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Elysium

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Something I've been wondering ever since I heard the premise and saw all the trailers.

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Did they explain in the movie why they didn't just sell the magic health care machines (well, more accurately, set up some machines and rent time on them) to people on Earth? I mean, were they really expensive to make, or require rare elements to run each time, or something?

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Sure, sure, corporate greed and all that, but greed means you want people to give you money, which means you still sell things.

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I think the implication is that people on Earth can't afford even the tiniest fraction of that superscience.

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Haven't seen it though, so I couldn't tell you if that's true.

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If I had to make a guess, the Elysium station is a self-contained economy, and they have no interest in interacting with Earth, even to make money. If they have tech for a post-scarcity existence, why would they bother with the rabble? :)

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The self-sustained economy theory doesn't seem to jibe with the trailer showing supply shuttles still coming up from Earth. If there never was any traffic they wouldn't need security people, they could just shoot down anything that moved.

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Again, without seeing the movie (I have no interest in it because the presentation of the story has destroy all interest in it), I'd say that the people who live on Earth are just too poor to afford it. Yes, they could lower the costs, but given the economic disparity that I've seen just in the trailer, I'd have to guess that they'd be selling their services for pennies on the dollar. If there are resources that are used up when the treatment is given, it might be an unprofitable proposition--any fee prorated for the economic constraints of the patient would be below your costs. That's how I'd write it so that the rejuvenation treatment wouldn't be widely available.

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Can you imagine how much it would suck to know that the materials you are extracting from the Earth through your backbreaking, dangerous, life-shortening labor is going to extend the lives of people who already have excess and luxury you can't imagine? It'd be brutal and great conflict for a story... though not the one they've presented thus far.

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re: 'too poor to afford it' -- still doesn't quite jibe to me. The entire plot of the movie is set up when an Elysium corporation employing people in its sweatshops on Earth throws away a skilled employee's life because they'd rather just let him die than keep a pod around in the corporate infirmary to run serious on-the-job injuries through.

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Which would suggest that the cost to train and replace a new skilled worker is lower than that of 'healing pod: 1 use'. Ask anyone who works in HR: replacing experienced people is not cheap, its a total pain in the ass to take some n00b and spend the time and effort it takes to train him up to where he's finally equalling the output of the guy you lost. Remember, the cost isn't just the direct cost of training time, its also the indirect cost you eat in lowered productivity over time.

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Except that the people on Elysium were using pods every day, for cosmetic treatments and stuff. Which suggests that the per-use cost of a pod is relatively cheap, because if it cost that much to use the pods then even the residents of richville wouldn't fire one up every time they wanted to get rid of a gray hair or a wrinkle. (And remember, by cost we are talking about real cost -- X amount of precious resources consumed or Y amount of skilled labor time required -- because monetary cost is entirely arbitrary to these people.)

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So, yeah, that's part of why I want somebody who's actually seen this movie to tell me if they ever explained anything, because shit just don't add up. The actions of the people in this movie appear to make no economic sense even from the standpoint of Larfleeze-level greed.

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I suspect, given what I've read of the movie, that the message is given priority over any kind of realistic world-building.

Unfortunate, given the timeliness of the message. More attention to detail could really have helped.

Ah well. Might still be good, I guess.

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Chuck, you're assuming that a skilled laborer has more value than most big companies think they have. When labor is plentiful, it's cheap. The sweatshop that collapsed a couple of months ago in Bangladesh was filled with employees who were worried about the building's safety, yet were at work. They were at work because they were told they'd be replaced if they missed work that day. 1100+ people died because if they hadn't been there, they would have replaced those workers, every single one of them.

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Now, when you apply that mentality to Elysium, it's a lot cheaper to replace a skilled worker than utilize a pod for his betterment. He's easily replaced, and you have enough other workers taking up the slack until the new guy is trained that you don't notice the slight drop in productivity. That's a part of why we have such issues with income inequality.

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Perhaps then the Macguffin of this story is part of a "artificial scarcity"? Where while in Elysium where the elite live, there are pods OTC for dirt cheap, but only a very small amount is let out to create a HUGE profit for those producing it. It happens today.

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Of course I've not seen the movie, and it seems, at least from the perspectives of this thread that the message was killed by poor execution?

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True.

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I should withhold my opinion myself, honestly, just thought I'd offer a potential solution to a potential dangling plot-hole.

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The self-sustained economy theory doesn't seem to jibe with the trailer showing supply shuttles still coming up from Earth. If there never was any traffic they wouldn't need security people, they could just shoot down anything that moved.

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Elysium is a self-sustaining orbital habitat. The ships are refugees not supply ships (not really a spoiler since the trailer makes this clear when Delacourt (Foster) orders Krueger (Copley) to shoot them down with a surface-to-orbit missile launcher.

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As for the film itself, I enjoyed it, though it doesn't reach the dizzying heights of District 9. Copley is brilliant but his character is simple less well drawn here, being a brutal badass with little in the way of sympathy or character development (unlike his brilliant turn as a "racist with a heart of gold" in D9).

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The thing that made me most want to see it, and that has indeed stuck with me, is that we are not so far from the tech displayed in the movie. Blompkamp shows us spitting-distance sci-fi, where droids and drones are used for law enforcement and we really have all just become cogs in the bureaucratic milking of humans for resources.

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As much as the early buzz was negative, I've seen Padilla talk in interviews about his upcoming Robocop reboot and it sounds like they are going to be looking at similar themes: drones, corporate power, and the global panopticon.

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My one sentence review: Elysium is a pretty smart movie right up until it becomes a pretty dumb one.

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See, that's the feeling I get from the trailers. Smart concept, idiotic execution.

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My one sentence review: Elysium is a pretty smart movie right up until it becomes a pretty dumb one.

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How far into the movie is the point where it becomes dumb?

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It depends. For me, the central tenet of the movie is it building a world that is a writ-large version of many of our current social ills. The world is polluted, overcrowded, and depersonalized (the police are robots and so is Damon's parole officer, and in a subtle touch the parole officer is an ancient half-working amusement park dummy but the police are highly sophisticated droids, showing you where the money's going.)

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The movie then proceeds to overfocus on one of those ills - lack of universal health care amongst the have-nots. In fairness it does set up that for a lot of people on Earth, this is the "get" - people fly up there and risk getting shot down just for five minutes in a medbay, and Damon's character has good reasons to head up there. But Earth has a lot of problems they specifically set up and then ignore in favor of this and that I never quite came along for. If you're along for the ride on the train for the "Matt Damon needs universal health care" reason, then it doesn't get dumb until the very end, where the movie tries to have a "we solved the problem!" moment that does not work.

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There are other hiccups - character actions that go unexplained, inexplicable reversals of established world logic - but I feel they're just symptoms of the larger themes being muddied unnecessarily.

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