Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 9 (2009) 8/10


20 years after aliens first arrive, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a weak, simple minded, up-and-comer, is tasked with serving eviction notices to the several million aliens, as a massive government supported move is being put into place, he sees this as his big break. Things start off going as planned until suddenly Wikus accidently shoots himself in the face with a form of alien fuel. Soon after Wikus' body makes some startling changes, and he begins a slow morph into an alien! Now on the run from his company who wants to harvest, and study, him he must team up with the aliens in order to save both them, and himself from total disaster.

District 9 is an intriguing film to say the least. Shot in multiple manners, ranging from a Documentary setup used primarily in the beginning, and final minutes, to a straight action, Michael Bay-esque, style towards the middle and later half. Using entirely unknowns Neill Blomkamp crafts a fun and exciting tale, riddled with thought provoking political undertones, and heart stopping action scenes. Those who enjoy slower, more technical, films will find themselves giddy over the first 30-45minutes with the film's time taking approach to setting up the events. While those more fascinated with action will be pumped up by the movie's final hour long action sequence, as no more than about 5 minutes is given of a break once it starts going.

That's not to say the movie's approach necessarily works as well as it should have. The first half spends a bit too much time on the events taking place, not all of it seeming really necessary, and there more for style purposes than anything. While the second half is so over the top action packed it runs along at a mind numbing pace, leaving much open to viewers debate. In order to counter the writing effort, Neill Blomkamp puts forward a style that can be best invisioned as Blood Diamond meets Transformers. The end resulting being a far better film than those references would lead you to believe.

District 9's real strength lies in the creativity of those involved. Shot on only a $30million budget (in contrast to G.I. Joe's $175million budget), Blomkamp and crew create unique special effects, creative story arcs, masked behind generic characters we all know and can easily follow. The core premise is simple, familiar, and it's the crews ingenuity that carries it to the screen so masterfully. Sharlto Copley delivers a masterful performance in his first time on the big screen, as do most of the film's newcomers cast, all who have to deal with very difficult material. The fight scenes are top notch, I would argue better than most big budget films this year, with massive amounts of gore, and by gore I mean a gratuitis amount of people blowing up.

As an expansion of Blomkamp's 2005 short film Alive in Joburg, District 9 does exactly what any summer movie is expected to do... it entertains. There's definitely going to be some strict analysis, and even more strict criticism of the portrayal of certain races of people in the film. Though it could be argued that such races are chosen for no particular reason, and could be easily substituted for any race/people, anywhere. Even then it doesn't take away from what the movie delivers, a great mix of modern genres, in order to make a solid, Summer action film.

Overall District 9 takes all the genre cliches, puts them together, and presents us with the film so many others try to be.

1 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

Good review. Fairly annoyed about the release dates with this - its not out over here in the UK for another month, by which point it'll probably be off screens in the US. That sort of thing just creates the levels of piracy we see here in the UK and elsewhere. Anyway, rant over, I'm looking forward to it!

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