thought it had a consistent, single editorial vision, because:

  • BoingBoing hates misogyny, but loves Die Antwoord.
  • Hates anything that disrespects women but devotes a lot of space to hiphop.
  • Both loves and hates Neil Blomkamp.
  • Has, in the past, been all for liberating women worldwide, but has defended burkas.
  • Hates representation of women in comics, but defends to the death a woman’s right to be respected while dressed as one.

The list could go on, but to me that’s what makes this website interesting. It makes you think, even if you end up thinking, “Man, what a load.” Sure, it can come across as a bunch of handwringing by entitled white people, but what of it? I get to learn about a lot of things that are outside my sphere of existence.

I’m waiting for the day when a movie about gay men will have to defend itself for not passing the Bechdel test.

Hip Hop on BB: sidebar to a remark in the Elysium thread

As long as the lead character shouts “let’s do this” at least once in a movie then I feel as if I got my money’s worth.


A dying Earth left to society’s remnants not a reboot? Sometime you should check out Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, I think you’ll enjoy it.


The thing about Pacific Rim was that yes, it was formulaic and predictable (and far more so than its obvious main influence, Neon Genesis Evangelion, where the basis of Pacific Rim’s plot and robot functionality was lifted from).

But as much “meh” as is getting poured on it here, Pacific Rim is an enormous hit… in certain circles… and I don’t think it matters that more general audiences lump it in with generic blockbuster tripe. I thought it was the best of its type possibly ever, because I am square in its target audience - not a comic book fan but a fan of Godzilla movies and anime etc. - silly as those things often are. It’s the only time Hollywood has done something in that vein and got it not just right, but as good or better than the source material.

Anyway in context of this discussion, the reason Pacific Rim works is because while it’s formulaic and predictable, it isn’t boringly strung together. There are interesting, fresh characters (for Hollywood), played very well. The action scenes are truly imaginative and new (again… for Hollywood) and it’s just a lot of fun. That’s what blockbusters were always supposed to be… not necessarily great art, but good filmmaking and lots of fun (think classic Spielberg as the ultimate examples). Blockbusters are now wholly forgettable and usually not even any fun in the moment!

Pacific Rim did it right… and unfortunately I won’t be surprised if there’s some truth to this weird anti-Elysium rant, but from the trailers it does look like it’s certainly far better than the usual blockbusters of recent years.

Will Pacific Rim and Elysium (if it’s actually any good) prove to studio execs that people want a little more out of their blockbusters? Joss Whedon’s Avengers already proved that (to some extent) so I think we’ll see more and more risk put into these big-budget movies in coming years… along with plenty of tripe, as usual… which is great. Part of that though is that not every movie will please everyone - which is why I don’t care that not everyone loved Pacific Rim as much as I did. Not everybody should love everything good. Again, the jury’s still out for Elysium, but I’m going to give it a chance.


I’m not surprised Elysium is very violent. District 9 was very good (if flawed) but it was far more violent than it had to be – and this comes from someone who likes action movies.



(this space only filled out to be more descriptive per the small pop-up’s request).


I’d just like to jump in and say how much I love the idea that advertisers and marketers pay us to say terrible things about their movies.


a ‘The Producers’ style scam?

The most enthusiastic person I’ve come across regarding Pacific Rim is William Gibson. His twitter feed is still full of stuff about it, weeks after he saw it.

Elysium, I wouldn’t mind seeing, but I simply don’t have the time/opportunity these days. It looks better than After Earth and Oblivion, but not by much. Pacific Rim was the first film I saw at the cinema since The Hobbit.


I saw Pacific Rim. I will probably not see Elysium. Pacific Rim was exactly what you expect from the “Summer Blockbuster” genre, and done well. There’re no surprises - you know from the first screen moments exactly how everything will fall out. There’s a whole lot of gearporn. The CG is among the best I’ve seen. And yet, for all this, the movie does seem to have more heart than your average Bay explosion-fest. It was earnest about its subject, it was almost reverent in its tips o’ the hat to the genre, and it didn’t snark.
Could it have used some additional intellectual depth? Hell yeah, but then it woudn’t have been the same kind of movie. It wasn’t pretending to have depth, just to be a fun ride.
I think it may well be the last of the Great Hollywood Summer Tentpole Action Movies.


bummer, i was hoping for another movie along the lines of district 9, even if it had been the same story as district 9 with different characters i would have been happy :frowning:


Thanks for the review. I kind of expected the movie would be more of the same. I’m sad there have been almost no good action movies in decades. Aliens 2 is a good movie in my opinion. So is Terminator 2. The Matrix has its holes but at least it left an impression. What’s really stuck out since then?

Certainly this year’s movies have been mostly forgettable. I saw Star Trek, I remember almost nothing about it except it had too much action, not enough story. Same with Man of Steel. Totally forgettable. I enjoyed Pacific Rim even if I don’t consider it good. It’s also mostly forgettable but robots punching monsters carried it a little.

That’s partly what I don’t get though. Really good action movies continue to make money for years and years. Crappy ones don’t do they? So it would seems like they should at least try to make the next T2 instead of the next Transformers.

I also don’t get why it’s so hard to write better. I’m not asking for great writing, just someone to go over the plot holes or the obviously bad ideas and fix them with something better. Example of the day, “Olympus has Fallen” (spoiler alert!) which I watched on a long plane flight. I wanted to like it. I went into it just hoping it wouldn’t totally suck. But, I didn’t buy for a moment we’d pull out of South Korea to save the President. I didn’t believe for a moment any of the people in charge would give up their launch codes. It was like some video game writer wrote this shit. How hard would it have to been to figure something out that didn’t require it to be absolutely unbelievable?




Get it straight – a movie can still be a great movie and not pass that test. It’s just not AS great a movie because it doesn’t. The Bechdel test is just one of many measures of any movie’s deployment of objectionable vs. laudable character types and situations.


For me, it’s if they announce, “I’m going in!”

Or if someone is warned, “GET OUT OF THERE!!!”


Ciminey. Reading this is like reading a review of, I dunno, The Godfather, and complaining that it didn’t deliver any fully belly laffs, or reading a review of a Pixar movie and hearing that it doesn’t deliver really good scares. Or hearing about the guy in crutches who failed to win the footrace.

A movie about explosions and outer space and a head-shaven Matt Damon doesn’t deliver surprising sotrytelling and oh-so-relatable characters? What did you EXPECT, man? Must all films aspire to this unattainable ideal of nonsensical innovation and assumption-challenging or can a thing just be kind of fun and kind of interesting and still be worthwhile?

It’s gotta be awful hard to go through life being so very disappointed that everyone isn’t always acting as intelligent as you assume they should be.


It’s the whole hero-concept that’s put me off most movies. Always about a hero, and always about revenge. Even one of Disney’s fundamental concepts is revenge, often by proxy.