Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Movie Doctor: Elysium

The Movie Doctor is a recurring piece I write about what I would do to fix problematic movies.  Of course, nobody asks me to fix their movies, but that's their loss.


Note: the Movie Doctor assumes you've already seen the film.

Patient: Elysium
Elysium is a movie about poverty and death.  In the movie, there are two worlds, the world of Earth, where the poor die from lack of adequate healthcare, and the space station Elysium, where the rich all have their own magical tanning beds (hereafter called MTBs) that do the opposite of real tanning beds by curing cancer.  The rich spend a lot of time and effort keeping the poor from getting access to the MTBs.
Diagnosis: Monster in the Mirror Syndrome

Symptoms: As I tell my students, nobody wakes up and says: "I think I'll do something eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil today!"  Try saying that out loud in a silly voice; you're certain to get a laugh (and free antipsychotic meds).  The point is, everyone thinks they are a good person, even if they do bad things.

The bad guys in Elysium are the rich.  They barely see the poor as human and hardly care about killing defenseless children if it will keep them away from their MTBs.  In one scene, the main character gets terminally injured and the rich factory owner is more worried about having to clean up after him than seeing him helped.

The result is the antagonists in Elysium seem silly and their motivations hazy or insane.

Treatment: Elysium needs to show the rich antagonists acting like the rich do in the real world.  They should be shown saying how they care about the poor, they just think they're doing the best they can to help, what with the poor being so lazy and the world being the way it is.

I suggest the following changes:
  1. Have the rich factory owner meet with the main character after the accident.  He should offer his condolences and then try to pay him to sign something saying he won't sue the company.  He signs the paper, but is furious.
  2. When they attack the rich guy's ship, they should have another confrontation where the rich guy says "but I tried to help you!" before they rip the memories out of his head.
  3. The head bad guy (Jodie Foster) should spout some of the modern arguments against socialized medicine.  "Hey," she should say, "we gave you all MTBs!  You burned them out in a year because you used them so much.  We have a waiting list to use the ones we have up here.  Anyone can get on the list, even though it's a three years' wait.  And, if you weren't so lazy, you'd be rich and up here with us."
That'll be $20 copay.

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