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Elysium Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 7 Richard Gallagher

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Posted December 15 2013 - 05:00 PM

Elysium Blu-ray Review

Writer-Director Neill Blomkamp follows up his 2009 hit District 9 with Elysium, another rather pessimistic view of a bleak future. Working with an estimated budget of $115 million, Blomkamp was able to sign Matt Damon and Jodie Foster to head the cast, and no expense was spared in creating very realistic special effects. Throw in an intriguing premise and a couple of worthy villains and the result is an exciting sci-fi adventure which to date has grossed more than $232 million worldwide. It is now available on a beautiful Blu-ray release from Sony. The film's only shortcoming is a somewhat perfunctory script which contains few surprises.


Cover Art


Studio: Sony

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS, Other

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Other

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 49 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet

Standard Blu-ray Case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 12/17/2013

MSRP: $40.99




The Production Rating: 4/5


In the late 21st century Earth was diseased, polluted and vastly overpopulated. Earth's wealthiest inhabitants fled the planet to preserve their way of life.

Writer-Director Neill Blomkamp follows up his 2009 hit District 9 with Elysium, another rather pessimistic view of a bleak future. Working with an estimated budget of $115 million, Blomkamp was able to sign Matt Damon and Jodie Foster to head the cast, and no expense was spared in creating very realistic special effects. Throw in an intriguing premise and a couple of worthy villains and the result is an exciting sci-fi adventure which to date has grossed more than $232 million worldwide. It is now available on a beautiful Blu-ray release from Sony. The film's only shortcoming is a somewhat perfunctory script which contains few surprises.

Los Angeles in the year 2154 has degenerated into a massive slum. Skyscrapers are deserted and overgrown with foliage. Constant smoke sends pollutants into an atmosphere which already has been fouled beyond imagination. The people of Earth - those who have been left behind, that is - eke out livings as best they can. Some years earlier people who could afford it built a fantastic space station called Elysium, where they carved out a paradise of mansions, swimming pools, and freedom from illness. Under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster), they have also taken steps to ensure that the riff-raff on Earth will never set foot on Elysium.

Max (Matt Damon) and Frey (Alice Braga) were raised in a Los Angeles orphanage, where they became fast friends. In a flashback sequence we see that Max is fascinated by Elysium, which is closer to Earth than the moon and which is easy to see in the sky with the naked eye. He makes the unlikely promise to Frey that one day he will take her there. Alas, in the current day Max's prospects for getting to Elysium appear to be nil. He is an ex-convict who is attempting to reform with a menial job repairing Droids. One day, on his way to work, he is hassled by security Droids and his forearm is broken. At the overcrowded hospital he runs into his old friend Frey, who is now a nurse with a sickly child. Back on the job, where workplace safety clearly is not a consideration, he is involved in an industrial accident which leaves him with a condition that cannot be cured on Earth. He knows that his only hope is to get to Elysium, where technology has been developed to instantly cure any illness - technology which is denied to the residents of Earth.

During his days as a criminal Max worked for Spider (Wagner Moura), a computer whiz who has a fleet of spaceships capable of reaching Elysium. The problem is getting through Elysium's defense systems. Nevertheless, Max approaches Spider and offers to do anything if Spider will get him to Elysium. In the meantime there is some intrigue on Elysium. Secretary Delacourt has been feuding with President Patel (Faran Tahir) because of her heavy-handed tactics in preventing immigration and her use of a rogue agent on Earth, Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Delacourt approaches John Carlyle (William Fichtner), a businessman who owns the repair facility in Los Angeles where Max works. Carlyle's business has been experiencing hard times and he needs to renew his contract with Elysium in order to stay in business. Delacourt wants Carlyle to use his own computer expertise to help her stage a coup and set herself up as President of Elysium.

Matt Damon has, of course, established himself as a versatile and exceptional movie star who is comfortable making almost any genre of film. Here he gives a performance which is both sympathetic and energetic. Jodie Foster is fine as the cool and ruthless Delacourt. Sharlto Copley, who had the lead role in District 9, is very effective and menacing as the violent agent Kruger, and Alice Braga is believable as the mother who discovers that her childhood friend Max may be her only hope of getting a cure for her daughter.

Elysium has some obvious political overtones which are relevant today, as it touches on such hot-button issues as income inequality, immigration, pollution, and people who are without access to adequate healthcare. However, the film presents these issues in a matter-of-fact manner and avoids being preachy. The protagonists are primary interested in their own survival, and saving the human race is a secondary consideration for them. While the narrative of Elysium is not quite as compelling as that of District 9, it is another worthy effort by Neil Blomkamp and I expect to see more worthwhile films coming from him in the future.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

Elysium reportedly was shot on Redcode RAW (3.3K) with 35mm prints on Fuji Eterna-CP 3514DI. The Blu-ray transfer (from a 4k scan) is flawless, and it is unlikely that it looked better in theaters. The 2.40:1 1080p image appears to be properly framed. The accurate colors bring out the stark contrast between the gray Earth and the pristine space station. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is fine. As noted in the main review, the special effects are excellent and the shots of Earth from the space station are awesome. The one caveat which I have is that some viewers may not like the jittery hand-held shots which permeate the climactic fight scene. Overall this is an exceptional transfer.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The audio is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA and it is spectacular. Dialogue is primarily delivered via the center channel and it is clear and intelligible. The surround channels are used effectively through the film, particularly in the many scenes involving gunfire, explosions and spaceship crashes.

This Blu-ray also includes audio description tracks in English and French.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

The extras on this Blu-ray release are focused primarily on the technical aspects of the film.

The following extras are Blu-ray exclusives:

1. "Visions of 2154" is an interactive feature which takes a look at the design of the space station.

2. "The Journey to Elysium" is a three-part feature which looks at pre-production, production, and post-production. During the production section the filmmakers and cast members participate.

3. "In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium" is a vivid look about shooting visual effects, the use of CGI, etc.

4. "The Technology of 2154" is a look at the technology which the filmmakers envisioned might be realities in the future.

5. There also is an extended scene in high-definition which I will not discuss here because it occurs at a critical point in the film.

These extras appear on the both the Blu-ray and the DVD:

1. "Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium" has the cast members discussing their roles and how they prepared for their performances.

2. "Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky" takes a look at the design of the space station.

The Blu-ray release also includes a DVD of the film and an UltraViolet code.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Elysium is a fun thrill ride in a largely desolate future which starkly pits the haves against the have-nots. The script does not do complete justice to the fascinating premise, but ultimately the fine cast and the outstanding special effects carry the day.


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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#2 of 7 Adam Gregorich

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Posted December 16 2013 - 07:41 PM

Thanks Rich.  I missed this one in the theaters and have been looking forward toward the Blu-ray.



#3 of 7 schan1269

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Posted December 16 2013 - 08:00 PM

I bet this gives Underworld: Awakening a run in the "best home theater audio demo".

#4 of 7 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted December 16 2013 - 08:00 PM

I have this on my Christmas wishlist as, like Adam, I missed it in the theaters. Here's hoping Father Christmas puts it under the tree.


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#5 of 7 Tina_H_V

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Posted December 18 2013 - 09:42 AM

If I cannot have this one now...I'll add it later to an already-compelling list of offerings for my birthday next year!!!! 


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#6 of 7 Mike Frezon

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Posted December 19 2013 - 07:31 AM

I missed it in the theater, too.  How the heck did it ever gross $232-million if we all missed it?!?  :biggrin:

 

Just picked up my copy and hope to get a chance to see it over the holiday.

 

Thanks, Rich!  Your review has got me very excited to move this to the front of my queue of titles. 


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#7 of 7 Walter Kittel

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Posted December 19 2013 - 07:41 AM

I was pretty excited about this title when I first saw the previews but the reviews kind of scared me away.  As is often the case though, I will reconsider a title when it reaches home video and this is one of those cases.  Looking forward to a first viewing in the coming weeks.

 

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