Elysium (2013)

ElysiumReleased: August 9, 2013. Directed by: Neill Blomkamp. Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley. Runtime: 109 min.

In the prologue, it is said that the earth has been ruined by pollution, and only the wealthiest of people could escape. The rich now call Elysium their home, a place where the air is healthy and to be healed of any disease – one just has to lay in a bed, much like a bed seen in most science fiction tales. Jodie Foster portrays the Secretary of Defense in that beautiful place up in the sky.

The main protagonist of the film is Max (Matt Damon). He dreams of going to Elysium, a promise he also made to his childhood sweetheart. That is not Max’s sole motivation to go to Elysium however – after a misshap at work, he becomes desperate and must go to Elysium in order to save his life, and humanity.

Neill Blomkamp jumped on the fame radar with 2009’s Oscar-nominated (unseen by me) “District 9.” He returns with a great science fiction actioner that has a great care for his characters at play. Matt Damon portrays a desperate and likable protagonist. Jodie Foster is a memorable villain, and her motivations are real, as she would do anything to protect her children from members of Earth. She isn’t as memorable, though, as a ruthless, Aussie mercenary known simply as Kruger. (And no, he does not wear a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Christmas sweater, like Freddy Krueger.) Sharlto Copley (“The A Team,” “District 9”) portrays the character well.

This film brings up interesting concepts of the health care system. If you have enough money to live on Elysium, you can essentially live forever, as long as you can get to the healing bed in time. I also thought of, while in this world people can be forced to do things at work, in this world we have rights and we could choose not to do certain things we aren’t comfortable with. Blomkamp’s vision of this earth set in 2154 is fascinating. It also makes this a solid commentary on class struggle. He envisions an Los Angeles that looks like a Third World country; decaying buildings, polluted streets, extreme unemployment rates. It would be interesting to see how Blomkamp sees what an already Third World country would like in 2154. I assume he leaves that up to our imaginations purposefully.

There’s something that lacks in the screenplay, but I can’t exactly put my finger on it. Actually, it might be because it is only 109 minutes, but it feels as if it’s about to pass two hours by the time it finishes. This is a well-done sci-fi about saving humanity. Blomkamp doesn’t shy away from gore, which makes the action pretty freaking awesome. It’s imaginative, violent, action-packed, and it’s one of the most beautifully shot films of 2013.

Score: 80/100

August 9-11 Box Office Results

“Elysium” had the strongest debut so far this month, and it will probably have the highest debut throughout August. However, its $29.8 million debut is a little disappointing; considering “District 9” had a $37.3 million debut back in August 2009 with no star power. It was the best release of the weekend critically, with a 65% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it only had a ‘B’ Cinemascore, so that’s also a little disappointing.

“We’re the Millers” had a surprisingly good debut in second place with $26.4 million. It received an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, and it should hold well throughout its run – with no pure comedies coming out until August 23rd’s “The World’s End.”

“Planes” received an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore on a $22.2 million debut. It was enough to earn it third place, but not enough for me to see it. There’s already a sequel on its way, so that kind-of sucks. “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” had a middling $14.4 million, but it earned $23.25 million in its first five days.

With four releases coming out this weekend, it seems as if “We’re the Millers” will have the best holdover. Here’s how the Top 10 performed:

Title: Prediction/Result/Difference

1. Elysium: $38.4m/$29.807m/$8.593m over
2. We’re the Millers (5-day): $28.6m/$37.908m/$9.308m over
3. Planes: $20.25m/$22.232m/$1.982 over
4. Percy Jackson 2 (5-day): $26.9m/$23.258/$3.642m over
5. 2 Guns: $15.15m/$11.249m/$3.901m over
6. The Smurfs: $9.32m/$9, 328, 495/$8,495 under
7. The Wolverine: $12.11m/$8.024m/$4.086m over
8. The Conjuring: $8.08m/$6.627m/$1.453m over
9. Despicable Me 2: $6.7m/$5.915m/$785, 000 over
10. Grown Ups 2: $5.15m/$3.645m/$1.505m over

For the four (4) new releases, I was off by $23.525 million.
For the six (6) holdovers, I was off by $11, 738, 495.

August 9-11 Box Office Predictions

Third most-anticipated: "Elysium"“Elysium” looks great, and it looks like it could be the best sci-fi of the year yet. Okay, I’ll try to keep my expectations lower than that, because it’s been quite a year for sci-fi. Neill Blomkamp’s first movie “District 9” impressed, especially with its $37.35 million opening. This has been eagerly anticipated, with its star power (Matt Damon, Jodie Foster) and an intriguing story. Thanks to the buzz, I think this will gross more (just by a bit) than “District 9.” And if it doesn’t, it might as well be guaranteed that it grosses closer to “Oblivion” ($37.05m) than “After Earth” ($27.52m). I’m doubt this will be anything less than high 30’s. My prediction is $38.4 million.

We're the Millers“We’re the Millers” looks funny. It looks like an amusing road trip comedy, where the character Sudeikis plays has to bring a huge shipment of marijuana across the Mexican border back to the U.S., and he hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway (Emma Roberts) and a virgin (Will Poulter) to act as his family. The marketing campaign for this has been light, but I’ve been intrigued by it ever since I saw the red band trailer before “The Hangover Part III.” I like the premise. I don’t think this will gross more than “Identity Thief’s” three-day $34.55 million total, in its five days. Movies similar to this gross $19.19 million. Since the marketing has been light, I think this will manage a $28.6 million five-day, and a $21.6 million three-day.

PlanesI don’t like the fact that “Planes” exists. It should have just taken the straight-to-video route.”Cars” was a hard enough sell on me (I still have yet to see it), so there’s no way I’ll be seeing this one. Movies similar to “Planes” open to an average $34.82 million. I guess this is part of an established brand, but it’s just an ole spin-off, “above the world of Cars”. I think this will do better than “The Smurfs 2,” even if the market is really busy for family-friendly fare; because “The Smurfs 2” was already hated by adults before it even came to theatres, and families might give this one more of a fair chance. However, since families have already spent so much money this summer, I’m going to go low and say $20 million.

Percy Jackson 2The “Percy Jackson” franchise seems destined for mediocrity. (I watched the first one, so I’ll post my review soon.) The first scored a worldwide gross of $226 million on a $95 million budget. Though, I doubt “Sea of Monsters” will gross more in its debuting five-day frame than the first one did in its first three days (a $31.236 million tally). And that wasn’t up against much direct competition: “Avatar” ($23.61m) in its ninth week, “Dear John” ($16m) in its second week, the R-rated horror “The Wolfman” ($31.47m) in its first weekend, and the lame rom-com “Valentine’s Day” ($56.26m) in its first weekend. This movie is going up against an already competitive family-friendly market: “Turbo,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Despicable Me 2,” “The Smurfs 2,” and fellow newcomer, “Planes.” Films similar to this open at an average $47.12 million. I think this will gross $26.9 million in its five-day, and I’ll say $19m for the three-day frame.

As for the holdovers, it’ll be interesting to see how the two new family-friendly films affects the already disappointing performance by “The Smurfs 2.” I think the two new releases will be the nail in “Turbo’s” coffin. I also wonder how “We’re the Millers” will affect the performance of “Grown Ups 2″… I guess we’ll see by the end of the weekend. This seems like it’ll be a much busier weekend than last.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:

1. “Elysium”: $38.4m
2. “We’re the Millers”: $21.6m (Five-day: $28.6m)
3. “Planes”: $20.25m
4. “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”: $19m (Five-day: $26.9m)
5. “2 Guns”: $15.15m
6. “The Wolverine”: $12.11m
7. “The Smurfs 2”: $9.32m
8. “The Conjuring”: $8.08m
9. “Despicable Me 2“: $6.7m
10. “Grown Ups 2“: $5.15m

Recap of July, Most Anticipated of August

Overall, at least based on the movies I saw, July was mostly an okay month for movies. But then again, I only saw five (out of 15 of the) major theatrical releases. And out of those five I saw, I only enjoyed two. “Despicable Me 2” was the strongest of the ones I saw. “Pacific Rim” was the second best. “R.I.P.D.” was right in the middle with a score of 50. “The Lone Ranger” didn’t get a passing score because it was dull; and “Grown Ups 2” was torture. The average score for the five movies was 54.8, but take away “GU2,” the adjusted score is 65.5.

Most anticipated of August

Fifth most-anticipated movie of August: "The Spectacular Now"

There are a few releases coming out this month that I highly doubt I’ll be seeing. One of them is “Planes,” because “Cars” was a hard enough sell on me, and that’s Pixar. This is just a lame spin-off. I won’t be seeing “This is Us” because I’m not fond of One Direction. I don’t think I’ll be seeing “The Smurfs 2” because I really didn’t like the first one. I liked the first “Percy Jackson” enough to give it a pass (I’ll post my review early this week), but I don’t think I’ll be itching to watch the sequel that comes out this Wednesday. But, if I’ve seen everything and it’s at my cheap theatre, I might watch it.

Fourth most-anticipated: "You're Next"
“You’re Next”

I’ll be watching “jOBS,” but I’m not extremely excited for it. I like a good bio pic, but my expectations aren’t high. Hopefully Ashton Kutcher impresses. The horror movie called “Random” could be okay, but Ashley Greene hasn’t impressed regarding the horror genre so far.

Paranoia” looks decent because of the cast, mostly, and I’d like to see more corporate thrillers. “Closed Circuit” looks like a good thriller, as well. “We’re the Millers” could be very funny. I missed “2 Guns” this weekend, and since it looks like fun, I’ll check it out next weekend. “Getaway” looks like a good thriller, like “Closed Circuit.” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” looks as if it could be a good movie, and I enjoyed the book. (Though, I always envisioned Alex Pettyfer as Jace while reading, not Jamie Campbell Bower.)

Third most-anticipated: "Elysium"

The Butler” looks like a great bio pic, and civil rights movies can be interesting. “Prince Avalanche” looks like my kind-of oddball humour. I’m mostly excited for “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” because of its cast.

My fifth most anticipated movie of August is “The Spectacular Now” because I love the look of it and Shailene Woodley. My fourth most anticipated is “You’re Next” because I like a good home invasion flick, and I’m hoping for a great home invasion flick to make me forget about “The Purge.”

The World's EndMy third most anticipated is “Elysium“. I haven’t seen “District 9” yet (I might check it out if I like this one a lot), but the story of this one seems really cool. Jodie Foster’s awesome. “The World’s End” is my second most anticipated because I love “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” and it seems like a great finish to the trilogy. The team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is comedy magic. “Kick-Ass 2” is my most anticipated movie of August (and one of my most anticipated of the year) because I LOVE the first one, and this one looks like a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see Jim Carrey be downright hilarious again. (“Hahaha, yeah, there’s a dog on your balls!”)

What are you excited for this month? Let me know in the comments!

Kick-Ass 2