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'Elysium': Is It As Good As 'District 9'? (And 24 Other Urgent Questions)

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ELYSIUM REVIEW
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Elysium, director Neill Blomkamp's first film since 2009's surprise hit District 9, is out in theaters this weekend. Elysium stars Matt Damon (The Rainmaker) as a man who desperately wants to be on a utopian space station that is called Elysium, which is also the title of the movie. Will Elysium live up to the expectations set by District 9? As a service, we answer every question that you could possibly have about Elysium.

Q: Are there any songs by Elysium in Elysium? I do like the song "Oh L'amour."

A: You're thinking of the synthpop group Erasure. Elysium is a new science fiction movie.

Q: What kind of science-fiction movie is Elysium?

A: It's a science-fiction movie with dystopian themes that draw heavily from the Mad Max movies, only this movie stars Matt Damon.

Q: So Matt Damon plays Mad Max?

A: No, no. Matt Damon's character is far more docile than Max Rockatansky. So, even though there are similar themes, there should be no confusion between the two stories.

Q: What is the name of the character that Matt Damon plays?

A: Max.

Q: What year does Elysium take place?

A: 2154.

Q: What is an Elysium?

A: Elysium is a giant space station where life is perfect and disease has been eradicated.

Q: What is Earth like in 2154?

A: Earth is livable, but not exactly what anyone would call ideal living conditions. Also, it looks very, very hot.

Q: Matt Damon is a big movie star, so he gets to live on Elysium, right?

A: Again, Elysium takes place in 2154, so, probably not. But, Matt Damon's descendents are most likely living there. As for Matt Damon's character, Max, no, he does not live on Elysium.

Q: How is someone chosen to live on Elysium?

A: It appears that a person would have to have a lot of money. Characters often reference purchasing a ticket to Elysium and it's assumed that a ticket is very expensive.

Q: Do we get a sense of what a normal day living on Elysium is like?

A: Not really, but the short glimpses we do get make it look like one big party at the Hamptons, which makes me hope that there is a third option for people who don't like "dystopian desert wastelands" or Hamptons parties. (Though not mentioned in the film, I like to think there's also a satellite called Purgatorium, or something, that at least has working Wi-Fi.)

Q: So, does it break down to the fact that if you have money, you live on Elysium and if you don't you live on Earth?

A: Based on the information that we're given in the film, yes. But, I'm sure there are some wealthy circa-2154 hipsters somewhere on Earth trying to gentrify the neighborhood.

Q: What does Max do for a living?

A: Max is a laborer of some kind. Which, considering Max's past as a convicted criminal, is portrayed as kind of a success story.

Q: So why does Max want to get to Elysium?

A: Max suffers an accident at work that exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation and is given only five days to live. His only chance of survival is to reach Elysium because there is a cure there.

Q: If someone doesn't have the money to buy a ticket to Elysium, how does someone get to Elysium?

A: There are illegal ways to get there, which usually involves flying a spaceship toward Elysium and hoping that the spaceship doesn't get shot down. If the spaceship does make it, the illegals are usually deported within a few minutes.

Q: Why does anyone want to go there if they just get deported immediately?

A: The hope is to have just enough time to use the "cure everything machine," which seems to be as prevalent in an Elysium resident's home as a toaster would be in ours.

Q: Does Elysium use a hammer or a baseball bat to beat you over the head with modern day symbolism concerning health care and immigration?

A: A hammer. Probably a smaller one. Maybe a ball-peen hammer.

Q: Does Max have to use this illegal route?

A: Yes, but his route is a little more complicated. He's also fitted with this strange exoskeleton contraption that (A) helps him stand because of his radiation disease and (B) helps him fight the police robots.

Q: Is Elysium as good as Neill Blomkamp's first film, District 9?

A: No.

Q: What is the biggest problem with Elysium?

A: Like most movies this summer, Elysium suffers from an overabundance of dumb and overcomplicated plot points. To be fair, Elysium is the least dumb of the dumb summer movies. But, considering how Blomkamp avoided this in District 9, it's surprising and disappointing.

Q: If you're going to be blurbed in this weekend's commercials for Elysium, what do you hope your quote would be?

A: "Elysium is the least dumb of the dumb summer movies!" -- Mike Ryan, The Huffington Post

Q: What's an example of an overcomplicated plot point?

A: As we know, Max needs to get to Elysium. Along the way he plans to kidnap the owner of the factory in which he used to work, John Carlyle (played by William Fichtner). It just so happens on this particular day John Carlyle had embedded covert information about Elysium that he plans to bring to the Secretary of Defense (Jodie Foster) -- information that Max accidentally steals from John Carlyle. (It gets even more complicated because there's a strange fail-safe installed with this information that I honestly can't figure out, and if I tried to explain it would spoil important parts of the movie.)

Q: Please tell me there's not a brave little boy traveling along with Max in Elysium?

A: Well, there is a brave little girl, but it's not as bad as it sounds.

Q: What's the best part about Elysium?

A: Matt Damon is solid as Max. Above all, it's one of the first movies of the CGI era in which I didn't feel like I was watching CGI. There are robots in this movie that look like real robots. Actually, I have no reason to believe that they are not real robots. Elysium is worth seeing for the effects alone.

Q: Who is the most disappointing character in Elysium?

A: Jodie Foster's Secretary of Defense Delacourt, for at least 50 reasons.

Q: Who is the oddest character in Elysium?

A: Sharlto Copley's Agent Kruger, who seems like he's in a completely different movie than Elysium. Now, I should add, the other movie that Kruger is in looks terrific, but he's definitely not in the same Elysium movie that everyone else is in.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

This story appears in Issue 61 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, August 9.

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