The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee and Todd Pearage

Elysium (12/17/2013)

Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.

Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley

Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

Jonathan's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Dynamic ImageSharlto Copley and Director Neill Blomkamp do it again!

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. Secretary Rhodes, a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

TODD’S WORD: Jonathan, back when we reviewed District 9, you and I disagreed. You gave it a score of “Rental” and I scored it “Theatre Worthy.” How did you feel about Elysium?

JONATHAN’S WORD: I really liked it. Sure, same director, and same genre. Maybe it was the addition of Damon to the cast that upped the caliber.

TODD’S WORD: I’m actually going to say the same thing about this movie that I did about District 9. I’m probably going to get in trouble with this review. I know it is violent, I know it is disturbing, I know they overuse the F-word…but Elysium is a great movie.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I agree. In these reviews we usually touch on two elements: whether the film was entertaining, but also was it “wholesome.” Reviewing some films can be difficult because a film might be very well done, but loaded with garbage. For me, gratuitous elements often affect my ability to enjoy it. And it definitely hinders being able to sit down with my family and watch it.

TODD’S WORD: I wouldn’t say that this film was “loaded with garbage,” but I also can’t say it is “wholesome.” While it does offer fodder for great conversation about classes, wealth and privilege and life being unfair, it does so in a dark and disturbing way.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I guess I’ll go out on the limb with you, because I didn’t think the film had any gratuitous sex or violence at all. Was the film violent? Yes. But violence doesn’t negate a film’s effectiveness to me. Compare Schindler’s List to Saw. Both violent, but one was purposeful and one was gratuitous. Elysium was a great story about a corrupt world, and the film makers didn’t hold back showing you some of the ugliness that resulted from that corruption. It never made me question, “Why did they have to show that?”

TODD’S WORD: What did you think about the cast, let's start with Sharlto Copley. In District 9 you said he was weak and irritating, what did you think about him in this role?

JONATHAN’S WORD: It is interesting to reflect on his District 9 role. I actually enjoyed that movie; it just wasn’t great. He wasn’t bad in that role; he was just so different than the typical lead in a film. Maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’m brainwashed to desire likeable characters, even heroes in my films. District 9 didn’t provide that.

Or maybe my voice and other voices like mine were heard because Elysium came through with that hero we wanted—in the character of Matt Damon. He was likable, funny and a stud!

Copley was actually a really good nemesis in this film. He and the rest of the supporting cast were spot on.

TODD’S WORD: I agree there, they really stepped up their game with some legit star power for this film. I thought Matt Damon and Jodie Foster were excellent and although William Fichtner had a small role, he played it well. And I loved Sharlto Copley. He’s almost unrecognizable as the pumped up villain.

What did you think about the story?

JONATHAN’S WORD: The story was creative, but a little preachy, for those who catch it (Yes, the story is about a world of Hispanic people who are all trying to cross a border of sorts to receive good healthcare from the evil white people. Hmmmmmm.)

The biggest mistake I think the film made was a few predictable moments, such as the final fight scene. As Damon and Copley faced each other near the end of the film, I leaned over to my daughter and said, “It would be really cool if this fight was over in 2 hits.” But instead, the film went for the proverbial fight scene, complete with ‘shakey-cam’ to try to add to the confusion. Sigh. Seen it a million times. (How about surprising us like the final showdown between Magua and Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans. Now that was surprisingly refreshing!)

TODD’S WORD: Maybe so. But I thought it was original enough to keep my interest, and the special effects were mind blowing. Whether it was the spaceships, weapons or the robots, everything looked believable and realistic. But Elysium itself was just amazing.

JONATHAN’S WORD: No argument there. And the film definitely held my attention. My daughter, on the other hand… she kept looking at her watch.

TODD’S WORD: Neill Blomkamp hasn’t directed a ton of films, but at this stage in his career, I will go see anything he directs.

JONATHAN’S WORD: He is unique. I’d see his future films.

TODD’S WORD: If you are looking for a great film that is pretty original (and you can overlook the language) GO SEE IT!! It just might make my top-ten list of best films in 2013 – it’s definitely “Theater Worthy.”

JONATHAN’S WORD: If you like sci-fi and action, you’ll really enjoy this film. I also think it’s worth seeing in the theatre.

Just like District 9, this one is not for kids. It is violent, dark, disturbing and there is a lot of profanity. There is, however, no sex or nudity.


  1. There is a scene in the movie where Max is talking to the nun and he is saying it’s not fair that some people live in Elysium and everyone else is stuck living on earth. The nun says, “Sometimes in life we don’t understand why things are the way they are.” Have you ever felt like Max? What was it that made you feel that way?

  2. In the movie, what were some of the things that were unfair?

  3. Read Romans 8:28
      And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

  4. Read Isaiah 55:8-9
      “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

  5. How can these verses help us when we think life is unfair?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

Rate This Article!
*Email:  What is Gravatar?  


click here for more

© 1999-2017 The Source for Youth Ministries           Site Disclaimer