Neil Blomkamp's Elysium is an action-packed shoot 'em up driven by deliberately overt sociopolitical concerns and plenty of visually-satisfying thrills. The sci-fi actioner crash lands on Ultra HD with an impressive 4K video and Dolby Atmos presentation. With a new set of bonuses, the overall package is Highly Recommended.
Neil Blomkamp would never be accused of being a subtle storyteller. But then again, there is nothing in his oeuvre to suggest he ever aspired for such recognition, and his Elysium makes this fairly evident. The sci-fi actioner is, ultimately, a straightforward shoot 'em up, popcorn fable set in a far-future Los Angeles where social inequality is far more salient and undeniable. Many of the same sociopolitical concerns of the 21st Century not only remain a rampant problem but have actually worsened to the point where the wealthiest 1% live free of the world's anxieties on a halo-like space habitat orbiting the Earth, called Elysium.
Matt Damon stars as Max, a parolee dying of radiation poisoning and fighting to be smuggled into Elysium to take advantage of their advanced high-tech healthcare system. Alice Braga, Diego Luna and Wagner Moura also star as mentoring allies in Max's journey to becoming a working-class hero while Jodie Foster battles to maintain the status quo by any means necessary, and Sharlto Copley is her archetypal henchmen violently enforcing her vision. The fight for a better, more equitable and socially just future, a theme plainly worn as a badge of honor and feels all the more relevant today, erupts on-screen at a neck-break pace and packed with plenty of visual thrills, culminating in a satisfying conclusion.
For a more in-depth take on the film, check out our review of the 2013 Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Neil Blomkamp's Elysium to Ultra HD as a two-disc combo pack with a Digital Copy code. When redeeming said code via sonypictures.com/MAredeem or MoviesAnywhere, users are granted access to the 4K digital version in Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos audio. The UHD100 disc sits comfortably on the panel opposite a Region Free BD50 copy of the movie. Both are housed in the standard black keepcase with a shiny cardboard slipcover. At startup, viewers are directly taken to a static screen with the usual menu options along the bottom while music plays in the background.
The sci-fi actioner migrates to Ultra HD equipped with an outstanding HEVC H.265 encode, delivering a notable upgrade from its Blu-ray predecessor. Coming from a 4K digital intermediate, the HDR10 presentation lands with excellent contrast and brightness balance, delivering cleaner, more vivid whites throughout and making the many exterior action sequences really pop from the screen. Specular highlights enjoy a significant boost, supplying a crisper, narrower glow to the scorching sun, a realistic twinkle on various metallic surfaces and a tighter brilliance in the monitor screens and the sparks from weapons. Meanwhile, the 2160p picture is consistently showered in rich, ebony blacks and velvety, pitch-black shadows while maintaining excellent visibility in the darkest, murkest corners of the 2.39:1 image.
Also, the native 4K transfer remains faithful to the CG-heavy, highly-stylized aesthetic intended by the filmmakers, which showcases a more dreary and dour design with lots of sickly yellows and earthy browns in the L.A. scenes. On the other hand, the Elysian residents enjoy a steelier blue and saintly white palette that gives the enormous space habitat a sterilized, immaculate appeal, which is where the HDR10 presentation bursts with lively greens, animated reds and a few full-bodied pastels. All the while, facial complexions appear healthy and more accurate with a bit of peachy-rosiness around the cheeks.
Coming from a mix of footage that's locked at 1080p HD resolution, the overall presentation is notably sharper with cleaner, more distinct lines in the stage design, the vehicles and in a majority of the CG visuals. Close-ups of the cast can be extraordinarily revealing, exposing every pore, wrinkle and minor blemish while the tiniest hair and whisker is detailed. However, there are several instances of noticeable aliasing along some of the sharpest edges of buildings and some mild flickering in the high-tech monitors of the Elysians. Ignoring that, the movie makes for an awesome upgrade to 4K UHD. (HDR10 Video Rating: 90/100)
Blomkamp's socially-conscious epic also crash lands into home theaters with a highly-satisfying and wildly-entertaining Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
The movie begins somewhat front-heavy with much of the attention giving to the flashback relationship of Max and Frey. But once in the story proper, imaging widens with lots of background activity that convincingly moves between three front channels and into the top heights, creating a highly-engaging and broad half-dome soundstage. The mid-range displays outstanding clarity and definition with notable acoustical detailing in the musical score and during the many loud, action-packed sequences.
All the while, dialogue remains intelligible and well-prioritized throughout. The low-end provides a hefty, palpable oomph to the visuals, and there are several wall-rattling moments that dig into the ultra-low depths and within the 10Hz range, sure to test one's subwoofer capabilities (bass chart). The design also comes packing plenty of activity in the rears and height channels. Spaceships fly across the room with ease, chaos erupts aboard Elysium with the blaring of alarms all around, and debris darts in every direction, surrounding the listening area with panic. It never reaches the sort of hemispheric environ compared to some of the best available, but the mix nonetheless satisfies and does well at generating an amusingly immersive soundfield. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 94/100)
The Ultra HD edition of Elysium arrives with the same set of supplements available on the Blu-ray disc while the UHD comes with a new, exclusive collection of bonus material.
Ultra HD Disc
A straightforward shoot 'em up tale driven by deliberately overt yet nonetheless important sociopolitical concerns, Neil Blomkamp's Elysium is an action-packed, visually thrilling ride. Almost ten years later, the sci-fi actioner remains a fun popcorn piece of entertainment thanks to a strong ensemble cast, amazing visuals and a plot that feels all the more relevant today. Blomkamp's socially-conscious saga crash lands on Ultra HD with an outstanding 4K HDR10 video presentation and a highly-satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack, delivering a notable upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart. With a new set of bonuses for this UHD edition, the overall package is highly recommended.