Director Blomkamp Follows Up 'Ditrict 9' With 'Elysium'

The film District 9 was one of the surprise hits of 2009 because it was a rare action movie that addressed issues in a smart way. Now its writer-director, Neill Blomkamp, is back with Elysium. A car thief must get to the healing machines on space station Elysium if he wants to live.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The film "District 9" was one of the surprise hits of 2009. It was a rare action movie that addressed serious issues in a smart way, inspired by apartheid-era events in South Africa. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp is now back with "Elysium." L.A. Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Elysium," like "District 9," tries to graft socio-political concerns onto science fiction, but the combination of genre and ideas is not as adroitly done this time around. The year is 2154, and Earth is covered with blighted, devastated slums filled with poor people. Anyone of any wealth and status now lives on Elysium, an elaborate space station where the air is pure and healing machines are everywhere. Think of a flesh-and-blood version of Disney's "Wall-E," and you'll get the general idea. Max, played by a bulked-up, shaved head, tattooed Matt Damon, is trying to make the best of things in the hell that is Earth. Max is a former car thief who has to deal with a humorless droid parole officer.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ELYSIUM")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) Elevation in heart rate detected. Would you like a pill?

MATT DAMON: (as Max) No, thank you. What I'd like to do is explain...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Stop talking. Personality matrix suggests a 78.3 percent chance of regression to old behavior patterns: grand theft auto, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest. Would you like to talk to a human?

DAMON: No, I am okay. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you being sarcastic and/or abusive?

DAMON: Negative.

TURAN: Once Max gets to work, things get worse. He ends up with a lethal dose of radiation that will kill him in five days. His only hope of survival is to somehow get to Elysium and make use of the place's miraculous healing machines.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ELYSIUM")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Let's go, guys. Load up the cars.

TURAN: Max and the film's bad guys face off, as they inevitably must. Once explosions begin...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

TURAN: ...issues like illegal immigration and universal access to health care fade into insignificance.

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION, and also for the Los Angeles Times.

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