There aren't that many films I look forward to seeing, especially with the recent spat of pre-teen friendly superhero movies, but I was pretty stoked when I saw the trailer for Elysium. Wow, an intelligent science fiction action story with a great concept, from the guy who did District 9! I was on board.
Then I saw the film. It was.. ok.
Then I saw the trailer again, and it actually annoyed me. The film didn't deliver on it. Seeing the trailer again just rammed that home, cause I still want to actually see that film.
I don't want to rail on all the things I didn't like, and there was a lot I did like. Instead I was going to think about how I would have done things differently. This film is right up my alley, its my genre, hell its something I would have written myself, so I wondered why I didn't enjoy it. I decided to press all the books I've been reading into service and see if I can come up with a story I think I would have enjoyed more..
These are just some basic thoughts on the concept, all the action set pieces can be hung off of this, but that's all just flash in the pan if there's nothing behind it..
- I would drop the illegal immigrant angle. Elysium is a place where you can go for treatment if you can afford it. This makes the plotting a lot more straightforward, and less 'in your face' allegorical.
- The hero is not a recovering criminal, he's a recovering soldier. His disease is something chronic, something you can live with. But "boy Imagine if I didn't have this, everything would be roses!".
- Elysium is paradise, sure, but the thing isn't getting there, its belonging there. That's the crux of the story. Acceptance.
- Getting cured isn't going to get him what he wants, we could even get that over with in the first 10 minutes. Now we meet The Girl, a resident of Elysium.
- The Hero wants to be accepted, firstly by a family, then by a society. Elysium is an unnatural society, built not on acceptance, but on rejection. The main romantic story plays that out as they back-and-forth. The story is done when they get together, because the original premise of Elysium itself will be disproven.
- The villain. This is someone who wants to enforce separation, so he's at odds with our Hero. I think this guy is a terrorist. This guy represents the thing that actually does keep people apart - fear.
- He arrives on the station, causes mayhem, and then things kick off. He has an agenda, he's not just a loose cannon. Most of the action then takes place on Elysium (which delivers on the trailer more).
- During the fun and games, we learn that Elysium is a novelty that wears off quickly. People here are more isolated than those on Earth. There are a lot of cracks and decay up close.
- The villain is defeated, the Hero doesn't die, and he does get the girl. This is the movies after all!