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Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
For more about Elysium and the Elysium Blu-ray release, see Elysium Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Alice Braga, Sharlto Copley, Wagner Moura
Director: Neill Blomkamp
» See full cast & crew
Elysium Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 14, 2013
The problem with utopia is that it never works in the long run, cannot be sustained, can never be "good enough." No matter how great it may be on the inside, no matter how wonderful it may appear from the outside, there will always be some sort of conflict, conflict coming from the outside or conflict coming from the inside. Someone will always want a bite of the forbidden fruit, want more than the utopia has to offer. It'll never be beautiful enough, it'll never be safe enough, it'll never be prosperous enough, it'll never be far enough from the unruly neighbors, it'll never be close enough to home, somebody will tire of paying for it, someone will want a piece that they didn't work hard enough to earn. That's basic human nature, whether humans want to admit it or not. It may take a very long time, but the time will come when suddenly, for whatever reason, the utopia isn't looking too good. Even in Star Trek, a future world where everyone works for the betterment of society whether they command the starship or repair the replicators that are spitting out slime, basic human emotions and wants remain. Man will more than likely never achieve the logic-driven, passionless state of Vulcans, and would man really want an existence that dull, anyway? Director Neill Blomkamp's (District 9) Elysium tells the story of one such utopia and both the human corruption from within and the want from those outside that ultimately threaten to wash away the glorious façade thanks to man's inseparable ties with power-lust, greed, and selfishness from each perspective. The film tackles its subject in a clandestinely Sci-Fi outer shell but makes rather obvious political overtones inside, overtones that are all over the map, espousing far-right libertarian and far-left-leaning ideals all at once, often feeling rather confused in message, at least in the early going, but nicely covering it up with a wonderfully shiny and exciting action exterior.
Max (Matt Damon) grew up looking to the heavens, but that doesn't mean he looked very far. Rather than distant stars or even the Earth's own moon, he set his gaze upon the largest object in the sky: Elysium, a manmade paradise reserved for the wealthy and the fortunate. They built the station some time before and left behind the overcrowded, resource-dry Earth for a green, clean paradise in the heavens. Max always promised his friend Frey (Alice Braga) that he'd get them to Elysium. Years later, Max is still on Earth, slaving away at a job manufacturing the very law enforcement robots that harass him, injure him, and extend his parole. Frey's life hasn't been much better. She's a doctor but cannot help her sickly daughter Matilda (Emma Tremblay) who could be healed in mere moments with Elysium's radically advanced medical technology. When Max is accidentally irradiated at work, he's given only days to live. His only option is to reach Elysium and its healing bays, a task that's nearly impossible given its fortifications and armaments and the people ready to use them, chief amongst them Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster). Max makes a deal to participate in an information-gathering raid on a high-ranking Elysium citizen named John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to gather intelligence on the heavenly paradise. In exchange, he's offered a forged Elysium identification tag and, therefore, a cure for his ailment. Matters are complicated when a dangerous Elysium sleeper agent named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) is ordered to intercept Max at all costs.
It may not look it, but Elysium (look up the Greek origins of the word to better understand the title and the premise) is probably the most politically charged movie of 2013. It deals in everything from illegal immigration to wealth inequality, from universal health care to the police state. In the film, the privileged class enjoys access to free and immediate health care and luxurious living. Illegal immigrants attempt to escape to their world, often in search of medical treatment, only to be destroyed en route. In the film, the working class on Earth is left to live in the cesspool of the world that was while suffering under the boot of a robotic police force that cannot understand basic human emotion, verbal or physical intent, or basic human rights, punishing those who dare question the system, often with violence. They're also subject to the whims of cold "off worlders" who use them as an expendable labor force meant only to work the lines, not make a living and a life. Director Neill Blomkamp has himself said of the movie that it's not a predictive work but rather a reflection of today's society. The film does what good Science Fiction does, which is replicate the issues of today in the guise of a future setting, dressing it up in a form of entertainment rather than tackle it head-on and really open eyes to the issues, though in Blomkamp's defense that falls more under the purview of the Documentary and less the mass entertainer. Still, agree with Blomkamp's take on the issues or not, the film is sure to stir the political pot more than it simply entertains with gunfire and fisticuffs.
But the gunfire and fisticuffs are nevertheless done very well, as is all of the other glitz and glamour and production values the film has to offer. Elysium is careful not to allow its action to overwhelm the plot. Instead, every gunfight and every action scene flows naturally from the story, a consequence of the drama rather than its driving force. It's very well staged and expertly executed with a precision but also a rawness that together give the movie an edge and compliment the bloody, gritty reality of the world and story, not to mention the mechanical add-ons that superficially aid and shape the characters but not nearly as much as does their underlying humanity, or lack thereof. The film does a fine job of painting its characters in a fairly believable light, creating real people aided by technology and beaten down by their circumstances but showing in them a very real soul and strongly beating heart, no matter for which side they fight or on which world they live. Certainly there are fairly obvious elements of cliché at work, particularly in the Jodie Foster and Alice Braga characters. Even Damon's Max is, to a large extent, the classic reluctant hero type whose life is defined by a distant dream and the forced existence that keeps him from it. Sharlto Copley's Kruger, aside from the obvious play on the name, turns in the film's best performance as a wild, uncontrollable, unpredictable hunter. The cast is supported by terrific visuals, in many ways much the same style as seen in District 9, from the slums to the exploding bodies, from the robots to the flying ships. Nevertheless, it all fits into this world effortlessly and, in a way, beautifully. The effects are seamless which is a critical factor in making the movie as absorbing as it can be, dazzling the audience while keeping the story, not shoddy visuals, first.
Elysium Blu-ray, Video Quality
Elysium features a reference-quality transfer. Sony's "mastered in 4K" presentation looks magnificent in every scene, revealing superb colors and pinpoint details for the duration. The palette pops with regularity. Even in the largely barren, earthen sandy future Los Angeles, the colors take on a very even, natural, lived-in appearance, from clothing to graffiti. Things look even better on Elysium. Green grasses, red robots, and all variety of bold, bright colors sparkle, and distance shots of Earth's blue waters look positively stunning. Darker moments, too, enjoy natural balance, aided a great deal by deep, positive blacks. Flesh tones enjoy a natural shading. Fine detail is terrific. Close-ups of worn-down technology, weapons, skin textures, frayed clothing, dirt terrain, and crumbling structures show very real, very tactile attention to detail. Image clarity is superb in every scene, whether evident in the clean lines of Elysium or the downtrodden Earth locations. The image is impeccably clean and shows no signs of blockiness, banding, or other troublesome elements. This is a terrific image in every regard.
Elysium Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Elysium explodes onto Blu-ray with a powerful yet nuanced DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. As one might rightly expect of a major studio new release of a futuristic Action/Science Fiction film, track dynamics are impeccable, spacing magnificent, and the overall effect one that replicates a theatrical experience down to the lightest note and tiniest bit of ambient support. Musical delivery enjoys even, rich front-side spacing, impeccable clarity through the entire range, balanced surround support, and precision bass. Action effects rightly dominate. Gunfire practically tears apart the soundstage while literally shredding in-movie environments. It's loud, precise, heavy, and both exhilarating and frightening. The rumble of ships, the wallop of explosions, and all variety of chaotic sound effects satisfy in every scene. Light ambience helps define a number of scenes, whether zipping vehicles or the din of a busy factory. Dialogue plays evenly and firmly from the center. This is another winner from Sony.
Elysium Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Elysium contains a strong assortment of interesting and thorough extras.
Elysium Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Elysium isn't so dissimilar from Upside Down, another recent picture depicting two distinct classes of people living in proximity to one another and separated not by artificial boundaries but rather the real dividing line of gravity and the more artificial division of wealth and privilege. That film shapes its tale as a romance while Elysium's action-oriented story tackles a political agenda that's today forefront on every news page, blog, and television news station around the world, and particularly in the United States. It's a rather heavy-handed film, not masking its agenda and sometimes not taking all the truths of utopia and man into account, rather focusing on broad ideals and stereotypes. That doesn't make it a bad film, though. On the contrary, it's quite entertaining and very well made while still a film ripe for further dissection in both the film study and politics classrooms for a number of reasons and with almost no end to the possibilities for analysis. It doesn't capture the same balance between storytelling, social commentary, and action as District 9, but Neill Blomkamp has certainly proven that he knows what he's doing behind the camera. Sony's Blu-ray release of Elysium features reference quality video and audio. A fair assortment of extras are included, but notably absent is a commentary track. Recommended.
Elysium: Other Editions
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Elysium Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Elysium - December 19, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of director Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley and Diego Luna. The acclaimed sci-fi thriller is already available ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: December 17-24 - December 15, 2013
For the week of December 17th, Walt Disney Home Entertainment is bringing the controversial The Lone Ranger to Blu-ray. Other titles include Sony and FX's Justified: Season Four set, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, the riveting thriller Prisoners, and Neill Blomkamp's ...
• Elysium Blu-ray - September 30, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release a combo pack edition of director Neill Blomkamp sci-fi action drama Elysium (2013), starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Sharlto Copley. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the ...
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