If you’re looking for a great double feature, you should try two sci-fi blockbuster action flicks with a lot in common, “Elysium,” in theaters now, and “Oblivion,” new to home entertainment. Director Neill Blomkamp has come a long way since his hit, “District 9.” For the bean counters monitoring the box office, it may seem like Blomkamp still has a way to go but whatever. The heart and soul of this movie is in the right place. It is an accomplishment when you can entertain and provide some sort of message.
You’ve got such an intense activist like Matt Damon as your star, and you throw in power-to-the people red meat for him to devour, and it works! Something similar is going on with “Oblivion.” Another promising director, Joseph Kosinski, is coming into his own. And he also throws in red meat at another intense actor, Tom Cruise, and that works too! Comparing the two movies is understandable given the renewed interest from Hollywood in sci-fi. You can just imagine the boardroom meetings: “Star Wars is going to eat our lunch!” And so sci-fi projects are getting the green light left and right. These two are similar movies but with different enough temperaments to keep us hopeful about big budget sci-fi.
There is a parallel reality at play in both movies. “Oblivion” is shrouded in mystery but the two worlds of “Elysium” are very clear. It’s 2154 and what’s left of Earth is for the poor to fight over. The one percent have set up nicely in a space station that houses a luxury version of Earth. It will be up to Max (Matt Damon) to save all of humanity. In “Oblivion,” it’s 2077 and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is part of the elite, as far as he knows, at the start of the movie. He and is partner/lover, Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), take orders from a central command back on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, while they act as the final clean-up crew before they too must depart for Titan. It will only be after digging around, and nearly getting killed, that Jack discovers what’s really going on.
“Elysium” proves to be the more clear-cut cat and mouse game. Max is way over his head attempting to confront the very powers of Elysium but he’s the man to do it. “Oblivion” is a great case of trying to figure out who exactly is who and who or what is in charge. In both cases, the hero is attempting to save his fellow humans. One movie takes a more hot direction. The other takes a more cool direction. Do it now or wait until later, but together they make for one great double feature.
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