Commentary

August 23, 2013

Fly Over: ‘Elysium’, and ‘Jobs’

Elysium-movie-poster

‘Elysium’

I’ve always been a big fan of movies with an underlying theme of a great divide between social classes where the poor tend to stay deprived while the rich enjoy a life of extravagance. And for me, the movie “Elysium” was just that.
The movie takes place both on a barren Earth and on a space station called Elysium, built by Armadyne Corporation in the year 2154. On Earth life is hard, with people dying of disease and fighting to make ends meet, while life on Elysium is filled with luxury and free from disease, sickness or war.
“Elysium” begins with Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) as a child looking up at the sky to the space station. He wonders why he was destined to live on Earth and makes a promise to his childhood sweetheart Frey (Alice Braga) that one day he will take her to Elysium.
Fast forward to the year 2154 where Costa is an excon living in a devastated Los Angeles. He ends up getting back in touch with Frey and discovers that although she is single, she has a daughter, Matilda, who is dying of leukemia.
For those who are sick, their last hope is a man named Spider (Wagner Moura) who helps transport people to Elysium for a variety of reasons, the biggest being medical care. Unfortunately, many do not make it to Elysium and are often obliterated by the orders of Elysium’s secretary of defense, Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who hires a mercenary named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to do the killing. When Earth citizens do reach Elysium, the objective is to get healed before being deported back to Earth. To do this, Spider provides the sick with fake identification in order to use the Med-Pods located in each house in Elysium. Once in the Med-Pod, they are scanned and healed in a matter of seconds.
Surprisingly, President Patel (Faran Tahir) does not agree with Delacourt’s process of dealing with illegal immigrants and orders Delacourt to dismiss Kruger from duty and warns her that future casualties can lead to her discharge. In response, Delacourt devises a plan and persuades the CEO of Armadyne Corporation, John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to write a code to override Elysium’s system in order to make her president in exchange for renewing Armadyne’s defense contracts for another 200 years. Carlyle agrees and after writing the code, stores it in his brain to keep it safe.
Meanwhile, Costa becomes exposed to fatal levels of radiation at one of Armadyne’s factories and is told he has only five days to live. Knowing this, Costa goes to Spider asking for a ticket to Elysium so he may be healed. Spider and Costa make a deal that could change the course of history for Elysium.
I’ve never been disappointed by Matt Damon, who plays Costa very well by exemplifying a man who is sweet but also has a few rough edges about him. I was, however, taken aback by how well Jodie Foster played villain Delacourt, who was harsh, cold-hearted and didn’t take “no” for an answer. My only criticism was that we didn’t get to know her character more. It felt short-lived since she was mainly found snarling orders at her subordinates.
Although the movie’s plot was weak, it was packed with a ton of fight scenes which included characters being annihilated with explosive discs and powerful, laser-like guns. I would definitely recommend this movie to those who like a lot of action.
This film is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.

 

Jobs

‘Jobs’

I don’t presume to know Steve Jobs like many movie critics apparently do, but it’d be a fairly safe assumption to say he’d be utterly displeased with Joshua Michael Stern’s “Jobs,” a bland portrayal of a tech giant and visionary hardly worthy of a lifetime biopic.
The film begins in 2001 as Ashton Kutcher steps in front of a large crowd of Apple employees at one of the company’s now famous product launches and introduces the iPod, a product that undoubtedly has had a significant impact on technology ever since.
A part of me tried mightily to reminisce about the day I got a hold of the bulky little box and stared in amazement – 1,000 songs. But, ultimately, Kutcher dressed as the now older, iconic Jobs – black turtle neck, bottle-cap glasses, white beard etc. – was simply too distracting as I began to recall the moronic Kutcher of old rather than envision a visionary.
Stern presumably felt the same, as the movie quickly jumped back three decades to Jobs’ time as a Reed College dropout. Kutcher is considerably more credible as the barefoot, free-loving hippie Jobs who comes across as a directionless stoner – a role Kutcher is much more accustomed too.
However Kutcher, for all his many faults, isn’t even why this film ended up being such a dud. He tried mightily, nailed down some Jobs mannerisms and even elicited some reaction from the audience during one of Jobs’ many meltdowns or rather emotional outbreaks.
But, Stern’s film simply skimmed over some career highlights and lowlights. It didn’t delve deep into Jobs’ character but rather spent time quickly glossing over well-known periods of Silicon Valley lore.
The bulk of the movie painted a picture of an impossibly difficult perfectionist who challenged the mainstream but was incapable of holding on to his own company because of his megalomaniac personality.
But, why? Kutcher’s Jobs simply acts like an incredible jerk. One minute he’s a kindred spirit whose artistic nature allows him a unique perspective and insight into his friend Steve Wozniak’s (a very good Josh Gad) hobby and the next he’s alienating everyone. It’s a quantum leap without explanation. He’s essentially kicked out of Apple in the mid-‘80s and disappears.
The film hardly touches on what Jobs was up to while away from Apple and when he was asked to come back as CEO.
Apparently, he gets married and has children. He even reconnects with a child he claimed earlier in the film wasn’t his. Furthermore, he starts up a few side projects, some briefly mentioned and others like Pixar weirdly not, and somewhere during a period of roughly 15 years becomes a decent human being again.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t cover any of this. Even more difficult to understand, the film doesn’t go any further than 2001. I guess Jobs and Apple had nothing to offer after that.
There will certainly be many films to follow through the years depicting one of the most influential and important people in recent memory, and my hope is they’ll do him more justice. It certainly set the precedent for what not to do for future film makers in years to come.
This film is rated PG-13 for obscenity, brief sensuality and drug use.




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