Looks are skin deep

Matt Damon stars in Columbia Pictures' ELYSIUM.
Matt Damon stars in Columbia Pictures' ELYSIUM.
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If looks could kill, Elysium is suicide. Big budget sci-fi flicks are judged against Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, Blade Runner.

Neill Blomkamp, director of District 9, takes up the challenge and wins – the effects are stunning.

Future world cliches go like this: planet Earth has been decimated by alien invasion, irreversible pollution or civil wars.

What remains are two groups, the rich in their protective bubble and the rest, fighting for survival amongst the ruins of a wasted land.

Elysium follows the tram lines.

It is 2154 and the super-wealthy have evacuated to a satellite ring, called Elysium, where millionaire mansions and impossibly green golf courses have been replicated and every house has a health pod in which old fashioned killer diseases, like cancer, are cured in minutes.

Back on Earth, the ordinary people suffer and die without these medical aids and are controlled by cadres of ruthless robocops.

Max and Frey are orphans who grow up to become a car thief and a nurse.

Max’s ambition is to get to Elysium and Frey has a daughter dying of leukemia.

Story check: childhood sweethearts reunite as adults.

How can the sick girl be saved? The health pods.

Where? Elysium.

How to get there? Peep! Peep!! Spoiler alarm!!!

Matt Damon (Max) spends much of the time injured.

He doesn’t act so much as respond to violence.

Jodie Foster (Elysium’s defense minister) purses her lips. She’s the baddie.

Anyone could have played these parts. Star names are irrelevant.

Despite the look, the film fails to engage. Without a plot that stirs the imagination, sci-fi becomes sky pie.