Elysium (4K Blu-ray Review)

Neill Blomkamp really struck a chord with District 9. It was an interesting, funny and thought provoking take on current world and equality issues.  Sometimes, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, the film evoked some savage reality even in a Sci-fi realm.  Elysium followed in 2013.  Not carrying over the humor, the District 9formula is once again used, but differently. Did Blomkamp bite off more than he could chew? Was branching off from Peter Jackson a help or a hindrance.  I weigh in below on what could be yet another reference disc from Sony. Click the link at the end to order your copy, and if you feel so inclined, let me know what you think of the film!


The first paragraph to this review is a direct quote from my colleague Gerard Iribe’s review of Elysium on Blu-ray. Thank you to Gerard for his exceptional writing, too good for me to even try to top.

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, a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

Max (Matt Damon) lives on earth in 2154.  Earth now is a wasteland, where the lower class struggles to keep jobs, keep life moving forward and to even just live peacefully.  Elysium, a man-made space station not far from Earth is the place where everyone wants to go.  Clean air, immaculate homes and perfect weather await.  Max works a dead end job around far too much radiation and struggles to keep his superiors happy, or to sustain much happiness for himself. Max grew up an orphan, speaking both English and Spanish and seeing life through the eyes of the wise nuns who raised him.  Max of course grew up the hard way, stealing and committing other crimes to make ends meet.  Now, just trying to be a functioning adult in a terribly realized future world, Max dreams of moving off Earth and up to Elysium. But that’s more than tough.  Elysium is for the elite, and Max and his childhood sweetheart Frey (Alice Braga) will stop at nothing to get themselves there.

Of course, it sounds easy enough, but as with most things in movies is full of insane challenges. One is Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) who rules over immigration from Earth to Elysium.  It’s the wish of the inhabitants and especially Delacourt herself to keep Elysium for the rich and the powerful, while the working class and the poor rot away on an planet getting worse every day.  Delacourt often is aided by Kruger (Sharlto Copley) a ruthless military merc who will do anything to keep those “undesireables” away from the new “promised land.” There’s also John Carlyle (William Fichner) whom is a corporate puppet, whom leaves Max for dead after a horrific accident.

With time running out on his own life, Max calls on old friends to help him get off planet, and reconnects with Frey and her daughter, who hope to get to Elysium to cure the daughter’s leukemia in a next generation MedBay. With their rag-tag crew assembled, Max and Frey make way to their new home, but not without first going through hell to get there.

Science Fiction is often a genre of many amazing ideas.  Some are more successful than others, and still even the most divisive of films often have their fans.  Gerard who wrote the amazing synopsis above wasn’t as keen on Elysium as I was.  Having watched the film several times before, sitting down to check out this 4K edition was still a treat.  The film is fun and fast paced, but also challenging and at times frustrating. There are a few plot holes and a few stunted character arcs too.  Matt Damon does Matt Damon which is always nice, but I don’t think I’ve seen Jodie Foster play a character as lazily as she embodies Delacourt here.  As a fan of Foster, admittedly I’m still a little let down by her work here.  Alice Braga brings great emotion to her role as Frey, who wants only to have her little girl live a long life.  Sharlto Copley though, is a beast of a villain.  Watching him, one wishes for his demise, his collapse or his downfall every moment he is on screen.

Neill Blomkamp so far has still not been able to top District 9 though.  While the concept and execution of Elysium are still better than average to me, I think that the film falls short on a few points.  I still find myself enjoying this film 8 years after my first viewing but do wish it could’ve been carried out just a little better in general.  I do think though that if you love a good futuristic thriller, this one definitely fits the bill.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/DetailElysium hits 4K Blu-ray with another reference quality transfer from Sony. Colors pop, effects still look great and there is a pin-sharp look to much of the proceedings.  Detail is exceptional in the scenes on Earth and off Earth and faces, wardrobe, interiors and exteriors all get a huge uptick in detail from the standard Blu-ray

Depth:  The look of the film depth wise is very rich.  Scenes off planet have some real interesting 3D pop to them, while the murky, ugly earth scenes look great all dirty and dingy.

Black Levels: Blacks are the kind of quality that I wish accompanied all HD or 4K transfers. Pure perfection!

Color Reproduction: Color palette for the film has always been strong, but is all the more stronger with the pronounced sharpness of the 4K transfer.  Blues are steely and cool, and the dirt and grime on earth are nice and brown and green. Reds when on screen pop and so do some seriously gorgeous sunny day shots.

Flesh Tones: Natural on the humans, shiny on the droids.  Flesh tones look perfect throughout with no facial features or skin tones looking off at all.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), Catalan: Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1,French: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1,Korean: Dolby Digital 2.0, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Ukrainian: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

DynamicsElysium comes to the new format with a killer Dolby Atmos track.  Surrounds and Height channels go on and on without a lull.  Bass is deep to the core. Dialogue is also note perfect.  There is no fault to be heard in this new amazing mix.

Height: There is a 360* element to the sound design of Elysium. On either Earth or Elysium, the height speakers are used to capture the essence of each environment, enveloping the listener.  This is how a lot of Atmos mixes should be, but unfortunately aren’t.

Low Frequency Extension: BOOM goes the Atmos track. Not a dull moment for any home theater sub in this mix.  Spaceships, explosions, car engines, plane engines, gunfire and more keep your woofer working throughout the film!

Surround Sound Presentation:  Score, crowd noise, and machinery sound effects all make their presence felt in the lower surround channels.  Just like the heights, you are consistently enveloped in the sounds of whatever is going on on-screen. Excellent work on the surround channels!

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is perfectly represented here.


Elysium arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray with a wealth of extras for the deep dive film fan.  The disc also comes with a bundled Blu-ray and Code and the standard, flimsy, fragile Sony issue slipcover.

4K Disc extras:

  • Exoskeletons, Explosions, and the Action Choreography of Elysium(HD – 29:48)
  • The Hero, The Psychopath, and the Characters of Elysium(HD – 6:15)
  • The Art of the Elysium Miniatures(HD – 4:40)
  • Bugatti 2154(HD – 4:50)
  • Theatrical Trailer 1(HD – 2:13)
  • Theatrical Trailer 2(HD – 2:32)
  • International Trailer(HD – 3:43)

The Blu-ray Disc includes even more features, and a couple of the ones mentioned above:

  • Visions of 2154 Interactive Gallery(HD – 19:59 in all)
  • Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up(HD – 1:45)
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 1 – Envisioning Elysium(HD – 8:46)
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 2 – Capturing Elysium(HD – 26:31)
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 3 – Enhancing Elysium(HD – 10:31)
  • Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium(HD – 13:18)
  • The Technology of 2154(HD – 10:13)
  • In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium(HD – 10:34)
  • Engineering Utopia: A Society in the Sky(HD – 11:43)


Elysium won’t sit up high on anybody’s top list of Sci-Fi films.  That being said, the film is at times dazzling, dizzying and a wonderfully good time.  If you’re able to gloss over the shortcomings and the occasional wooden acting from some of the players, there is a reward to watching the film.  The new 4K UHD Blu-ray is a reference grade title, and for those who like big Atmos tracks and gorgeous pristine picture, this one is a must for your UHD library!


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