Friday, August 21, 2009

District 9 Review

Neill Blomkamp's action/sci-fi mockumentary had a lot of buzz leading up to its release, probably in part to acclaimed director, Peter Jackson's name being all over the ads as the film's producer. The premise was nothing too new, aliens come down to earth, we want their power, etc etc. Yet the delivery is quite a bit different. You may also be a bit surprised as to where the story goes as well... But, did the movie live up to all the hype? Let's find out, shall we?

I'm going to keep this fairly spoiler free, so no worries about that. Anyways, the story starts off with a giant ship of aliens being stranded on Earth, specifically in Johannesburg, South Africa. They are brought down among us and forced to live in slums. Things aren't going well between the aliens and the citizens, so they are to be moved further away from the city. That's where the real story comes into place. The movie follows a man named Wikus who was just promoted and put in charge of the operation to move the aliens. Without spoiling anything, Wikus is a very likable character put into unfortunate situations. His true personality shines through a bit. I'll leave it at that.

Even more interesting is the way that this story is told: in documentary form. This helps you feel a little more connected to the characters and the world, giving a sense of realism, and it's just fun overall. Personally, it reminded me a bit of Cloverfield, which I also liked; it's filmed in a way so that you really feel like you're there in the action, and I think that feeling adds a lot.

A lot of people have asked me about the special effects. Considering that half of the main characters are aliens, I suppose that is a very important topic. The special effects were very good, and overall, believable. They never go overboard, as the special effects are used where they are needed, and it because of this works to the film's advantage.

Now just to clarify for you non-believers, District 9 may be a "fake documentary", but don't let that trick you into thinking that it will be slow and boring. The movie is very action packed, and very violent. Hell, I was even surprised at the content shown. It was really violent, then again, it is an R rated film. I thought it added to the feel and mood of the movie, but I found a few parts were a little hard to watch.

In the end, this is a good summer action film, and a great film overall to end the summer. I enjoyed the ride, and I would see it again for sure. There was humor, it was fast paced, and above all it was interesting. It's all the things I want from a movie, and it was in a very original package to boot. Go out and see this one for sure, it's a real treat.

Overall Score: 8.8/10

What, theirs more? Yes, actually. I chose to separate this from the review since I didn't think this effected my experience with the movie at all, but District 9 was based off a short film of Neill Blomkamp's from 2005, Alive in Joburg, which can be officially watched here. It's fun to see the changes from before and after, and see how things evolved in the four year gap.

They got a central character to focus on, the aliens become more personified, the special effects had an enormous leap, and it just became a whole lot more fleshed out overall. Alive in Joburg is pretty nice, and it obviously made good groundwork for the movie, but if they had continued down the path the short film was on, I don't think the movie would have been nearly as good. The technical evolution is really quite interesting to note though, especially the mech-suit, that made me crack a smile.

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