“Elysium” — Yes!

Having just finished reading a piece in the July 2013 Vanity Fair, which makes all sorts of preposterous claims about Channing Tatum and calls Magic Mike “the definitive Channing Tatum film” and “a great movie,” (Dear blog readers:  Magic Mike is vastly entertaining, and it’s smartly directed, but calling it “a great movie,” thereby grouping it with the likes of Notorious or Vertigo or The Godfather and so forth, is so, so outré!), and goes on to describe White House Down as “a good movie, a monster that could cement him in the public mind the way Raiders of the Lost Ark cemented Harrison Ford,” self would just like to say that there is indeed a summer of 2013 action star who delivers, and it’s Matt Damon.

Ever since last year’s Bourne movie, the one introducing Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross (aka “the new Bourne”), self has realized that nothing can equal the greatness of what Matt Damon did with the character of Jason Bourne.  Matt was the unlikeliest action hero, because there is really nothing special about his physical appearance (if you look at him with his shirt on).  Self loved Renner in The Hurt Locker, but watching him put in the on-screen time with Rachel Weisz was frankly painful, and she longed for Matt’s return to action hero mode.

Well, after all those summers of delayed gratification, self has finally watched a Matt Damon action movie.  And it’s really very ironic, because the movie that she saw today was a movie that she claimed she didn’t really feel like seeing:  Elysium.

She saw previews and wasn’t enamored of the plot.  Also, the shantytowns reminded her too much of District 9, and therefore signaled a recycling of imagination that did not bode well.  But The Man came home after watching it and said he liked it.  And then son came home and said that he, too, liked it.  And then self saw the first screening today at the Redwood City Century 20 and realized that she, too, liked it.  A lot.

Let’s see, how would she describe Elysium?  It’s the spawn of Mad Max crossed with District 9, with hefty doses of Johnny Mnemonic and even the Bourne movies.

Self will here repeat an observation that she made after watching District 9:  Neill Blomkamp really knows how to make us feel his characters’ pain.  Self means:  their physical pain, which is just a metaphor for the inner pain.

When Matt gets outfitted with all those fancy thingamajig metal parts, Blomkamp makes sure we know the cost:  the back of his T-shirt is smudged red where the metal has been driven into Matt’s back.  So that every time Matt Damon landed on his back during an action sequence, self actually winced.  Because she imagined the screws pressing further into his bloody back.


And when the meanest Bad Guy gets blown up by a well-thrown hand grenade, it’s not enough that we know he is blown to smithereens, we actually get to see a human being with only half a face.  Later, we get to see this half-face reconstructed in agonizing close-up.  Egad!  It was all self could do not to up-chuck last night’s dinner.

And BTW, the meanest Bad Guy is twice as terrifying because he has such a strong (South African?) accent.  Believe you me, dear blog readers, when you have a villain who speaks in an arch-prissy British accent, or an arch-Matthew McConaughey Texan accent, it is nothing compared to having a villain speak in an (almost) unidentifiable accent.  Later, self deduced it must be either an Afrikaner accent, or an Australian accent.  No, she thinks South African.  Whatever.  THAT VILLAIN WAS TREMENDOUS!  So glad they didn’t use Alan Rickman or Michael Fassbender.

She was so amused that the head of the “resistance” is named Spider but has a somewhat chubby face, mad black curls (like Shirley Temple’s, only black, and oilier) and a sort of chunky physique.  In other words, you hear the name Spider and when you finally meet the man who goes by that moniker, you are completely blown away by the almost total disconnect between the name and the person.

Finally, it was extremely canny to cast Diego Luna as Expendable Good Guy.  Because self so loved his face, and was truly enraged by the fact that he got off-ed — with no less than a samurai sword.  When he dies, his gaze is locked on Matt, and the whole scene was pure Shakespearean tragedy.  Self is NOT kidding!

So, here’s what she thinks of Matt:  HE IS SO KICK-ASS!

Channing Tatum has nothing — nuhthin‘ ! — on Matt!

Finally, let’s turn our attention to the fabled Do-Nut in the Sky called Elysium.  Apparently, it’s the Atherton of all Earthly Real Estate.  And those lucky few who reside there can have all their hearts desire.  And choose any mode of dress.  But they all still want to congregate around a pool wearing khakis or bermuda shorts, top-siders, and tailored shirts.  Self believes the movie takes place in 2054.  So it must be an attempt to go retro.  And though the sky’s the limit (so to speak), the dream homes are all Miami South Beach style.  Go figure!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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