Elysium Blu-ray Review
Director Neill Blomkamp has carved out a niche genre for himself, blending science-fiction with real world political issues. The challenge he faces, of course, is that by trying to balance the line between sci-fi fun and political statement, he’s inevitably going to let down one group or another. Some people will go into ELYSIUM wanting to see Matt Damon in an action sci-fi movie while others are going to want to see what Blomkamp has to say about the economical divide that continues to plague society. I think almost everyone will walk away from ELYSIUM feeling fulfilled, but maybe wanting something more.
The year is 2154 and disease, overpopulation and war have ravaged the world, making it almost uninhabitable. But the richest people (the 1%, I presume) have built a floating world in space called ELYSIUM. On Elysium, there is no war, disease, hunger or anything else that causes life on Earth unbearable. It’s a utopia of sorts and everyone left on Earth has dreams of being able to buy a ticket to escape the confines of their decaying planet. We follow Max (Matt Damon), who is relegated to working in a manufacturing plant to try and get his life on track. But when he gets exposed to a lethal amount of radiation and is told he only has five days to live, he seeks out a way to Elysium, where he can be cured, if only he can get there.
This is about the point when the plot gets a little convoluted. Max has a love interest that has a sick daughter and there’s a ruthless mercenary (Sharlto Copely) that’s trying to stop Max from getting to Elysium. On Elysium, the leader of the defense (Jodie Foster) hatches a plot with a businessman to overthrow the current president, seemingly because he’s not tough enough against illegal immigrants to Elysium.
This is an extremely efficient science-fiction film and everyone does a fantastic job. The issue is that ELYSIUM just isn’t very exciting. Almost from the very beginning, we know where it’s going and if you read anything into the flashbacks of Max as a kid, you knew how it was going to end. As for the political undertones, they’re there in spades, but I’m not so sure Blomkamp actually says anything about the economic divide that’s worth mentioning. Yeah, it’s there and yeah, it sucks for the 99%, but that’s nothing new. I would have liked for ELYSIUM to dive further into the challenges and detriments the divide places on society, or to make a statement about it we haven’t heard before or weren’t expecting.
The action in the film was also efficient, but again, not thrilling. Krueger was almost Terminator-like in his ruthlessness and unstoppable-ness, but I had a hard time feeling the tension and impending doom for Max. Because of the predictability of the film, the action scenes failed to set up much intensity. They were fun and the special effects were impressive, but they didn’t wow me like I wanted.
DISTRICT 9 was one of the best films of the year when it came out in 2009. ELYSIUM is a worthy follow-up, but it lacks some of the charm of DISTRICT 9. The creativity and exploration of deeper themes seem to have been sacrificed for bigger action sequences and more impressive special effects. ELYSIUM will please sci-fi fans and will provide enough excitement to keep audiences interested, but it probably won’t wow anyone, regardless of your motivations for seeing it.
ELYSIUM BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ELYSIUM is presented with a stellar video transfer that ranks up there with one of the best.
Audio: The audio is equally impressive, making this disc near reference quality.
Visions of 2154 (HD): This is an interactive supplement where you can scroll through images, watch some quick behind the scenes featurettes and even read about the film.
Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up (1:44): This is simply a longer version of the scene that appears in the film.
The Journey to Elysium (45:49): This is a decent documentary broken up into three parts, taking you from the story origins to the post-production work done on the film. This is more technical and they shy away from the underlying themes in the film.
Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium (13:17): This is a fluff piece focusing on the performances in the film.
The Technology of 2154 (10:14): Another piece focusing on some of the gadgets and weapons in the film and what they meant.
In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium (10:33): This one deals with the vehicles and the various visual effects in ELYSIUM.
Engineering Utopia: A Society in the Sky (11:42): Finally, this featurette looks at the design and function of the fictional world of ELYSIUM.