Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Elysium Blu-ray Disc Review

Among my favorite sci-fi action films of the summer was Neill Blomkamp's Elysium. While not the knockout surprise his first feature District 9 turned out to be, Elysium still solidified Blomkamp as a high concept genre filmmaker to watch. The premise has Matt Damon as one of the 99 percent disenfranchised living on a depleted and ruined Earth circa 2154. In this year Los Angeles is depicted as one giant shantytown of endless proportions while high above in a rotating Stanford Torus are the world's one percent living on Elysium. Life there resembles the world's most exclusive suburban neighborhoods. Life expectancy is as near to immortality as one may likely ever get in the mortal world with medbays able to cure cancer, regenerate limbs, even a person's face, with just a passing scanner and a blue light. The medical technology is so advanced it dwarfs even the sickbay aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek. Why the technology in some form is not available to the public despite their awareness of it is never explained because the film is more of a metaphor about class inequality. 

When Damon's character receives a lethal dose of radiation on the job, he agrees to take on a data heist in order to get an illegal trip to Elysium which is the only place he can be cured. After the heist goes bad. He becomes the target of ruthless sleeper agents lead by Sharlto Copley, who plays one of the most memorable over-the-top sociopaths ever to appear on the big screen. Jodi Foster plays the ruthless powerful head of security defending the status quo on Elysium. William Fichtner has a short, but somewhat exaggerated role as a corporate head who conspires with Foster's character to put her in charge of Elysium in return for a two hundred year contract on homeland security for the habitat. His behavior at times seems more robotic than the amazing robots of the film. Through a mix of practical and digital effects by WETA workshop, Elysium features some of the most flawlessly animated and original androids ever created for the big screen. Syd Mead was among the conceptual designers for the film too. Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, and Diego Luna also star in the film.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Elysium with a spot on AVC encoded 1080p HD widescreen presentation taken from a 4K Master and all of the extra value features on this Blu-ray Disc are in full HD too. In addition a standard definition DVD copy of the film as well as a coupon for a limited time only redeemable Ultraviolet HD Digital Copy are within the Blue BD case. English DTS 7.1 High Definition Master Audio as well as 5.1 Surround Soundtracks are provided along with a French DTS-HD MA 5.1 Soundtrack and a Spanish 5.1 Surround Soundtrack is provided as listening options. English and French Language Descriptive Audio Service Tracks and English and French Language Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired are encoded onto the Blu-ray Disc along with English, French, and Spanish Language Subtitles.

Included on both the Blu-ray Disc and DVD are featurettes covering the cast and crew preparations for the film (13:17) and designing the space station for the film (11:43). Exclusive to the Blu-ray Disc are a multi-part documentary (45:49) about the making of the film, a featurette on the visual effects (10:34) and the technology of the film's futuristic world (10:12). An interactive exploration of the film's art and design (19:59) and an extended scene (1:45) are also available as Blu-ray Disc exclusives.

A perfect companion to owning this film on Blu-ray Disc is the sold separately Elysium: The Art Of The Film hardcover coffee table book published by Titan Books. I bought it for myself over the summer and think it is a must own for fans of the film who enjoy books on conceptual art as it applies to filmmaking.

Previews for Old Boy, Monuments Men, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Helix: Season One and Bad Country wrap up the bonus features included on this Blu-ray Disc.

Elysium will debut on Blu-ray Disc on December 17, 2013 at retailers on and offline courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Please Note:
ELYSIUM visual effects supervisor, Peter Muyzer, will be participating in a Google Hangout on Wednesday 12/4 from 10 AM PST – 11AM PST, during which he will discuss the making of the film from a visual effects perspective.  The hangout will be streamed live from the Autodesk University 2013 conference in Las Vegas, “moderated” by Autodesk’s Maurice Patel.  Note: Autodesk is the software program used to create some of the visual effects in the film. 

The hangout can be found here on 12/4 at 10AM PST:http://area.autodesk.com/CAVE2013
Elysium Blu-ray Disc Review (C) Mark Rivera
All Rights Reserved.