Sunday, 27 September 2009

District 9

I have a recurring nightmare where my teeth fall out. This is part of the reason why half an hour into District 9 I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. By the end I was satisfied it was one of the best sci-fi movies I've ever seen.

An alien ship arrives over Johannesburg and the aliens, after failing to intermix with the human population, are relocated to a slum - District 9. Twenty years later they are to be evicted again. Shockingly, the execution of the plan doesn't go exactly to script.

For maximum enjoyment, I recommend seeing this movie with only this information.

District 9 was created on a somewhat low budget but you wouldn't know that by looking at the special effects which blend seemlessly into their environment. The ship is a wonder to behold, the aliens look great even close up, the deaths are spectacularly gory and the weapons have been designed and created with as much care and attention you'd expect to see from a games developer.

It's not just the effects that shine. The story has emotion, drama, thrills, adventure, horror (plenty), scares and even the odd sick laugh. Throw in a few FUCK YES moments and you've got a great. You end up feeling for characters you didn't give a second thought to and the traditional roles of good guys and bad are pretty much fluid. Your assumptions and predictions are happily blown out of the water.

The man in charge of the aliens' (named only colloquially as Prawns) relocation to District 10 is Wikus Van De Merwe, a pencil pusher from MNU. Played fantastically by Sharlto Copley, he's not your traditional protagonist. He's a bureaucrat and a geek but like the best heroes he is transformed (and then some) by the exhillarating if harrowing finale. It's with Wikus that we spend our time and

As surface level entertainment District 9 is golden but if you like your movies a little more thought-provoking of course, the real life parallels are there if you want to take them but aren't shoved in your face to any irritating degree.

The worst thing about the movie was the trailer for New Moon I was forced to endure before it started. Other than that I understand some people don't like jerky handheld camera movements though I have no problem with them myself. The documentary style in which some of the movie is shot in can take a bit of getting used to though it does settle in later.

It is immense fun expecting a quality if run of the mill sci-fi horror and getting something much more. I think District 9 has rocketed alongside some of the greats - Alien and Cloverfield spring immediately to mind. It's a crying shame the Halo movie collapsed as Neill Blomkamp, who was keyed to direct, did such a fantastic job on this gem. I look forward to his next work.

I just hope there are no more teeth moments. I can watch someone explode just fine. Just not the teeth. Please, not the teeth.

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