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Elysium (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 16, 2013 by  



elysium-a

“Elysium” is a popcorn action film with a fascinating concept of the cultural divide between the rich and the poor.  While it would have been a fascinating concept to explore a more deeper film, “Elysium”  is not a deep film.  It’s more action-driven with beautiful visual effects and production design.  But for what it’s worth, for an action film, I was entertained.  If you are looking for a heavy hitting, sci-fi action film with fantastic picture quality and lossless audio, “Elysium” is recommended

Images courtesy of © 2013 MRC II Distribution Company L.P. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Elysium

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English/French – Audio Description Tracks, Subtitles: English, English, SDH, French, French SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Tri Star/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Strong Bloody Violence and Language Throughout)

Release Date: December 17, 2013

Written and Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Producer: Bill Block, Neill Blomkamp, Simon Kinberg

Executive Producer: Sue Baden-Powell

Associate Producer: Victoria Burkhart

Music by Ryan Amon

Cinematography by Trent Opaloch

Edited by Julian Clarke, Lee Smith

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Philip Ivey

Art Direction by Nancy Anna Brown, Ross Dempster, Don Macaulay, Hania Robledo

Set Decoration by Peter Lando

Costume Design by April Ferry

Starring:

Matt Damon as Max

Jodie Foster as Delacourt

Sharlto Copley as Kruger

Alice Braga as Frey

Diego Luna as Julio

Wagner Moura as Spider

William Fichtner as John Carlyle

Brandon Auret as Drake

Josh Blacker as Crowe

Emma Tremblay as Matilda

Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro

Maxwell Perry Cotton as Young Max

Faran Tahir as President Patel

Adrian Holmes as Manuel

Jared Keeso as Rico

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) will stop at nothing to preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium – but that doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means they can. Max (Matt Damon) agrees to take on a life threatening mission, one that could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

From South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”, “Stargate SG-1”) comes his latest summer blockbuster sci-fi action film “Elysium”.

Starring Jodie Foster (“Silence of the Lambs”, “Panic Room”,”Contact”), Matt Damon (“Good Will Hunting”, “Bourne” films, “Saving Private Ryan”), Sharlto Copley (“District 9”, “The A-Team”, “Oldboy”), Alice Braga (“I Am Legend”, “City of God”, “Predators”), Diego Luna (“Milk”, “The Terminal”, “Y Tu Mambien”), Wagner Moura (“Elite Squad”) and William Fichtner (“The Dark Knight”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Contact”).

The film which was made with a budget of $115 million would go on to make over $286 million in the box office.

And now the Blu-ray+DVD+UltraViolet release will be coming out in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Elysium” is set in 2154, a time when overpopulation and disease has devastated the Earth.  The wealthy went on to create a Stanford torus-style space station known as Elysium miles above Earth, which is home to all wealthy individuals and technology.  The wealthy also have homes that have bed-sized medical Med-Bays to keep them free of disease and injury.

In charge of defending Elysium from any illegal undocumented people is Defense Secretary Delacourt (portrayed by Jodie Foster).

Meanwhile, back on Earth, unlike Elysium which is the home of the rich, the residents are poor and are policed by robots and diseases run rampant.

We are introduced to the past of Max Da Costa and Frey Santiago, two who live in an orphanage on Earth and dream of going to Elysium.  Max makes a promise to Frey that they will go to Elysium and to make money, we see Max involved in theft at a young age, as he tries to save money for him and Frey to go to Elysium.

Fast forward years later and Max (portrayed by Matt Damon) is a former car thief and parolee, who has been given a chance to fix his life working on the assembly line for Armadyne Corporation, the military company that supplies arms and weapons (including robot parts) to Elysium.

Living in the ruins of Los Angeles, his sarcastic with with one of the police robots lands him a broken arm. When he goes to get checked, he comes in contact with Frey Santiago (portrayed by Alice Braga), who is now  a nurse in the hospital.

Excited to see her again, Max hopes to get reacquainted with her and the two decide to meetup for coffee.

While  Max goes to work at Armadyne Corporation, an underground group headed by a hacker named Spider (portrayed by Wagner Moura), tries to send three caravans of illegal immigrants to Elysium to get to a Med-Bay to save their children or themselves from disease or to fix a certain medical condition that can’t be done on Earth.

As Elysium detects the three illegal caravans, Defense Secretary Delacourt calls her operative, Agent C.M. Kruger (portrayed by Sharlto Copley) to fire homing missiles towards the caravan and destroy them.  Kruger manages to destroy two, while one manages to land on Elysium but the people end up being killed or captured for deportation.

Because the loss of life on the caravans, Elysium President Patel (portrayed by Faran Tahir) reprimands her and has Agent Kruger removed from service.  Delacourt tries to explain her method as needed, or else the illegals coming into Elysium will cause bigger problems and that her methods are necessary.

Not thrilled by what transpired, Delacourt contacts Armadyne Corporation owner John Carlyle (portrayed by William Fichtner), who’s company is hurting financially and bargains with him that she can help his company if he does her a favor.  She wants Carlyle to write a program that can override Elysium’s central computer and make her the President of Elysium.  Carlyle ends up creating the program in his office on Earth and uploads it to his brain, encrypting it with a lethal denial program.

Meanwhile on Earth, while Max is working on Armadyne, a pallet is stuck preventing the door from closing.  His boss tells him to fix it or else he will get fired.  When Max goes in and fixes it, the door shuts on him and radiation that is meant for the weapons also get into him and he suffers from radiation poisoning which will kill him in five days.  The robot doctor gives him medication to help with the pain.

With his dreams of going to Elysium now looking as it will never happen, as he goes home in bad shape, his friend Julio (portrayed by Diego Luna) feels that maybe Spider can help him.

Spider agrees to help Max go to Elysium with one condition, he must be implanted with a power exoskeleton, which will give him superhuman strength, but also an implant in his brain that can store data and help Spider see what he sees.  And that he must find a way to steal data from Armadyne CEO John Carlyle.

Seeing this as his only shot of making it happen before he dies, Max receives the implant and he, Julio and a few of Spider’s men begin their plan by shooting down Carlyle’s air vehicle and when it crash lands, steal the information in his brain.

But because Delacourt was having Carlyle tracked, as she was going to meet with him at Elysium, they find out that Max and others have downed Carlyle’s vehicle and are trying to extract data from his brain, data which can incriminate her.  So, Delacourt contacts her sleeper agent, M. Kruger to kill them all and that she will be sending two of his men to assist him.

Will Max be able to get to Elysium with his final few days of life?

VIDEO:

“Elysium” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  It’s important to say that I have a great respect for filmmaker Neill Blomkamp in the fact that his approach to sci-fi filmmaking is different from other companies that have huge budgets.  He tries to create sci-fi films and bring his approach by making things look realistic, futuristic but also to be financially conservative on how the money is used.

So, that means by making sure your main use of sci-fi are used in critical moments to make your film feel modern and real.  So, technically “Elysium” has less high budget shots than other sci-fi-related films.

The devastation as seen in Earth looks very impressive, as does the look of Elysium and making a distinction of colors and look for both Earth and the wealthy space station.  Los Angeles utilizes warmer colors, as the place looks devastated and dirty, while Elysium looks like paradise with blue skies, green trees and grass and white mansions with white interiors.    But colors are vibrant when they need to be, clarity and detail is impressive as well.  Skin tones look natural, closeups show on the faces of the characters show great detail.

The harmony with futuristic CG scenes and the film look fantastic.  No artifacts, banding or any problems with picture quality, “Elysium” looks absolutely fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Elysium” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English/French – Audio Description Tracks. First, let me just say “WOW!”.  This soundtrack is immersive!  From the zip of machine gun bullets, the explosions galore and the airship landing or crashing into a building, it’s a soundtrack that audiophiles can appreciate from an action film. Great use of directional audio from the surround channels and also great LFE.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear and with a winning Blu-ray release with picture quality, “Elysium” delivers with fantastic lossless audio!

Subtitles are in English, English, SDH, French, French SDH, Spanish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Elysium” comes with the following special features:

  • Visions of 2154 – (19:59) Featuring concept art from “Elysium”.
  • Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up – (1:45) An extended scene after Kruger’s surgery.
  • The Journey to Elysium – (45:49) A three part featurette featuring the concept art, production design, post-production challenges and more.
  • Collaboration: Crafting the Performances of Elysium – (13:18) A featurette on the casting for the film.
  • The Technology of 2154 – (10:13) A featurette on the hyper-realistic design ideas for the film.
  • In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium – (10:34) Solving technological problems economically, visual effects for the film and more.
  • Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky – (11:43) Syd Mead’s contributions for the film’s design.

EXTRAS:

“Elysium” comes with a Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet digital copy code of the film.  Also, a slipcover is included.

“Elysium” is an interesting concept from Neill Blomkamp.  What if the wealthy wanted separation from the poor and lived in their own utopia above the Earth?

The fact is that in other countries, there is cultural divide between the wealthy and the poor.  We know that disease and overpopulation is becoming problematic, but magnify these problems and what you get is a chaotic planet.

While “Elysium” for the most part an sci-fi popcorn action thriller, while I marvel at how impressive this film looks and sounds on Blu-ray, the problem with the story is that it’s formulaic and mindless action.

Matt Damon does a great job in playing a protagonist with a criminal past and only a few days to live but being given an exo-skeleton suit to give him superhuman strength as he tries to go to Elysium and make his dream come true.

While “District 9” protagonist Sharlto Copley does play a major part as the psycho sleeper agent, Kruger. His character could have been made much more cunning and ruthless.

While Jodie Foster’s appearance as Secretary Defense Delacourt seemed too short to make any major impact on the film.   And to tell you the truth, I was quite surprised to see Foster appear in this film because her character roles tend to add substance to a pretty significant story.

For “Elysium”, the storyline is not deep.  It’s primarily mindless action, that deals with more of a cat and mouse game between Max and Kruger. That other characters such as Foster’s Delacourt and even Alice Braga’s Frey seeming as if their roles were not as important.  The same with Diego Luna’s Julio who last only several minutes onscreen.

There are also other areas that I found amusic  Max is stabbed, doesn’t have a hospital of surgeons working on him except Frey and he manages to fight with a significant injury.  As if an exo-skeleton has given him healing powers as well.   Of course, one should not be too picky with a popcorn action film and try to delve to far into whether one thing is or isn’t possible.

But as I did enjoy the film, especially its set design and visual effects which were magnificent, the one thing that kept gnawing on me was the lack of any cultural diversity in the station, Elysium.

Everyone that lives on Elysium happen to be Caucasian, everyone left on Earth are everything but Caucasian.  Sure, we have the one Asian guy who works in the medical facility, you have President Patel and I think I saw one Black woman in the background somewhere.  But it’s a pretty bold move for Neill Blomkamp to assume that only people who are white will thrive in the future.

And it’s a topic that has been debated about the film. Is “Elysium” a racist film?  I didn’t think so.  I just think that certain moves to incorporate a more diverse group of people living in “Elysium” would have been a smart idea.

While one can say, Neill Blomkamp is from South Africa, he doesn’t share the same perspectives of political correctness as Americans,  I can understand that. But for an international space station for the wealthy, you would think that the rich from other countries may have been in that space station.

Also, it’s hard to call a film “racist” when the fact is that a lot of people of color have been cast in “Elysium”, unfortunately the majority of them are cast as among the poor.

But aside from the nitpicking, I was entertained by “Elysium” for its fascinating concept and all-out action.

The Blu-ray release of “Elysium” is what videophiles and audiophiles will consider as a reference Blu-ray release and there are a good number of special features that go into the production and post-production of the film.

Overall, “Elysium” is a popcorn action film with a fascinating concept of the cultural divide between the rich and the poor.  While it would have been a fascinating concept to explore a more deeper film, “Elysium”  is not a deep film.  It’s more action-driven with beautiful visual effects and production design.  But for what it’s worth, for an action film, I was entertained.

If you are looking for a heavy hitting, sci-fi action film with fantastic picture quality and lossless audio, “Elysium” is recommended






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