Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wither Elysium, An Original Property

So Elysium just crashed and burned. I’m not surprised. Matt Damon is an ass and his politicking has turned people off. And there’s no doubt this film was all about politicking. It was the story of a world where poor people build spaceships to illegally immigrate to a space station full of rich people who have universal healthcare machines and live forever. If Damon didn’t think Obama was too much of a right-winger, he probably would have included a push for a third term for El Presidente... and perhaps a love scene.

How badly did Elysium fail? Well, it made $29.8 million. That’s well below Sony’s already pathetic estimate of $35 million. It’s also $8 million below the $37 million opening of both Oblivion (cum: $90 million) and Pacific Rim (cum: $100 million) and just $2 million more than After Earth (cum: $60 million). In other words, it’s doing worse than three huge bombs from this summer. It’s also a lot worse than Director Blomkamp’s prior (also leftist political) film District 9, which brought in $37.4 on its opening and $115 million total. Of course, that only cost $30 million to make. Elysium cost $115 million to produce and then millions more to market.

This is yet another strike against Sony, which has just imploded this year and seems to be on the verge of a power struggle. But that’s not what interests me now. What interests me is that Hollywood is blaming the failure of Elysium not on its noxious politics or its rancid star or the bad marketing or the fact it looks like Oblivion II. No. They are blaming it on being “an original property.”

In other words, they are saying the film failed because it wasn’t an adaptation of a famous book or television show or a remake of a successful movie.

Bull.

Hollywood has become obsessed with only making films that have built-in audiences because they think that reduces the risk of the film being a bomb. Of course, that hasn’t worked out so well, but that’s not the point today either.

The point today is that Elysium didn’t fail because it was an original property, it failed because it doesn’t look like anything anyone wants to see. General audiences don’t avoid films just because they don’t know the “property” from which it comes... Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future and Close Encounters were all original properties. And science fiction fans certainly don’t avoid science fiction films just because they don’t know the property from which is comes.

People avoid films if they think the film is going to stink. The avoid films that star Matt Damon. They avoid films that look like propaganda. They avoid films that look like crap. They avoid films with bad marketing. This film has all of that. What exactly did the trailers tell you? Gee, a sweaty Matt Damon shoots at a robot thingy. I learned nothing more from the trailers. How does that make me want to see the film? How about these questions reviewers asked:
Why does only Los Angeles matter? What happened to China and Europe? How can these poor people afford to build spaceships to try to immigrate? How come the space station has no defenses? How come the cops only work when it’s convenient to the plot? Does denying everyone immortality really make you a bad guy as the film suggests? What happened to the middle class and upper class people? How do the people who clean the toilets on the space station afford to live there? Etc.
The problem wasn’t that this was an original property, the problem was that this was a poorly thought-out film that reeked of mindless propaganda, which starred an actor whose popularity is tanking, which looked like a rip off of the director’s prior work and several other films that bombed this same summer, and which had horrible marketing which gave no one a reason to see the film.

There’s your problem.

79 comments:

tryanmax said...

Sadly, I am such a sucker for post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi that I can't help myself and Matt Damon will still get his cut of the 75¢* I'll inevitably drop at Redbox. Sorry folks.

(*$1.29 w/ 50¢-off promo code)

AndrewPrice said...

I'll check it out when it hits the movie channels, because I check out all science fiction. I don't expect much though, and I won't pay for a ticket.

I just think it's interesting that they think they can legitimately blame "original stories" for it's failure. Talk about twisted. I can actually see how they came to that conclusion at a meeting... "You know the public has no taste. They just want repeats of things they already know. This is juts more proof. We have to dumb it down again. Stupid public."

Tennessee Jed said...

I guess a question I have is this. There is clearly a market for this type of film (see Tryanmax's comment above. And, a lot of younger people are liberals, so those people don't get hung up on things like "I don't want to give that A-hole Damon a nickel and be insulted" the way, say, I do. But, my unproven thesis is that you can't have a mega blockbuster if the pre-release publicity so clearly identifies it as political propoga crap, because you are turning off too many people. Now, you can overcome this with a film that is considered really well done. I am thinking of a film like Avatar. We all agree that Cameron is a dork, but the buzz on Avatar was that it was stunning. And, Cameron has a reputation of making really big well done films like Titanic or Terminator. So, unless you have something like that going for you, I just don't think a guy like Damon can get away with things like bringing attention to his ideology and, indirectly the over the top "in your face" message of this film.

tryanmax said...

Jed, to piggyback on your comment, I think it also goes to show that, while in order to have a hit you have to catch the teen/young adult demo, you can't have a hit if you only catch that demo.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think that's the problem. Keep in mind that the audience for a film like this will skew white and male, which means the audience skews right. So his ideology probably hurts here more than it would in a romance film.

That said, I think a big chunk of the audience simply doesn't want to see a film they think will be preachy, no matter what side it preaches. So the more he talks about this, the more he loses those people too.

But ultimately, I think this film failed mainly because the marketing couldn't tell anyone why they would want to see it. Until I looked it up, I had no idea what the film was about even after seeing the trailers. Why put down money when you don't know what you're getting? Not to mention that as Damon ages he seems to be getting nastier and less likeable, even leaving politics aside. His "thing" was the young, stumbling underdog. Now he's playing the macho, growling super-killer and it just doesn't fit.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, To have a huge hit, you need to hit all kinds of demographics. That's why they always try to include things to appeal to everyone. The problem is, that has an artificial feel and it doesn't draw people in to feel that something token has been tossed into the film for them. Story is what counts... always has.

K said...

Elysium doesn’t have a message, Blomkamp told Wired Magazine.

Not the first time I've heard that WRT a blatantly political movie. It's as if they know that political messaging is going to kill their box office going in but can't help themselves. Then they lie about it after the fact.

Been reading Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" - sort of a "paint by numbers" for screen writing. His first chapter, however, is something I don't remember reading other places. He says the big key for a successful movie now is that a couple sentence description tells exactly what the movie is about and makes the ticket buyer interested enough to go. That, he says, is why sequels and re-makes are so prevalent - the customer knows what he's getting up front and if he's interested.

Elysium qualifies on those counts because it's log line - Dying hero helps earth bound poor sick people take out 1 percent space station to get stuff to make them well - is totally clear, but must have been focus group tested in Berkeley.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I think that has become standard practice: lie about your film. If you are talking to fans of the work you've stolen, you claim that you are being faithful to it and revere the original... even as you crap all over it. If people are upset about the political content, you lie and claim there is no message intended even as you previously claimed you included a message. If there are rumors that your lead actress pulled a Lohan, you deny it and talk about her helping nuns. If she's Zooey D and everyone laughs at her being stupid, then you claim she's brilliant. This is "marketing to the extreme" (i.e. fraud) where you say whatever you need to sell the movie.

What you are talking about with the couple sentences has result in log line fetish. If you want to sell a script these days, you need the perfect "log line", i.e. the 1-2 sentence that describes the movie: "It's Die Hard on a canoe." Nothing else matters.

As for Elysium, it has a good log line, but the problem is you can't figure that out without researching it. The trailers looked like "Matt Damon fights robot in Iraq, huh?"


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Not that it makes any difference to me, but this is hardly an original idea, so it doesn't even have that going for it.

Nice take down Andrew! :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! That was my other thought. I saw this movie when it was called In Time or the remake of Total Recall. This is absolutely not an original idea.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

You know, when it comes to propaganda, especially, it seems like even the best directors suddenly lose the abilitly to make the most rudimentary case for their films...or any case at all with any coherence whatsoever.

Just the example of questions that you showed is very basic stuff but the filmmakers can't make any leap of logic, let alone flawed logic.
It's like hearing a toddler make up a story but without the cute factor or humor.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Most like because the ideology of filmakers like these is based on faith not reason, or reason plus faith.
Basically, this is part of the dogma of their religion (political and cultural ideology minus the Aristotle philosophy).

Like The Bible or Torah without the wisdom inherent in it.
There's no nous like good nous, lol.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Even outside the realm of propaganda, I'm shocked how common it is now that films just don't make sense. It seems that the idea of thinking things through is passe. So often now, you'll see ideas that don't work, but they just leave them in even though they could have fixed them with just another line or dialog or two. And I don't even mean philosophical points, I'm talking about obvious things... "Why did he decide to set fire to his pants again?"

And when it comes to ideology, then these things get worse. That's when you run into utter nonsense just because they are trying to "make a point."

Liberal ideology is exactly like that: dogma without wisdom.

ScottDS said...

Taking their overseas box-office into account, I don't think we should be referring to Oblivion and Pacific Rim as bombs just yet. You can have Shyamalan, though. :-D

My friend saw this movie the other day: he liked Matt Damon, HATED Jodie Foster (apparently, she was dubbed with a bizarre accent), and he thought it looked great but had some problems with the world-building aspect, including some items you bring up which are detailed here. I haven't seen the film so I haven't read the article.

District 9, on the other hand, had EXCELLENT marketing as well as Peter Jackson who comes with his own built-in "geek cred." And yeah, that film was political insofar as it was an Apartheid story (the director is South African) while THIS particular film hits closer to home in this country… and, according to even apolitical critics, it's much less subtle than the previous film, which wasn't that subtle!

As for audiences, I do agree with you. BUT… given technology, the Internet, etc., is it fair to say that audiences today are a slightly different breed than audiences of yesteryear?

ScottDS said...

Ben, Even outside the realm of propaganda, I'm shocked how common it is now that films just don't make sense.

I haven't read the article yet (spoilers) but this very point is brought up here.

PikeBishop said...

You guys are 100% wrong about the quality of this film. I had misgivings going in but ended up seeing it anyway (coin flip with another couple that we go to films with), and it is a cinematic masterpiece, a stunning depiction of a very believable near-future if things don't change. The world is totally believable and Matt Damon's acting is Oscar-caliber.

Elysium, in point of fact, has totally changed my life. In fact from this day forward I am dedicating my life to living out the principles outlined in its masterfully written and directed plot. Principles I am sure Matt Damon totally agrees with.

Starting next week I am going to start driving around LA and collecting homeless people. I am going to give them guns and I am going to deposit them in the Hollywood Hills, near the mansions of Matt Damon, the director and various other celebrities. I am certain the homeless and the disenfranchised will be welcomed with open arms as Damon and the others throw open the gates of their "Elysiums" and welcome them in, so the horrible, horrible world of this film will never ever come to pass.

shawn said...

This is one I'll netflix. The effects look excellent, but the commie friendly story looks off putting.

I'll also stand up for "Pacific Rim" and "Oblivion". I enjoyed both immensely. They might not be everyone's cup of tea, but that just makes life interesting.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

I'll see this on Redbox or Netflix... I liked Oblivion a lot. I saw it in IMAX so that might have helped too, but yeah there were retreads from previous sci-fi movies... to quote the wisest king ever... "There is nothing new under the Sun."

Or as the kids like to say..."Everything is a Remix"

http://vimeo.com/19447662

K said...

Pike Bishop:I'm down with the struggle comrade!



AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I have to disagree. Audiences aren't different than they were in the past. A small segment is better informed, that's about it though. It is a mistake to assume that most people will research films before they go or that they hang out at film sites. The vast, vast, vast majority of people who will see a film don't know it exists until they see a trailer for it or until they are standing at the Cinema staring at the choices... just as it has always been.

As for these being bombs, they are. Overseas may make them profitable, but they are still bombs. The general thinking in Hollywood, from what I've seen, is that a film needs to make back three times its production costs to be considered a success. It needs four or more times to be considered a hit. Two times is a failure. And anything less than two times is a bomb. Even if these things hit overseas, they still won't reach those numbers, they'll be in the 1-2 times range.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop! LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL! Bravo! That was fantastic. I completely embrace your plan for invading Matt Damon's mansion with an army of homeless people. I'm sure Matt will be proud of you.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I intend to see all three. I'm hopeful on Oblivion. But whether or not these are good films, they are considered bombs because of the financial aspect.

PikeBishop said...

Armed homeless people no less, Andrew, let's not forget that! Heh heh!

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, LOL! There is serious irony in the kids saying, "Everything is a remix." Somehow, that's very Zen too.

I'm looking forward to Oblivion. I'll see the others too, but I don't expect much. The effects look good in this one, but story sounds really pathetic.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Well, they have to be armed. The teachings of Comrade Damon say so! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

K, I think PikeBishop should video tape the whole thing. Actually, this sounds like a heck of a movie premise.

KRS said...

My problem with some actors is what I'll call the Martin Sheen effect - they get so strident and intolerant with their politics that the can no longer disappear into the role. Gettysburg is my favorite war movie and it is based on my favorite war narrative, The Killer Angels. It is an excellent movie, inspirational and heart rending without a single flat note. But Martin is right there in the middle of it as General Robt E Lee. When I watch the movie, I never see Tom Berenger in a role; I see General James Longstreet. But I never see Lee - I see Martin Sheen in a Confederate officer's uniform.

I think Andrew has made this point repeatedly; these guys tarnish their own brands and their brands just happen to be their faces. Matt Damon is a skilled actor with he chops to disappear into a role, but he's poisened his brand. When I watched True Grit, I saw Rooster Cogburn bustin up the baddies with a little help from Matt Damon, who for some strange reason was going by the name, LaBoeuf.

PikeBishop said...

KRS: I have come to grips with your problem about Martin Sheen and their ilk, as Gettysburg is one of my favorite movies as well. I have a "point of no return policy" with idiot liberal celebtards. I will be ok with their work up to the point in actual time they pissed me totally off. At the time of Gettysburg (1993) Sheen was just another lib to me, but then he went around the bend. Likewise Samuel Jackson and Morgan Freeman. I'll still watch Pulp Fiction and Glory, but they are box office dead to me, now Fredo.

Try that policy.

Kit said...

Original property?

Lets look at an example of brand property to disprove that point: Iron Man.
Almost no one, and I say no one, knew who Iron Man was. He was, at best, a vague comic book character. Most people probably couldn't (1) name his alter ego, (2) name a villain of his, or (3) even tell you the color of his armor.

But then this trailer came out and everyone wanted to see it.
LINK

Writer X said...

I had no desire to see this film because it starred Damon and the movie trailer looked stupid.

Dennis Miller tweeted the funniest line. He said another bomb like this one and Damon will have to send his kids to public school. We can only hope.

KRS said...

Pike: I really don't have a policy because I just don't like going to the theater any more due to rude patrons. I'm just pointing out that, once an actor has married his image to some sort of social or political activism, s/he is pretty much branded forever. It has the effect of preventing the actor from ever again 'disappearing' into a role.

By 1993, Martin Sheen had made a name for himself protesting the nuclear power, weapons and the military, so casting him as the beloved military leader of a nation with the institution of slavery was almost comically absurd.

I just figured out my problem with these guys: typecasting. They have typecasted themselves in the real world, making them unbelievable in many roles in film. All the actors we are talking about are highly skilled, but they are degrading their brand, and in the process alerting us to the potential for suckerpunches when they're in a movie. So, we know not to go.

How about that?

Koshcat said...

I have no intention of spending extra money to watch this movie. Maybe if it comes on Netflix. It's too bad because I actually enjoyed District 9, especially the part about being addicted to cat food. I don't really understand what makes a "hit". Avatar was the biggest piece of crap of all time. Battlefield Earth was more interesting. I rented it from the library and still was only able to get through about half of it.

On a separate note, did anyone read the interview with Shyamalan? Apparently he has a new book out regarding education reform. He also still live in Philedelphia rather than Hollywood. If only his movies were better.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, I concur. The problem isn't their politics so much as their stridency, their intolerance, and the nasty things they say which stick with you. At that point, you stop seeing them as whatever character and instead you see them the person and all the things you don't like about them. They become a distraction which keeps you from enjoying the film as a film.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I'm the same way to a degree. I can ignore most anything, but there are a handful who are beyond the pale for me. And even with some of them, I can watch older films with these people in them and largely ignore their politics. But there are couple who have just poisoned the well too much for me and I can no longer see them as anything but what they've become.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I would bet on an well-made, well-marketed original property every time over a remake or adaptation. While your downside risk is greater, your upside potential is MUCH higher because you can pull in everyone. By comparison a remake already excludes a sizable chunk of people who didn't care for the original.

Also, as for original properties, you don't even need to try to see Ironman as that. Look at Star Wars, Raiders, Close Encounters, Back to the Future, Inception, etc.

And if you want to talk about adaptation of barely known properties, look at The Matrix or Men in Black.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, LOL! Excellent tweet. It's amazing hypocrisy that someone who gets richer than even most of the 1%ers can make socialist films attacking those people.

As for the trailer, I thought it was horrible. It told me nothing about the film. And when they are busy hiding what the film is about, then you know it's bad.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, Excellently diagnosed.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I haven't read the interview. I like Shyamalan, but he hasn't used his talent well of late. It's too bad.

I enjoyed District 9 as well, but it was obviously political.

Koshcat said...

It was in the weekend WSJ.

T-Rav said...

Yeah. Even EW.com, which is not exactly a right-wing outlet, if you weren't aware, was panning--well, the ending to the movie. Not the whole movie, but the ending was apparently really heavy-handed and obvious.

I haven't seen Elysium, but on the surface, I'm not sure why it would compare unfavorably to District 9. Both combine political messaging with at least some amount of character conflict/development, blah blah blah. Besides having Matt Damon, I suppose the answer might be that Elysium sets up a far more simplistic world for the viewer, where everyone is clearly good or clearly bad. District 9 had obvious villains, too, but they weren't all rich white guys, and it had a more real-world feel to it. Maybe that's part of it; like I said, though, I haven't watched it.

EricP said...

Same Hollywood which recently slobbered all over The Artist's throwback originality, so whatchagonnado?

I know Graham Parker meant rock critics, but same theory applies to the hive of scum and villainy I call a good chunk of my Hell-A neighbors: "You got people in charge of pens who shouldn't be in charge of brooms."

KRS said...

District 9 was truly a good story and it came to the apartheid debate long after it was over. Kinda like a movie on antebellum slavery: yes, it was very bad and we're glad it's gone. So, there's no suckerpunch there and it's a genuinely good story that is well executed.

Interestingly, over at io9 they gave a pretty negative review, but they couldn't say that it was a bad movie in the headline: "Here's what Elysium did wrong - and what it did right." Part of the Gawker franchise, io9 was saying that the message was good. What was bad? Well, the story, the characters, the world building, etc.

They had been gushing with almost orgasmic anticipation for the movie for some time - guess it was too far to fall.

Nothing's perfect.

Individualist said...

I read a review on Elysium by some obvious liberal critic that I found amusing.

Essentially the critic stated that the movie's politics had the right idea, showing how the class struggle will go down etc. but the problem was ...

the film had too many explosions and senseless violence that detracted from the Director and actor's ability to show character't that were not cartoons...

Yeeep .... when I am going to see the latest Terminator movie I don't want to see any of that gratuitous violence especially if it gets in the way of making a good marxist statement.

Kit said...

Andrew,

I wanted to go with the most recent example. But you are right. (Forgot about Inception!)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Having not seen it yet, I can't say. But it sounds like poorly done propaganda.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I think a lot of people claim to want originality and "something unique," but really don't. Most people really want cliches and well-trodden storyline, with just enough of a veneer to let them think they are seeing something original.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, I liked District 9 for the visuals and the story, though I was conflicted about the message.

On the one hand, it was clearly an anti-Apartheid message, which I have no problem with. Apartheid and other forms of state-sanctioned racism are simply wrong and inconsistent with my libertarian leanings.

It does bother me though that the left does these things and then tries to blame everyone else once the immorality of it becomes untenable. Indeed, check out the South African government and you will find that they would have fit in well with leftists the world over. But the film, as the left always does, wrongly tried to link state racism with capitalism. That angers me.

I also thought it was a little late for an anti-Apartheid message as that had been long gone by that point, and the film's message really didn't have a more "universal" feel to it. So it felt anachronistic to me.

I also had to laugh at how amazingly worthless and unlikable they made the aliens. That kind of undermined their message.

But the message didn't overwhelm the film for me, and the rest of it was enjoyable.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's funny. I guess if you can't say anything good, then fake it and move on.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I gotcha.

LL said...

I saw the movie, knowing that it was a "progressive wet dream" where the rich (principally white) people lived in a poorly armed space station and spoke French and the poor (principally colored) people lived in...Detroit 2013 and spoke Spanish.

The plot was simple, but despite the liberal plot, I was entertained. I define entertainment by seeing the whole movie without once looking at my watch to see how much longer I had to sit there.

Maybe I'm simply "easily entertained", like a crow looking at an ornament? I liked Promethius too and many on this blog didn't.

The religious overtones (Matt Damon as Jesus, resurrecting the dead), Jody Foster (playing herself), and the evil bounty hunter, who I personally cheered for all came together for what I will characterize as a 7 out of 10. If I hated every sic fi film because of it's socially progressive message, I'd also have hated Star Trek (original series) and I didn't. I just tune that stuff out to the extent possible and suspend disbelief.

wahsatchmo said...

According to Blomkamp himself, nearly every critic has interpreted both District 9 and Elysium incorrectly.

Elysium is supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of open immigration, while District 9 was supposed to be about the collapse of Zimbabwe. So the problem appears to be not that Blomkamp is selling a leftish message, it's that he's not getting his real message across.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, Uh... wow. I don't know if I should believe that or not.

I will say this though, about District 9, he really makes the aliens out as "less than desirable." Intensely stupid, lazy, useless, a subspecies who can't even run the spaceship they came here on, and the message of the film could be seen as "if you get too close, they are like a virus and will ruin you."

So maybe these quotes and this analysis is real?

Wow.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, They speak French on the space station? Wow, this is a pure fantasy. LOL!

On Prometheus, I find myself mainly frustrated at the confusion within the movie and so much of the wasted potential, but it's very watchable.

I don't know if this will be watchable or not, usually ideology isn't enough to keep me from enjoying a film. But it does sound really obnoxious.

K said...

LL:From Taki - Elysium is supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of open immigration, while District 9 was supposed to be about the collapse of Zimbabwe.

Yeah, AVATAR was about the dangers of open immigration as well, that clever bastard Cameron really pulled a fast one there.

T-Rav said...

I don't know. I kind of liked that the aliens in District 9 weren't cuddlebears, that they were flawed and not too approachable. For one thing, it's the exact opposite of what they did in Avatar, and also, I thought it was a subtle point about racism--it's easy to denounce in the abstract, but when the minority group is right there and not very appealing, it's even easier to slip into "well, something needs to be done about those creatures" territory.

What I did not like about the movie was the total villainization of Big Business as a bunch of cruel, soulless thugs--who were apparently all rich and white. But, it also didn't make the black population the noble allies of the prawns--the most notable black characters were out to exploit them and steal from them. All in all, it was about as balanced a film dealing with that kind of thing as could be made today.

Kit said...

"I will say this though, about District 9, he really makes the aliens out as "less than desirable." Intensely stupid, lazy, useless, a subspecies who can't even run the spaceship they came here on, and the message of the film could be seen as "if you get too close, they are like a virus and will ruin you."

"Elysium is supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of open immigration, while District 9 was supposed to be about the collapse of Zimbabwe. So the problem appears to be not that Blomkamp is selling a leftish message, it's that he's not getting his real message across."

-------------------------

Cue jokes about Blomkamp being a racist Boer/Afrikaner. ;)

T-Rav said...

Oh, well, I guess I should have read that article about Blomkamp first.

Hmmmmm....I don't know. If that's what he intended, that's what he intended; but when literally EVERYONE has a completely different take on your movie than you do, that may not be a commentary on them.

LL said...

On Eylsium, Jody Foster, who speaks French (it's fiction) is orchestrating a coup that will make her dictator of the space station. It's one central theme of the movie, but she's clearly not up to the task.

Open Immigration is clearly a theme and if I ran Elysium, I'd turn some of the urban hells into clean seas of radioactive glass. Urban renewal. Fewer people to immigrate to the clean and self sustaining space station. That's not progressive at all, but it would solve the over crowding problem. Or just wait for the next ice age that will put ice 3000 meters thick over the northern and southern hemispheres and let Earth kill them off like rats. Meanwhile, life on the space station would be good and they could go down when the ice recedes and re-populate. Clearly the movie makers didn't share my practical vision.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, If the quotes are legit, then it would be something. He would basically be making a statement that would normally get Hollywood screaming "RACISM!!" I'm curious how people missed this though.

I do like his aliens. They are unique.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, Since when has killing tens of millions of people not been progressive?

AndrewPrice said...

K, I thought Avatar was meant as an anti-Smurf rant.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Racism isn't something to joke about... except when it is.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

The problem with Elysium is similar to what low budget Christian films in the 1970s had (or the newer Left Behind films or whatever....) They are so earnest in their religiosity that they can never give the other side a fair argument and thus it's good guys vs. cartoon villains which makes for a bad story.

Good examples of Christian films... The Passion of the Christ, To End All Wars (it went straight to video sadly, but stars Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle s WW2 POWs in a Japanese camp), The Apostle.

Liberal films too Dead Man Walking and Kubrick's Paths of Glory or All Quiet on the Western Front are good examples of films that push a progressive viewpoint (anti death penalty and pacifism) but do so intelligently and thoughtfully with nuanced antagonists. Elysium is a big budget Evangelical "End Times" movie from a left-liberal perspective. Ergo, it will blow major chunks.

wahsatchmo said...

A note: Steve Sailor (the author of the Taki mag article) is pretty good about his research. He's also probably the incarnation of the devil's advocate. Grain of salt.

I really enjoyed District 9 as it was. It's a fish-ousted-out-of-water-tries-to-find-a-new-pond story. Much like I bet Elysium is a fish-ousted-out-of-water-tries-to-find-a-new-pond story.

KRS said...

Floyd - Just a quick note about low budget Christian films, there has been a new wave of particularly good christian films this millenium. Some are low key about their intentions, like "Saints and Soldiers," others are more blunt about their message: anything from Sherwood Pictures. But even the more "preachy" ones, like Sherwood's, seem to be pretty well written and acted.

If you have daughters, the "Love Comes Softly" series goes over very well.

One thought about "Passion of the Christ:" I have always disliked the bloody movie wave that seemed to be sparked by "Saving Private Ryan" - theres also "Patriot," "Braveheart," etc. The depiction of violence feels excessive and tends to take me out of the movie - it actually does begin to feel like porn. But with "Passion" I never feel that reaction and the only reason I can imagine is that, being raised Catholic, Jesus suffering looms large in my faith so watching it depicted feels different.

That said, and while I count "Passion" as one of the greatest movies I have ever seen, I have watched it just once.

And I own the DVD.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

KRS... yeah Christian films are getting better -- more winsome in their Gospel presentation and more sophisticated.

I had the opportunity to have luch with Ralph Winters (producer of the X-Men films) and some of the earlier Star Trek films among others last Spring. He is a very devout Christian and actively seeks out scripts that, while not overtly Christian, portray a very Judeo-Christian worldview.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Very true. When a film is pushing ideology first and story second, or when the story maker is so anxious about it that they keep hitting you in the face with it, people tune out. A lot of religious movies are like that and so are a lot of leftist films.

There are some good leftist films, but just as often they are just obnoxious.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, How about using your connections to get "Commentarama The Movie" made? Just kidding... no such script... not yet. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, I don't anything about Sailor as I've never been to the site before.

But if the quotes are legit, then it really does cast a hugely different light on both films. I'm just surprised no one in Hollywood seems to have picked this up?

K said...

Floyd: I thought Paths of Glory was nuanced as well, until I recently re-watched it. You can't get less nuanced than a general who's willing to kill off his men in what he clearly knows is an impossible battle, just for a promotion. I mean the French leadership were pretty obnoxious in WWI but that's kinda over the top, don't you think?

K said...

If there's a Commentarama movie, I want to be played by Brent Spiner, reprising his role as Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence day.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

In 1916 there was a near mutiny in the French Army because of company-wide executions, etc. Rolling barrages were part of the drill... all drama is somewhat dressed up for dramatic effect of course, but I imagine there have been instances where a whack general has committed some such act. Cream isn't the only thing that rises to the top.

John Johnson said...

It strikes me though, how even leftists don't notice they are being picked on as well. Look at what Hollywood is belittling:

- Whites
- [white] Christianity
- Atheists (which I am)
- Unspecified Slavic/Balkan 'terrorist'
- Republicans are stupid/devils
- Libertarians are lost souls

And so forth. Yet a large part of the leftist public are Atheist! They laugh at Family Guy when teh show makes fun of Christians or Republicans, but do not see that the only outspoken Atheist is a sexually frustrated alcohol addicted DOG!

How much of a hint does one need?

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd and K, My understanding of WWI history aligns with Floyd. The French (and the British) were sending their troops out with the idea that their "elan" would carry the day against machine guns. They really believed it and kept doing it long after it should have been obvious they were just getting their soldiers killed by the tens of thousands. And when the soldiers mutinied, they started shooting them as cowards until the general staff gave in to their demands.

Paths of Glory falls in that period and I suspect the General is a lot like what you would have found. As I see the film, he believed the plan would work and that he would be rewarded for his courage in pushing through this plan despite knowing it would kill many of his own men. Basically, he thinks he'll get rewarded for the sacrifice. When it doesn't work and they get masacred, then he goes into denial by blaming "cowards" rather than himself. That's pretty typical of human nature.

And the picking of men at random is something that has happened as far back as at least the Roman army. The term "decimate" has its origins from killing every tenth soldier as punishment.

AndrewPrice said...

John, In my experience, the left judges things like humor based on who is telling it more than where it hits. To the extent it hits their own causes, they overlook it or take it for "good natured ribbing." But the same joke told by an "unapproved source" would be considered a personal attack and an outrage worthy of banishment.

K said...

he believed the plan would work

That's what I originally thought, but the general specifically and forcefully tells his superior that capturing the objective is impossible. Only after his superior hints at promotion does he change his mind. My suspension of disbelief doesn't extend that far unless the general is mad, but that possibility isn't set up prior to that point, he's just vain and a glory hog.

I think this reflects Kubrick's low opinion of the military, as rather brutally displayed in "Dr. Strangelove". (It's even worse in Kubrick's early script btw.)

AndrewPrice said...

K, I never had a problem with Dr. Strangelove because it's farce. You aren't supposed to see any of them as representative of the real thing.

That said, Full Metal Jacket felt very anti-military to me.

El Gordo said...

Andrew, Strangelove is a farce but that doesn´t make it ineffective as liberal propaganda, which it is also. If the wannabe hip people in the audience had not accepted it as a version of the truth, the movie would have failed. And what do you think the young people in, say, France, made of it? In the cold war, the Soviets could not have gotten more if they had paid for it.

Crazy, stupid, repressed American military males with itchy trigger fingers soon became a standard movie convention.

It is a brilliant movie. Kubrick knew what he was doing. It was genius to use the construction and visuals of a gritty, realistic thriller, where you are almost forced to root for the bomber crew to make it ... but it is also a load of moral equivalence hippie crap.

For Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick used a similar trick. Why would someone go to extreme lengths to make every last detail authentic but then use as his source the writings of an unbalanced weirdo, Gustav Hasford?

I used to be a HUGE Kubrick fan until about 15 years ago. I thought was the great artist of our time. Now I see him as a great photographer whose work leaves me cold. Despite his great talent and intelligence, he basically made technical exercizes in genre filmmaking, one every five years on average.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, I don't think Strangelove really worked as propaganda except that it fit in with the dozens (soon to be hundreds) of other films that made the same point only seriously. On its own, this is just a silly comedy with obviously unreal characters. It's the volume that mattered in this case.

On Kubrick, I used to be a huge fan as well, but I'm not anymore. His films leave me cold -- uninteresting, unsympathetic characters, generic totally-square framing, plots that aren't that shocking by rely on shock, incomplete and unworkable thoughts passing as depth, etc. He's had some good visuals and some memorable moments, but I don't rate him very highly anymore.

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