The Attempted Review of District 9

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 11:45 PM

Neill Blomkamp shot to prominence in the movie world with his Halo short film. Hollywood supremo Peter Jackson soon signed him up to work on the Halo movie Jackson was attached to. Unfortunately that Halo movie has died but what rose out of the ashes was the amazing District 9.

What it's all about... District 9 is loosely based on another short film Blomkamp did called Alive in Jo'burg. The story, which is amazing written and shot, deals with the issue of unwanted refugees but instead of being from a wartorn nation these refugees are from another planet. Arriving 20 years ago they have always been treated with caution and anger with many people wanting them to leave. The aliens were rounded up in to District 9, a shanty town filled with over a million aliens and some optortunistic gangsters. With the mood towards the aliens still generally fearful the MNU, a mercenary organisation, plans to move the aliens to District 10 another refugee camp but over 200kms away from Johnannesburg. This is where we meet Wikus Van De Merwe an agent with the MNU who is incharge of the relocation program. Wikus's fate is intertwined with the aliens after he encounters some new alien biotechnology, developed by alien Christopher Johnson, which begins to mutate his DNA. Soon Wikus is a hot commodity and I really don't want to give much more of the story away because it is so fresh and well crafted that it would be ruined if you read it first.

What it did well... Whilst this is a sci fi film about aliens it is safe to say that you have never seen anything like this. Blomkamp has created a masterful film, easily the best I've seen this year. The visuals are amazing considering the film had no where near the budget of films like Transformers and G.I. Joe. The mech type alien technology is very cool and looks very realistic. The aliens themselves actually feel like real characters not just CGI effects/puppet props as they portray feelings and expression despite looking quite grotesque. The relationship between the alien Christopher and his son is a good one, you can really feel the bond between the two and surprisingly the aliens helped give it a human feel. They way they were misunderstood as mindless creatures makes even more surprising when you find out Christopher is quite intelligent. Also the performance from Sharlto Copley, a relative unknown, who plays Wikus is really good. His performance goes from strength to strength as the film goes on and you feel sorry for the decisions he has to make, as his situation gets more dire. He commands the screen well without feeling over the top or unnoticed and gives the film a good, sympathetic human touch. The shooting style is brilliant mixing hand-held documentary and news footage with traditional cinema techniques to give it the feeling that it's happening right now. The documentary style also brings a lot more depth to the story, filling in history, motivations and ideals behind certain events. The action in the film is superb and not like anything I've ever seen before. It's gritty, graphic and imaginitive leaving you with some jawing dropping moments but it doesn't glorify it or leave you feeling uncomfortable it just leaves you impressed. Also I liked the way that the film presented serious issues without being too preachy. It obviously dealt with the growing refugee and racism issues but dealt with other things like the media and media control (the false stories about Wikus), oprression (continually keeping the aliens down instead of helping them) and capitalism (the MNU trying to profit from the aliens technology).

What it didn't... I couldn't really find much wrong with the film. If I were to be extremly harsh and nit pick then there were two things I thought could have been improved. The soldiers associated with the MNU, especially the Colonel, just seemed like a carbon copy of a soldier from every other action film you've ever seen. I did almost cringe in the scene where he said "I can't believe they pay me to do this, I love killing prawns (derogatory name for the aliens)" or something like that. It was just so cliched but then again the film cannot reimagine everything. Also after Wikus gets infected with the alien biotechnology he continues to act normal, eating lunch and going back to work. As this happens he loses fingernails and emits black liquid from his nose and mouth. Nobody finds this odd and reports him to a medical officer or management official. With MNU being portrayed as this super secretive organisation with cameras everywhere I'm surprised they didn't pick up on it and taking him for observation before he went home to the family party. That being said I didn't not like the scene I just think it could have been removed for something else.

Memorable Moment... The attack on the MNU headquarters in Johannesburg. Up until this point the film had built up immense suspense for the action and confrontation you knew was coming and this results in an explosion of intense action in the so called 'suicide attack' on the headquarters of the MNU. Wikus and Christopher, armed with super powerful alien weaponry unleash a well deserved ass kicking to the MNU starting with a bang, literally, and introducing us to the full lethal power of the alien technology and I guess why the MNU wants to use it. The weapons are just insane, complete obliterating those unfortunate enough to get shot by them. The scene also provides a pivotal moment in the story for both Wikus and Christopher and the blending of intense action with story is really good. A close second is the final shoot out between Wikus and the MNU in District 9, all I'll say is alien walker+pig+gravity gun=someone getting shot with a pig, PIGGED!!!.

What it all means...
District 9 is easily the best film I've seen this year. The mix of action and story is brilliant, resulting in the creation of a mature, thoughtful and human sci fi film that could be praised for it's fresh approach in a similar way to how Star Wars was when it created a spectacularly fun space opera for the whole family over 30 years ago. Some may think that is a false call but to me it created a very mature sci fi film which didn't rely on its action to make it 'mature' and the way it was told, the documentary style, and the way it portrayed the 'other', the aliens, as believable emotional characters was fantastic. District 9 gets 9.5 exploding humans out of 10.



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