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Latest Movie Review

District 9(2009)

Not what I expected, but good stuff


A great movie that will surprise all who venture to watch it. It is a sci-fi drama that is filmed for a general audience. Movie goers of all breeds will be able to enjoy this film due to its innovative filming style and its very accessible story. Do not go in expecting two hours of alien action and deep science fiction concepts, this is a movie about a very serious human issue as told through the use of xenophobia. See it at your earliest convinience! Period.


Sigh. You know studio execs are kicking themselves in the rear right now after denying Blomkamp the opportunity to direct the 'Halo' movie. Neill has achieved in his film debut what many directors will fail to achieve in a lifetime of filmmaking. He has made a movie that will blow the panties off of any movie goer. Action fan or no action fan, sci-fi fan or realism fan, drama fan or comedy fan. The only audience that may miss their mark with this movie are the romance fans; but there are enough waste of time movies for them to watch that they don’t matter. If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, "District 9" was fantastic.

The plot

"District 9" takes place in a contemporary South Africa that is much like our own South Africa, with one important difference – an alien mothership descended over Johannesburg 28 years ago and promptly broke down, stranding more than a million crustacean like aliens on Earth.
After being rerouted to earth, a group of ‘worker’ aliens settle in Africa. Being feared and misunderstood by humans, they are put into a ghetto, where the insect-like alien race is mistreated. Worse yet, behind the scenes, the race is being subjected to experiments by the human race to better understand the aliens and how to use their weapon technology. After 20 years of habitation, the aliens are ready to leave earth and go home. With the help of Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley)--an agent of the MNU, an organization that regualtes the alien situation--this might be possible. But will the aliens have enough time to blast off before the military catches wind of the plan?
Another version of the plot can be found in history, as it is roughly based on the apartheid situation in South Africa.
Apartheid Conflict

Reasons to see it

The animation! I don’t even need to mention the special effects of this film. People have already been talking up Blokamp since his name was put on the movie. Though he has really only done commercials before "District 9", his seamless integration of CGI with reality was already legend. So suffice it to say that the special effects are great in this film.

The filming style. A large portion of the film is shot as a mock-documentary. For those who are skeptical and are scared by the "Cloverfield" incident, please note that this style is nothing like that. It is well done and innovative. The reason this film fails to be a standard sci-fi thriller is because it feels so real. With the aforementioned animation, and the gritty feel of watching this on the history channel, it’s only my knowledge that this stuff does not exist that prevents me from believing it as real. The realism of it all sucks the audience in and makes us not only care about the alien conflict as if it was ‘Hotel Rawanda’ but make us angry at our own race for the mistreatment of a species we can’t really identify with. Well done, sir.

Which brings me to my next point. This movie obviously has the potential to be ‘preachy’, after all it is based on the apartheid situation. But let me assure you, Neill succeeds again. With his elegant direction style, you never really feel the preach. He doesn’t insult the audience by telling us that there is a message here. He simply conveys what seems to be a true story about a conflict, and allows the audience to pull out whatever messages they feel. And I assure you, you will pull some messages from this movie, which just adds to its substance and value.

The action. Wow. Though a large part of the movie is development of the conflict and characters, there is a decent portion of the movie that is dedicated to not-over-the-top action. Let me tell you now, you will be stunned. The visual effects, the innovative technology, and the sound will have you at the edge of your seat. Though the action isn’t on the level of the 'Matrix', it doesn’t have to be. With the realistic tone of the movie and the convincing illusions that it is real, a simple gun shot into the grass wil have you saying 'holy sh!t'. After all, if you saw a gun shot in real life, that’s what you would say. So amplify that simple gunshot into a 30 minute sequence of alien weapon fire, and I promise you will be stunned.

Speaking of the alien weapons. Can I get another 'wow'! Though any gamer who plays first person shooters will recognize some of the weapon concepts, actually seeing them on screen and in action in a realistic setting is phenomenal. Actually, as the weapons are the biggest surprise in the movie and one of the most enjoyable aspects, I will say nothing further about them. See the movie for yourself and be blown away.

A final note to make, is that with the first time director comes the first time actors of this film, all who give outstanding performances. My hat is off to the cast of newbies, especially Sharlto Copley, who plays both our protagonist and antagonist.

The Negatives

This movie has a lot of depth and the story could be told over the course of four hours (and if Jackson had his way, it might have been). But since the film is fit into a succinct two hour time slot, there are a few things that felt rushed. Some character development and some conflict development to be specific. Do they take away from the movie? Not even close. But if I can’t step back and nitpick at things, people will never respect my opinion as being unbiased.

Probably the worst aspect of the movie is the prospect of a 'District 9' sequel. Though the movie does not blatantly end with, ‘see you next year’, there is a big enough window left open such that any money hungry studio could pull something out of it. Would I love another 'District 9'? Yes. Have I lost complete faith in Hollywood’s ability to make sequels? Yes.

In summary…

A must see of the summer. I will even be so bold as to say that it is the first actually good blockbuster that we have had this summer (500 hundred days of summer does not count as a blockbuster).
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