Box art for Elysium


action & adventure, drama, sci-fi & fantasy

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 15
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
4 out of 5

Dazzling but heavy-handed sci-fi has violence, language.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that action/sci-fi movie Elysium is the long-awaited follow-up from the director of District 9. Like its predecessor, it has lots of strong sci-fi violence. Viewers see shootings, stabbings, killings, dripping blood, explosions, and death. A woman is slapped and kidnapped, and the main character (played by Matt Damon) goes through a gory operation (an exoskeleton is grafted onto his skin). Language is also an issue, with more than a dozen uses of "f--k," and one use of "s--t." There's a hint of drinking and drugs being an issue on the Earth of 2514 -- extras are seen drinking, and pills are offered -- but this idea goes nowhere. The movie's message, while heavy handed, is a plea for tolerance, especially among social classes.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about Elysium's violence. Is all of the gore and death necessary to convey its messages of tolerance?
  • If you were rich and lived in the movie's world, would you move to Elysium? Would you be interested in helping others?
  • Does this movie make you hate rich people or sympathize with them? Are they stereotypes? What are some ways to understand them better?
  • Can you think of other sci-fi movies (or other types of media) that have tackled political ideas through metaphor and fantasy?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Elysium reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: A cautionary tale about the dangers of squandering resources that wastes its own talent.

- Adam Nayman, Globe and Mail, Friday, August 9, 2013

Fresh: Makes clear that Blomkamp is a genuine visionary who's trying to push the envelope of possibility in mainstream popcorn cinema.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fresh: Blomkamp's admirable if obvious egalitarianism too often devolves into simplistic wish-fulfillment. Still, his formidable visual imagination is on full display.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, August 8, 2013

Audience Reviews

4 stars

A tremendously entertaining and spectacular masterpiece. Director, Neil Blomkamp follows up his triumphant, District 9 with this scorching and head-spinning new breed of science fiction movie that's bold, stylish and wickedly original. An utterly satisfying, groundbreaking and gorgeously crafted movie. A mind-blowing and explosive action-packed thrill-machine that does not let up for a minute. An extraordinary and visually dazzling piece of work that's a captivating for the eyes and ears and is loaded with pulse-pounding action and outstanding special effects from start to finish. An exhilarating and heart-pounding movie that grabs you and sucks you in and thrills you with its imagination and story. It has a grit and style that's all its own. It's one of the most exciting and breathtaking action films of 2013. The cast is truly remarkable. Matt Damon is at his best, he digs deep into his action hero roots mixing it up with the every-man and succeeds in it wonderfully. Jodie Foster is terrific. Sharlto Copley is fantastic, he delivers big with his performance playing a psychotic terminator type of character that is just a total badass. Wagner Moura is excellent.

- allan913, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

3 stars

After the wildly refreshing "District 9", Neil Blomkamp's back to bring yet another gritty vision of a dystopian future ala "Elysium". "Elysium" consists of the same bread and butter formula of "District 9": Cathartic, entertaining action coupled with a cautionary tale that's relevant with today's world issues. And what breathtaking action it is; it's quick, blunt, and visceral. Where action flicks like the James Bond films entertain audiences by harmoniously balancing the fisticuffs action, gunplay, and the cunning use of environmental dangers, "Elysium"'s action is best when it displays the imaginative weaponry of its universe -- it's that simple. Of course, it wouldn't be as entertaining as it is if it weren't for its dazzling special effects. But what helps "Elysium" stand on its own amongst its competition within the action/sci-fi genre is its message -- a message that's relevant to contemporary times. The future, much like "District 9", is dark, dreary, and left with even more problems than we have it in 2014. Despite the rawness and dizzying violence that Blomkamp portrays, the cathartic action and ingeniously crafted weaponry envisioned by the crafty mind of Blomkamp interestingly shows Blomkamp's inner child -- a sucker for cool guns and awesome exploding bodies which helps tone down the dreariness of its narrative. For the most part, the message is clear and direct, easy enough for the average joe to spot, but this message and the cathartic action is all "Elysium" devotes to. Audiences soon realize that the characters are crafted as mere cogs in a machine, all in the name conveying a message relevant to contemporary times. Yes, the characters undergo the same emotional tropes a real person may feel, but their side of the story gets lost in the dust. Where "District 9" had an incredibly captivating universe, a relevant message, and character development that was truly commanding, "Elysium" has all but the latter. Thus, "Elysium"'s lasting effect is a bludgeoning one -- one that will be quickly forgotten especially when Oscar season hits. Don't get me wrong: "Elysium" was fantastic fun, but even though the message had good intentions and may be relevant with our times, it's simply not relevant on a personal level.

- fb1463751009, Wednesday, January 15, 2014

3 stars

What starts out as quite a grounded realistic take on the future quickly descents into the kind of action flick you'd half expect to see Arnie in about 20 years ago. In fact this film reminded me very much of the Verhoeven ultra violent sci-fi 'Total Recall' with its themes on class levels, the rich and the poor and of course the hyper levels of violence. The distopian plot is pretty simple really despite the films initial intelligent appearance. Matt Damon is a grunt on Earth doing hard labour for peanuts, Earth is now a polluted ruined disaster zone. Up above orbiting Earth is the space station Elysium where all the wealthy folk live, they enjoy a perfect existence with health care, clean air and luxury. Through negligence on his bosses part Damon gets a massive dose of radiation and has five days live. So now the clock is ticking and Damon must get his ass to Mars...errr Elysium so he can treat himself. There are many good and bad elements in this film and straight away that is a bad one. The technology in this film goes from a really impressive realism with all the robot workers, military and police, to downright insanity with the medical care. The rich have these pod-like machines that will basically cure you of ANYTHING! absolutely anything can be fixed. This really does sound too good to be true even for a sci-fi film, its gets so ludicrous that even when the films bad guy gets his face blow off these wonder machines still manage to patch him back together bringing him back to life with clear memories of what happened before he was 'killed'. No recuperation required folks, good as new. As said the robots in the film look amazing, very realistic and practical if you ask me, you could almost manufacture them right now!. I did love the visuals in the film from start to finish, its really glossy where it needs to be. The space station Elysium looks like the big space wheel from '2001' but the immense detail of its interior when we see flybys from spacecrafts is breathtaking, it really looks good. Most of the ships you see aren't overly original in design but again they all look functional, realistic and very cool, the bad guys ship is a very sweet looking bounty hunter ride, eat your heart out Boba Fett!. On the flip side Earth looks perfectly grimy, bleak and desolated, we've seen it all before but it still looks good. I did enjoy the themes throughout this film, again hardly original stuff with the old class rivalry between the rich and the poor. Interesting to see an American film tackle immigration in such a stark way, especially when everyone on Earth appears to be Latino/Spanish speaking folk (minorities) and they are all made out to be ruthless, dirty, tattooed, gun toting scavengers who aren't able to hold onto civilised society without white folk. Many also don't appear to be able to do anything constructive accept criminal activities...until Damon (a white guy) comes along and saves them all. Oh and is Damon the only white guy left in this region? or Earth? well him and his nasty boss. Anywho life is cheap on Earth and the rich see it as expendable, no surprises there then. Then of course you have the hot topic of healthcare (for the Yanks) and the fact that it appears to be free and easy (I think it was, everyone has one of those pod things). Its the perfect utopia with no scruffy ethnic minority immigrants clogging up the system. Most of the people on Elysium appeared to be white with blonde hair...those damn blondes, the mark of evil I tell ya!. Basically all the white people were bad, accept Damon, everyone else was good and repressed...not too many messages in this film huh. Oh and the really bad guys were white South Africans!! that's like...doubly bad!. Nice touch that Damon and all the other grunts earn peanuts slaving away in factories making the very robots that make their lives a living hell with a lot of stern bureaucracy and tough laws. Still not original but it works. So I enjoyed this film a lot right up until the point where the bad guy merc turns into some kind of comicbook super villain right out of a W.S. Anderson flick. Seriously I half expected Jovovich to pop up and fight him. Now I can't deny this guy was a good baddie but my God was he over the top, I mean they really tried to make this guy some kind of iconic badass. Head to toe in an admittedly cool looking military suit and looking very i]Halo-ish/i], lots of big hidden knives and guns all over the place, some kind of energy shield from the Star Wars universe and to top it all just in case he wasn't quite ultra cool enough...a samurai sword strapped to his back. Yeah this guy was meant to be the ultimate villain alright, I don't think they could possibly give him anymore weaponry if they tried, seriously tooled up. But despite this uber visual coolness on display the film just went downhill so fast towards the end. Such a predictable mess of action movie cliches. Damon gets his exoskeleton suits early on but doesn't really do too much, they save it for the inevitable fight between him and this uber badass South African bad guy (yep he was really South African folks and his name is 'Kruger' *groan*). Two badasses wearing exoskeleton suits giving them super strength, speed, power etc...must fight to the death in yet another 'Matrix-esque/Underworld-esque' battle, gee I wonder who wins after all that wire work. Don't get me wrong the action is top rate and extremely brutal at times. The gun battles we see are terrific and pretty realistic looking even though its futuristic gear. It all looks very much like certain popular FPS videogames to me at times, not a complaint I assure you as its really thrilling to watch, especially on Bluray. The entire film is super slick and a treat for the eyes to be sure, sound too, a very polished action film. Highly thrilling ride from Earth into orbit that's for sure but its just a shame its a film of two halves. On one hand it seems like it could of been a very decent intelligent (if somewhat questionable) science fiction story based on life in the year 2154. but there's a clear line in the sand which the film crosses and it goes in a completely different direction, it turns into Arnie fodder. So I find myself torn liking both halves but knowing they don't really blend too well together in my opinion. Plus it does get way too stupid towards the end and the actual ending its self is soooooo corny it was embarrassing. With some heavy themes this does feel a lot like a modern 'Robocop' but it doesn't have that dark satirical angle. More like controversial stereotyping and strong propaganda softened with sonictacular turbo violence for the masses. Definitely makes you think on various levels which is good and you do get bang for your buck which is also good. A very jumbled film but solid certainly.

- phubbs1, Thursday, January 9, 2014