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Rarely have I found myself driven to such a state of fury by Hollywood as I was this time around - that the crash came on the back of finding - to my consternation - two enjoyable films just made it worse and the impact all the more shocking.
I watched 'Jobs' on the way out, which was interesting. Ashton Kutcher does an impressive Young Jobs and somehow manages to make the transition to Ill Jobs believable. There are just a couple of 'Look, see I can do Steve Jobs' trademark silly walk' scenes too many - okay, you can do the walk. We get it. I've always had the feeling that Jobs was an obsessive egomaniac with a sizeable Jobs fixation and the film certainly reflects that side of the man's nature whilst doing a neat balancing act that avoids alienating the many million iZombies out there who would all too readily cry foul if their icon and obsession were handled too roughly. But generally the film's an engaging and entertaining portrait of Our Steve from his college dropout days through to the internal reveal of the iPod - the film's opening scene.
On the way back I watched 'Rush' which I enjoyed thoroughly. The film tells the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauder's rivalry and for some reason reminded me strongly of Frost vs Nixon (I found out just now this wasn't coincidental - both films were directed by a bloke called Ron Howard). It really is a period piece, all sideburns and flared collars, both title role actors do a fabulous job of portraying their characters and this is by no means a film you have to be a petrol-head to enjoy. It's truly great stuff, gripping and intense, stylish and rarely less than dramatic.
And then I decided to watch Matt Damon in Elysium. Don't ask me why, looking back on it I can't fathom what on earth I thought I was doing. But I did it. And, perhaps more worryingly, I stuck with it rather than being a sensible boy and finishing the Top Gear Marathon I had started on the outbound flight.
It's possibly the worst film I have ever watched. It actually made me angry that someone, somewhere not only picked up the script but made the awful thing. I'm still fuming.
Everyone on earth is poor and sick and we've broken the planet. The rich elite have escaped to an paradisaical toroidal orbital called Elysium where everyone has garden parties and every house has a machine that fixes all known illness. Some of the Elysium people come back to earth in order to run companies that make profits by exploiting the labour of the ill earth people. Some of the earth people try to get up to Elysium but their space jalopies are blown up by secret agents on earth working for Elysium, in particular a nasty South African called (I can't remember) who has lots of wizzbangs and guns and things.
Matt Damon plays (I can't remember), a former criminal gone straight. Everyone except Matt Damon is Hispanic. He works in a factory doing something a great deal more interesting and diverse than most factory workers. We never get to find out quite what, but it involves screwing things and assembling what look like droids. Matt gets fried in a radiation oven when he tries to unblock the door and is sacked. Quite why you would want to bathe droid carcases in a radiation oven is never really resolved. It is explained to him he has received a massive dose of radiation and has suffered massive organ failure and will die massively in five days. This makes him puke up. Massively. Having just had winter vomiting bug, I find myself in sympathy with Matt, although couldn't help questioning quite how extensive organ failure and imminently terminal radiation poisoning makes you puke up but leaves you still able to stagger around.
Matt goes to see (I can't remember), the local hood to offer his services in return for a black market ticket to Elysium where they can cure his terminal illness. The hood laughs at this. What could Matt Damon possibly offer him that would make it worth a ticket on a shuttle to Elysium? Oh hang on, he just thought of something! Phew!
Matt is now too sick to walk and so is fitted with a mechanical exo-skeleton by some black market surgeons who are surprised to find him alive the next morning after they have screwed the whole thing into his bones. Alive he might be, but he's a mess. Strangely, at no point in the film do we get the impression that Matt is a dying man propped up by an exo-skeleton, he's far too dynamic and just damn heroic for all that. He does, however, mop his brow and stagger occasionally - to signify existentially threatening illness, we presume.
This provides possibly the only interesting aspect to this film - the brand collision between Matt Damon and his role. He's supposed to play a man dying of acute radiation poisoning, but he's Matt Damon, man of action! How can he possibly play a man weakened by illness? Simple! Be Matt Damon with an exo-skeleton!
Matt and a gang of hoods set out on a heist to capture the mind-state of a top Elysium official who has come to earth to run a factory. This is his price onto a shuttle, it seems. Oh, lookie! It's the same official who ran Matt's factory where he got sick. Luckily, Elysium Man (I don't remember his name) is involved in a plot to launch a coup in Elysium hatched by the wicked Minister for Defence, who is a nasty lady in a natty suit. So when Matt downloads the chap's mind state, he receives the code to reboot Elysium's servers.
For some reason, Elysium's server farm requires green screen pages of code overlaid with a knifey-looking graphical logo thing that says 'DANGER THIS IS THE SERVER REBOOT CODE WE DON'T WANT YOU TO HAVE' or something like that. I can't quite remember. While we're on the subject, writing a reference to 'the cloud' in the script doesn't make your film sound technical and futuristic, it makes you sound stupid. And if we ever (and I doubt this very much) evolve to the stage where we can build toroidal earth orbiting paradises, I don't think we'll still be using server farms, let alone keyboard based computers. Do please feel free to laugh at me from your toroidal earth orbiting paradise when you are searching the earth archives on your laptop PC in a few hundred years' time and find this.
This code is now in Matt's head, so the South African bloke wants to capture him. There's a hot looking Hispanic doctor chick Matt knew as a child and she has a daughter with terminal leukemia who also wants to go to Elysium. The kid is cute. Who'd have known?
The South African baddie captures the hot Hispanic chick, whose name I don't remember, and her cute kid. He also captures Matt and takes them all to Elysium. The hood and his henchmen also go to Elysium because they've figured if Matt has the code to reboot Elysium's servers in his head then they have a chance of resetting the place and making it accept all humanity as members of the The Elysium Club. This will cure everyone, heal earth and make everything right again, apparently.
There are a lot of fights. The hood uses his laptop computer to break all the door locks. Matt kills the South African guy. The kid gets to an Elysium machine and is cured. Matt is plugged into the servers and they reboot. He dies. All of humanity is accepted into Elysium. Yay.
It's the biggest pile of wombat doo I have ever seen in my life. The write-up in the ICE brochure thingy said it touched on important issues, but if there are important issues in here I certainly didn't find them. Unless you're talking about the blindingly obvious and egregiously simplified haves and have-nots thing going down amongst the witless action and lamentable, drooling dialogue.
I had to watch three hours of Top Gear to calm down. I'm still not right, even now. Look on the bright side - I've taken a 109 minute one for the team so you don't have to.