In 'Elysium,' the director overdoes the effects

'Elysium' follows Max (Matt Damon), who becomes irradiated and must travel to a space station to seek medical help.

Stephanie Blomkamp/TriStar, Columbia Pictures-Sony/AP
Matt Damon (l.) and Sharlto Copley (r.) star in 'Elysium.'

If the new Matt Damon sci-fi movie “Elysium” is to be trusted, by the year 2154*, the planet Earth will be one big garbage dump. I would say that date is a bit optimistic. Be that as it may, writer-director Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) sure loves his garbage.

In this socially conscious fantasy epic, Damon plays Max, a factory laborer who accidentally gets irradiated at work. With days to live, he makes a mad scramble to reach Elysium, the high-tech orbital space station where all the 1 percenters (or maybe it’s the 1/10 of one-percenters) live in bikinied bliss and medical science can cure almost anything.

The garbage-y set pieces on Earth have a fetid monumentality, and Max’s desperation is sometimes stirring. But Blomkamp overdoes even his best effects. (I would have welcomed more vistas of Elysium to break up the grungefest.) If “Elysium” is an example of how recession-era Hollywood intends to dramatize the rift between the haves and the have-nots, let’s hope the studios don’t also bring back Smell-O-Rama. Grade: C+ (Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.)

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