Sometime in the vicinity of a year or two ago I wrote a post about how John Carter exemplified almost all of my issues with the Science Fiction film genre, with particular attention to the way the world building just sorta… flopped.
The other night my parents passed along Elysium, their recent Netflix title. Elysium offers the kind of social commentary expected from the Sci-Fi genre in a way that I found clear and succinct without being heavy handed. I also thought it handed the world building and set-up in a way that was really clear and easy to follow without dragging on forever. It only took a few brief scenes and some text to understand what was going on with Earth, what Elysium was, and who our characters were. Then, world building scenes (like the immigration dash) expanded on the world and the way it functioned.
I did find the pacing to be a little odd. It is by the same man who directed District 9, another Sci-Fi movie that handled the world building element well, but that I also found oddly paced. I am unsure if that is part of director Neill Blomkamp‘s style or if it is perhaps a structure of South African cinema (which I am unfamiliar with). Still, the pacing did not detract from my enjoyment of the movie and my belief that other Sci-fi filmmakers could study this film for tips on good world building. They can also study Jodi Foster’s accent to try and figure out what the fuck was up with that and why it was a necessary part of her characterization, because I just found it hella distracting.
I would recommend Elysium to any fans of dystopian Sci-fi, and/or anyone who enjoys movies with topical socio-politcal commentary.