review template

Starring:Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, William Allen Young

Director:Neill Blomkamp

Writer(s):Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

Cinematography:Trent Opaloch

Original Score: Clinton Shorter

Running Time: 112 Mins.

And so the story goes, that Peter Jackson offered director Neill Blomkamp $30 million to make a film of his choice, having been hired to direct the film based on video game franchise Halo, said film having fallen through after the studio (Universal) got cold feet and refused to pump $200 million into a genre that was not reknown for its huge hits (i.e. the Resident Evil films, which are dire, cost very little to make meaning their return ample as opposed to the budget required to do Halo justice).

So Blomkamp naturally took Jackson’s money and ran, figuratively speaking, the outcome of which is District 9, itself spun off from Blomkamp’s earlier short film Alive in Joburg and starring that short film’s actor Sharlto Copley. The trailer’s market District 9 as an out and out action sci fi yet it is largely “action-free” for the first hour, building up to a very special pay off, but the build up itself is something to cherish despite seeming a little too much like a documentary for my personal tastes, I did come to understand why Blomkamp took this approach and in the end it made perfect sense, turning something I was initally dubious and disliking off into something fabulously original.

Beginning in the faux documentary style we are now accustomed to with films such as Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Projectwe meet Copley’s character Wikus Van De Werve, Wikus is charged with heading up the removal of beings from the titular District 9, a shanty area if you will, to the more regimental and concentration camp-like District 10. That the beings are not human and in fact alien really has little bearing to the political, religeous and indeed human under-tones that Blomkamp imbues his film with. A deeper reading is not really required for all the signs toward apartide are there to be seen, it may all sound a touch on the heavy side but that these beings are alien thrusts us deep into sci-fi territory.

These are not instantly threatening aliens such as Alien or Predator but nor are they cute and E.T.like, somewhere in-between lost without their leader, these are, as the official’s represented in the film believe, simply drones lost on earth without a natural laeder they simply eat cat-food and cause “burden” for human-kind, some hate them, some use them and the MNU desperately want to use their weaponry which is rendered unusable due to it being genetically enabled. “Prawn” is the name their species has been adorned with almost racist-like, and to look at them the reason for the slang is obvious. Wikus is sent to serve the “Prawn’s” with notice to move them to District 10, clearly not wanting to go means that there are scene’s of attempted escape with a wicked sense of black humour displayed that feels almost jarring to the serious alternative reading of the “Prawn’s” plight.

However halfway through the film’s gear shifts and we enter the realm of action sci-fi territory that has been walked a very many times, yet it feels totally fresh, to go into plot specifics would be to deny you of some of the shock and enjoyment (that) District 9holds, suffice to say Blomkamp has clearly drawn his inspiration from sources far and wide, Peter Jackson’s own Bad Tastebeing a clear example and Cronenbourg’s The Fly another, these are not criticism’s for the impact they have within the sphere of the story seem so well thought out and interpreted that they feel totally new. With the final fight, which has a Robocop/Aliensfeel to it, likely to have you shivering with excitement and wondering quite how amazing Blomkamp could have made a Halofilm, owing to the stylisitic similarities you can see that potential franchise channelled here.

The thing that stands out most about District 9though is its representation of the main character, Copley is a tremendous talent and in Wikus he turns a dopey, bumbling unlikable character into a true hero, without seeming cliched, it is when he is paired up with one of the “prawns” that the film is at its best, and for these scenes alone it deserves its place as one of the films of the year and puts the Summer’s biggest blockbusters to shame, yes Michael bay I’m looking at you!

VERDICT

District 9 borrows from a number of sci-fi greats yet feels fantastically like a breath of fresh air in the movie world, Blomkamp and Copley are outstanding in their parts, yet it is in making the “prawns” so human and realistic that the film find’s it’s coup. I for one can’t wait for the inevitable District 10

grade-A-

Advertisements