Elysium (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 12-Dec-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sci-Fi Action Featurette-Visions of 2154
Deleted Scenes-Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up
Featurette-Making Of-The Journey to Elysium
Featurette-Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium
Featurette-The Technology of 2154
Featurette-In Support of the Story:The Visual Effects of Elysium
Featurette-Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky
Trailer-x 5 for other films
More…-Ultraviolet redemption code.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 109:35
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Neill Blomkamp
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Matt Damon
Jody Foster
Alice Braga
William Fichter
Wagner Moura
Sharlto Copley
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Ryan Amon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Finnish
Italian
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In 2154 the Earth has become a slum, overcrowded and polluted, where disease is rife and people struggle to survive while being controlled by police andriods who maintain order with an arbitrary iron fist. The wealthy have fled the Earth to an orbiting space station, Elysium, where they live a privileged lifestyle amid lakes, trees and grass, where the air is clean and the availability of free advanced medical technology means that serious diseases and injuries can easily be cured. Not surprisingly, many of those left behind on Earth attempt to enter the Elysium illegally and it is the role of the Secretary of Defence Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) to protect Elysium from illegals, even if it means destroying their ships and killing humans.

     On Earth, Max (Matt Damon) is an orphan who had been raised by nuns in LA. He has been in trouble with the police and is currently on parole. When he was young his best friend was Frey (Alice Braga) but he had lost contact with her when she moved out of the orphanage. Max runs into her again after he is injured by the police; she is now a nurse but has a young daughter who is dying of leukaemia. While her daughter can be cured easily in Elysium, there is no cure available on Earth.

     Max is one of the lucky ones; he has a job in the factory run by John Carlyle (William Fichter) which makes all the police robots as well as running the security systems on Elysium. Carlyle is anxious to have his company’s contract renewed and when he visits Delacourt on Elysium she has a proposition: she is disgusted with the weak willed liberal attitudes of the President and cabinet and intends to stage a coup if Carlyle can reprogram and boot the security systems. He agrees and returns to Earth to do the re-programing; it will be uploaded into a special chip in his brain for transport to Elysium.

     In the factory making the robots profit is far more important than worker safety and an industrial accident exposes Max to a lethal dose of radiation leaving him only 5 days to live. Treatment is not available in LA, but of course it is on the space station so Max approaches people smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium. But Spider has a price: Max must be genetically enhanced with an exo skeleton and join the team that will bring down the shuttle taking Carlyle into space. Once they are successful, Max will link with Carlyle’s brain via cable and steal the data. Max agrees and the shuttle is brought down, but Delacourt activates black ops psychopath Kruger (Sharlto Copley) on Earth to intervene. Max successfully obtains the data from Carlyle’s brain but in the firefight Carlyle is killed. On the run, Max must somehow evade Kruger and try to trade the data for a trip to Elysium.

     Elysium is South African writer / director Neill Blomkamp’s follow up to the impressive District 9 (2009), albeit with a hugely bigger budget and Hollywood stars. Like District 9, Elysium carries a strong social and political message, this time about haves and have nots and illegal immigration, that some have found heavy handed. This is an important debate but Elysium cloaks the message in a sci-fi setting, but the setting could easily be the US / Mexico border, or indeed any border to Australia’s north. Certainly, the film has been criticised by those who hold xenophobic views, but even critics concede that Elysium looks great and has intense action sequences.

     Elysium effortlessly establishes two very different worlds. One is the pristine modern “Bel Air” in space of Elysium with its lawns, trees, water features and pristine mansions but the film spends most of its running time amid the gritty shanty towns of Earth with the dirt, rubbish, dust and grime of a society and a world gone to seed. The action scenes on Earth occur amid swirling clouds of dust and debris filmed with hand held cameras and the violence is in your face, brutal and chaotic. CGI is used, but it is limited in favour of wire work and actors, and even the CGI futuristic flying vehicle of Kruger was first filmed using a helicopter, flown very low as shown in the extra features, to create realistic dust patterns. Matt Damon has shown he can do these realistic and brutal fight roles in the Bourne films and here he is equally effective although Sharlto Copley as the psychotic mercenary Kruger is the standout. Perhaps the main let down is Jodie Forster: she is an excellent actor but as the ruthless Delacourt she does not ring true. It may not be all her fault, however, as the part feels underwritten and she suffers a rather quick and lame demise.

     There has been a number of impressive science fiction films released recently, such as Oblivion and Upside Down, that are full of ideas and have beautiful visuals. Elysium is not as complex as Oblivion but it does have far more of a political message which is, however, cloaked in spectacular visuals and brutal and explosive action which means that the film delivers as pure sci-fi entertainment, whatever one may think about the message.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Elysium is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The film looks stunning, depicting two very different worlds. The dusty, dirty streets and decrepit buildings and dwellings of a polluted LA are beautifully contrasted with the clean and well cared for mansions and landscapes on Elysium, while the metallic white and grey of the interiors of the space station look impressive and real, including little splashes of colour such as the red metal robots. Both close up and wide shot detail throughout is crisp and sharp, with the grime of the Earth streets and the blood on Damon’s face finely detailed. The blacks of space were solid, shadow detail perfect. Contrast and brightness are consistent, skin tones fine.

     I did not see any artefacts at all.

     Subtitles are available English, English for the hearing impaired, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. During the film white English subtitles automatically translate sections of Spanish and French dialogue.

     A beautiful print that will enhance your enjoyment of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio choices are English DTS-MA HD 7.1, Italian and Spanish DTS-MA HD 5.1, English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 plus English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio description.

     Unfortunately I only have a 5.1 speaker set up so cannot evaluate the 7.1, but even so the audio of Elysium is fabulous, although dialogue is not always clear in the LA scenes due to accents. Elysium provides the normal loud and aggressive audio during action scenes with engines, gunfire, debris, explosions and ricochets all around the sound stage with plenty of panning effects, giving an excellent enveloping feel. The score is also an ever-present. The subwoofer added a bass rumble to the roar of flying craft engines, explosions, gunfire and the music.

     The score by Ryan Amon is suitably stirring and did its job without being memorable.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The audio track is excellent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The extras are numerous and interesting.

Visions of 2154 (19:59)

     This is an interesting concept but the execution is chunky. It is a slideshow of photos, 3-D models, progressive visual effects, sketches and film footage that advances automatically while the film music plays. However, it is broken up into two sections – Elysium and Earth - and in each section are 5 subsections that each must be selected individually. Total running time is just under 20 minutes, so the sections average 2 minutes each; a play all option would have been useful.

Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up (1:45)

     More of Kruger as he wakes up after being healed. I can see why it was cut down.

The Journey to Elysium

     This making of is divided into three sections. It includes concept drawings and artwork, behind the scenes footage, plus sound bites from many people involved in the production, including director / writer Neill Blomkamp, producers, production designer, make up effects supervisor, special effects co-ordinator, prosthetics make up supervisor, editor and sound designer. This featurette is done well and worth watching; it shows some interesting footage and is not padded out with film footage. There is a play all option or each section can be selected individually.

     The sections are:

    Envisioning Elysium (8:46): Development of the script from concept artwork, the social ideas, finding locations and set design.

    Capturing Elysium (26:31): Constructing the sets, video diary footage of the shoot, behind the scenes on some of the stunts, make up effects and the different filming techniques to differentiate Earth from Elysium.

    Enhancing Elysium (10:31): Post production on the film concentrating upon the editing, sound design and music. Includes comments from composer Ryan Amon.

Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium (13:18)

     Comments about the film’s casting from the director and producer, behind the scenes footage and insights from cast Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley about working with each other.

The Technology of 2154 (10:13)

     Concept artwork and the design and building by Weta Workshop of some of the equipment used in the film, including the androids, exo skeletons and weapons. Additional comments by Richard Taylor of Weta and three Weta designers.

In Support of the Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium (10:34)

     How and where CGI was used in the film including Kruger’s “The Raven” flying vehicle, the androids and the gritty used looking space craft. There are a number of before and after comparisons plus extra comments from Peter Muyers (visual effects supervisor), Tyruben Ellingson (conceptual designer) and Andrew Chapman (CG supervisor) among others.

Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky (11:43)

     The design and development of the Elysium space station from concept sketches to film with a lot of before and after comparisons. Additional comments from Syd Mead (conceptual artist).

Trailers

     Trailers for Blu-ray promotion (2:21), White House Down (1:46), Captain Phillips (2:32), 2 Guns (2:00) and Cold Comes the Night (1:36).

     Elysium comes with an Ultraviolet redemption code.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Blu-ray releases of Elysium in all regions are the same except for some language and subtitle options. Buy local.

Summary

     Elysium has far more of a political message than most recent science fiction thrillers but the message is cloaked in spectacular visuals and explosive action which means that the film delivers as pure sci-fi entertainment so will be worth a look by anyone interested in the genre or fans of Matt Damon.

     The video and audio are superb. The extras are genuine and interesting, really lacking only an audio commentary. The result is an exceptional Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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