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September 1st, 2014

Elysium

They say that the wealth divide between the rich and the poor is wider than ever.

 

I don’t know if that is true, but it is certainly true that the physical divide between rich and poor is wider than ever.

 

In the first half of the 20th Century, rich and poor lived together in the same city; they just lived in different neighborhoods.

 

The proliferation of cars and commuter trains gave rich people a new choice. In the second half of the 20th Century, the wealthy fled the crime and chaos of the city and moved to the suburbs.

 

The most extreme example of this phenomenon is Detroit, Michigan.

 

The rich people of Detroit are as safe and comfortable as ever, living in posh suburbs like Royal Oak and Grosse Pointe.

 

As the well-to-do folks fled, life got worse and worse for those who stayed in the city. Public servants are there to serve the people who pay their salary. So without rich people, Detroit became one of the most crime-ridden cities in America. And now it’s bankrupt.

 

Lately, rich folks have found a way to distance themselves even further from the masses: moving into exclusive gated communities. Not only do they live apart from poor people, poor people aren’t even allowed to legally enter without special permission.

 

It makes you wonder what’s next. Maybe “Elysium.” “Elysium” is a dystopian fantasy about the future of rich/poor relations.

 

It is 2154, and the entire earth has become Detroit. Crime is epidemic. The few that are fortunate enough to have jobs work in dangerous blue collar factories.

 

All of the rich people have left the planet and reside in a giant, luxurious space station called Elysium. They live in idyllic white estates and have access to amazing futuristic medical devices. And they pay Jodie Foster to stop at nothing to make sure that no one from earth is allowed in.

 

Matt Damon plays Max, one of the unfortunate residents of earth. After an industrial accident leaves him desperately in need of Elysium-quality health care, Max becomes part of an ambitious criminal plot. He plans on breaking into Elysium, getting cured, and then overriding the computer system so that everyone can become residents of Elysium.

 

It sounds kind of neat, but it is just the set up for an hour of dumb, loud action scenes.

 

“Elysium” is not as good as I was expecting. You’re better off saving your $10 and putting it toward the down payment for a house in one of those new gated communities.

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