I be quick about this: for all the things that were wrong with the plot, the politics, and the sociology of Elysium, I was still excited for space-stations, robots, shuttles, and cyborgs. Seeing these depicted on-screen is always a treat and Blomkamp did a fine job with District 9, heavy-handed moralizing notwithstanding.
Sadly, shaky-cam ruined all the bits I came for.
There was this one bit, potentially a brilliant visual: the bad guy, Krueger, has a force shield, and our hero, Max, has a carbine that fires exploding rounds. When Max fires on Krueger the field shudders and sparks, throwing energy to the sides, and Krueger staggers to hold it steady. Unfortunately, I'm describing what I was able to glean from maybe a half-second of clear filming. That effect could have been an amazing showpiece, framed from above and slowed down, air and energy rippling. Or maybe filmed in "bullet-time" with the POV scooting through ultra-slow action.
Look, the story is trite, the world-building is kind of ridiculous, and the didacticisms were flimsy straw-men that did a disservice to all sides of any arguments. The film has nothing to offer there. The visuals, though... those could have justified the price of the ticket, except the shaky-cam ruined them all. Time and again I leaned in expectantly, and then felt robbed.
Despite the tirade, I'm not putting this movie clear at the bottom of my list for the year. I did enjoy a couple of moments, and while I was certainly disappointed, this wasn't sickeningly offensive like The Lone Ranger was. Elysium comes in at #21 as of this writing.