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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Neill Blomkamp
Cast:
Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner
Writing Credits:
Neill Blomkamp

Synopsis:
In the year 2159 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.

Box Office:
Budget
$115 million.
Opening Weekend
$29.807 million on 3284 screens.
Domestic Gross
$93.050 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.401/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 12/17/2013

Bonus:
• “Collaboration: Crafting the Performances” Featurette
• “Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky” Featurette
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Elysium (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 17, 2013)

Back in 2009, director Neill Blomkamp made a big splash with the Oscar-nominated sci-fi flick District 9. Four years later, he returns with another effort in the genre, the futuristic adventure Elysium.

By the end of the 21st century, the Earth became a disease-ridden, overpopulated mess, so the richest of the rich fled the planet and set up camp on a space station paradise called Elysium. While they enjoy life in luxury, the not-so-fortunate remain on Earth and fight to survive with their meager resources.

Young Max Da Costa (Maxwell Perry Cotton) dreams of going to Elysium with his semi-girlfriend Frey (Valentina Giron). Fast-forward a few decades to Max as an adult (Matt Damon) and we see him struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. Eager to put an extensive history of criminal behavior behind him, Max gets a factory job that may literally be the death of him.

That’s because an on-the-job mishap leaves him irradiated with a terminal disease. If Max can make it up to Elysium, he can use their medical facilities to cure himself, but this requires cooperation with a shadowy black market. Max does whatever he must to get to Elysium – and he also tries to take Frey (Alice Braga) with her to help his old friend’s ailing daughter Matilda (Emma Tremblay).

Back with District 9, Blomkamp delivered a less than subtle political/sociological allegory. That was the weakest aspect of the film, as its attempts to reflect on class, status and bigotry became ham-fisted and simplistic.

Expect similar material from Elysium. Like District 9, this one comes with an incredible lack of subtlety, as it barely attempts to flesh out its characters, especially those who live on Elysium. The movie lets us know they're rich and beautiful and they want those dirty, smelly earth residents to stay far, far away.

They might as well have called Elysium "1 Percentland" and renamed Earth “OccupyWorld”. C'mon - the poor people speak Spanish and the rich speak French? The folks on Elysium need monocles and top hats to complete the image. Again, given Blomkamp’s first film, the simplistic nature of the commentary doesn’t surprise, but it disappoints, as it turns a potentially interesting story into cheap allegory.

This leaves us with an inconsistent movie with occasional pleasures but not much more. No, it’s not bad, but it’s predictable and obvious. While it boasts a solid cast, none of them do much with their roles, and Jodie Foster turns in arguably the worst performance of her career. She plays an Elysium administrator who adopts an “at any cost” approach to the protection of the space station. She’s a good actor but she shows no clue whatsoever what she wants to do with the role; she appears lost, and her "where the hell is she from?" accent becomes an active distraction.

Visually, Elysium suffers from a weird mishmash of photographic styles. It feels like the director and the DP constantly tried out new styles and couldn't decide which one they liked.

This stems more from the form of camerawork than anything else - ie, it jumps from handheld to first-person to more traditional cinematography at the drop of a hat. I think the look of the film is fairly consistent - within environments, that is, as Elysium looks very different than Earth, of course - but the camerawork hops all over the place and seems without any real logic.

That was another echo of the film’s predecessor, as I thought the same was true in District 9: it began with a documentary feel but that came and went without logic. I guess Blomkamp just chooses what he wants at any given moment and doesn't care if it makes sense.

Ultimately, I still can’t call Elysium a bad movie, as like D9, it musters enough action and excitement to keep us with it. Unfortunately, Blomkamp’s cheap, lazy attempts at social commentary again harm the final product and leave this as an inconsistent product.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

Elysium appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not great, the image was mostly fine given the limitations of SD-DVD.

Sharpness varied a bit. Much of the movie came across as reasonably defined and concise, but a few exceptions occurred, as the film occasionally looked somewhat soft and tentative. Still, most of it seemed fairly tight. No substantial jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. No problems with source flaws caused distractions, as the movie remained free from defects.

With a subdued palette at work, not many dynamic colors cropped up in Elysium. The Elysium material offered some pop, but the Earth segments tended to be arid and restrained. Within those parameters, the colors were decent. Blacks remained acceptably dense, and shadows were clear and smooth. This was a “B” presentation.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Elysium, it worked pretty well. While the soundfield didn’t go nuts throughout the whole movie, it kicked into action well when it mattered. During quieter scenes, the mix boasted good environmental material, and more active sequences delivered fine immersion and punch. The latter provided the muscle that we expected and used the five speakers in an involving manner.

Overall, audio quality appeared good. Speech came across as distinct and well represented. Music presented good dynamics via the score; the music was tight and full. Effects came across as accurate and firm, with clean highs and deep bass. The soundtrack fell short of greatness, but it mostly served the film well.

Two featurettes accompany the DVD. Collaboration: Crafting the Performances runs 13 minutes, 18 seconds and offers comments from wriiter/director Neill Blomkamp, associate producer Victoria Burkhart, producer Simon Kinberg, and actors Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Sharlto Copley. As expected, “Collaboration” looks at characters, cast and performances. We get a smattering of useful details but not a lot of depth in this decent but unexceptional piece.

In the 11-minute, 42-second Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky, we hear from Blomkamp, Kinberg, conceptual artist Syd Mead, production designer Philip Ivey, CG supervisor Andrew Chapman, visual effects supervisor Peter Muyzers, and visual effects producer Shawn Walsh. They discuss set and production design. We get a good mix of notes here along with interesting elements such as concept art to make this a quality featurette.

The disc opens with ads for Oldboy, The Monuments Men and Captain Phillips. Previews adds promos for American Hustle, Helix Season 1 and Bad Country. No trailer for Elysium> shows up here.

If Neill Blomkamp ever decides to simply make an action-adventure without pretensions of social importance, he’d probably do well for himself. However, as was the case with District 9, Elysium loses points due to its brain-dead attempts at political commentary; those take a potentially enjoyable film and make it a ham-fisted bore at times. The DVD delivers generally good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. If you liked District 9, you’ll probably enjoy Elysium, but expect it to suffer from similar drawbacks.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1666 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main