Elysium (Blu-ray Review)

Elysium - www.whysoblu.comIn 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 Rhodes, 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. 


Elysium - www.whysoblu.com


Elysium is wunderkind Neill Blomkamp’s second feature film behind the very successful and throughout provoking District 9. That film was released four year ago, so it was very exciting to see what the young lad would come up with next. It’s the year 2154 and New Earth is populated with the poor and the sick while the rich and powerful hover over the Earth in their fancy space station called Elysium. Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) is the point woman and rules Elysium with an iron fist. Down on Earth Max (Matt Damon) is just your average ex-con trying to earn himself a living working at the local droid factory.

When Max was a child, he grew up in an orphanage and one of the Sister’s there told him that one day he would do something special for he world, because it would be part of his destiny. He also made friends with a little girl named Frey and promised to take her to Elysium when they grew up. Flashing back to the present, Max is accidentally poisoned in a freak industrial accident and only has five days to live. Max seeks out assistance from the main Kingpin of Los Angeles, Spider (Wagner Moura), who can get Max onto Elysium and into one of those fancy medical bays that can cure anything. This also puts Max in Spider’s pocket, because no one flies to Elysium for free.

Max is given the task of retrieving some data directly from John Carlyle (William Fichtner) who runs and owns the factories that make weapons and the droids that keep the people safe on Elysium and in check down on Earth. John Carlyle also happens to be a citizen of Elysium and therefore is protected. Delacourt sends a military/mercenary named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) after Max and his crew. Elysium turns into a big cat and mouse chase but in epic proportions. Frey, now a grown woman, played by Alice Braga is also in need of Max’s help. Her daughter is dying and can only be saved if she too is taken to one of Elysium’s healing bays.

Elysium - www.whysoblu.com

I will go out and say that Elysium is a beautiful film to look at – it’s definitely style over substance and nothing more. This may have to do with the various plot holes littered throughout the film. Elysium feels like it’s a small part of a bigger story that we’ll never get to see, because those bigger bits that may exist are never foreshadowed or expanded it. The story takes place in Los Angeles but is framed in a way that Los Angeles is all that’s left of planet Earth. What happened to the rest of the states, countries, and continents? Don’t ask me I only work here. Jodi Foster chews up the scenery with this odd accent that it makes me think that she just did it for the paycheck. That’s fine, but her talents are wasted here. Her character is very typical and brings nothing new to the table. She wants power and will do anything to get it. Fine.

Max is obviously the only one who can stop the greater injustices of the world by getting to Elysium and making the wrong things right. I write that last part with a hint of cynicism and not because I have anything against the class disparities that are shown in the film but while I watched Elysium all I could hear was Hooper-X (from Chasing Amy) scream that “why it gotta be a white boy that invokes the holy trilogy?” I’ll try to explain. Max seems to be the only white character that lives in Los Angeles and this New Earth that we are shown, as are all of the minorities. With the exception of President Patel (Faran Tahir) that lives on Elysium, everyone else on that ship is white, rich, and awesome. I understand that Max also speaks Spanish and is covered with patchy gang tattoos, you know, so he can fit in.  If only Max and the world he lives in were delved into a bit deeper I probably would have liked the film a bit more. I also didn’t buy the timeframe of these events from Max getting irradiated to his surgery and implanting of the nifty exo-suit. Never mind that the exo-suit was drilled into his flesh through clothing and what not. The infections would probably have killed him, too. End of rant.

Okay, so here is what I did like about Elysium. The environments were awesome as was the action and brutal violence. The wizards over at WETA Workshop created fully functional exo-suits for Max and Kruger and they were neat to watch move. The weaponry was amazing and it’s about time we see a much more compact version of a rail gun. Sharlto Copley as Kruger was a breath of fresh air and really went over the top. He does not resemble his character from District 9 at all. The Elysium space station was also a sight to behold – the detail on that thing is beyond impressive. Truth be told, I would not be surprised if Elysium gets nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar.

Elysium’s story is nothing special but the visuals are. I do have faith Neill Blomkamp and am anxious for his next project to hit theaters. I hope it doesn’t take another four years before we see his next film in cinemas, though. Keep reading to find out if this Blu-ray cuts the muster.

Elysium - www.whysoblu.com


Elysium is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. There is no denying that Elysium is very pleasing to the eye. Whether you’re on the Elysium station or New Earth, the various textures that are depicted look pretty stellar in high definition. You can feel the grit and the grime in one scene before being transported back to a cool breeze in outer space. The color palette is fantastic when depicting the various environments. Black levels never crush and contrast is rarely boosted. They do mess with it a little but it has nothing to do with the transfer itself – it’s all with regards to that particular scene. Flesh tones look great – everyone on Earth is a nice olive color, even Matt Damon, who looks to be the only Caucasian in New Earth. Sharpness levels are also stable. The picture quality only ever gets slicked out when we’re on the space station but reverses itself when we’re on Earth. It’s a nice little touch and a testament to the reference caliber transfer on the Blu-ray.

Elysium - www.whysoblu.com


Elysium is presented in DTS-HD MA 7.1. I was expecting Elysium to blow away my sound system and it almost succeeded. Elysium sounds great on Blu-ray but it can only be considered near-reference. There are quite a few scenes where you expect there to be some epic bombast design but either the final effect is a subtle “woosh” or they play a music note over the intended effect. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t give the audio score the final push it needs to be a in the DEMO department. It also isn’t a knock to the audio track either. Dialogue is ultra crisp and sharp. Every syllable can be heard and re-heard with no problems. Kruger’s accent may or may not be hard to understand, because he tends to slur a bit, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Bullets zig and zag all over the place and they will leave holes in your surround speakers if you’re not careful. The LFE channel gets a subtle work-out and I do like that they incorporated some synth bass lines into the score, which also give it that sci-fi edge that film like this deserves. The audio on Elysium is excellent and I think you will enjoy it.

Elysium - www.wysoblu.com


Elysium packs in all of the extras and it’s a nifty little set. I am disappointed that there’s no audio commentary or mention of Jodi Foster in any of the supplemental features at all. Must of been contractual or something. The Blu-ray is split off into various section covering pre-production, production, and post-production. Elysium may not be a good film on the surface of it all but it spared no expense to the detail of the master craftsmen involved. All of the armor, eco-suits, weaponry, ammunition, droids, etc., was actually built and is used in the film. The concept artwork by Syd Mead is breathtaking! We do have a visual effects featurette that covers all of CGI work in Elysium and Peter Muyzers (we had a Google Hangout Chat HERE) explains in detail what went on during the various stages of production. The special features on the Elysium Blu-ray are not self-serving or boring. They’re fun and informative and made me a very happy camper. An audio commentary would have pushed this set to a 5-star, but oh well. All of the featurettes and programming are presented in HD.

  • Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium
  • Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky
  • Extended Scene
  • Visions of 2154 – An interactive exploration of the art & design of Elysium 
  • The Journey to Elysium: Envisioning Elysium – Capturing Elysium – Enhancing Elysium 
  • In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium 
  • The Technology of 2154
  • DVD & UltraViolet Digital Copy included

Elysium - www.whysoblu.com


Elysium could have rocked harder than any recent science fiction film since District 9 but didn’t. It’s style over substance and I can’t help to think that the script needed to be developed just a bit more. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, is fantastic. The Blu-ray has great video, sound, and some great special features. Elysium is very much a “turn your brain off” at the door type of film and that’s actually too bad. I wish it wasn’t.
Order Elysium on Blu-ray!
Elysium - www.whysoblu.com

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