Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 at 06:00 PM
By: S. Tran
Starring: Sharlto Copely, Louis Minnarr
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp
Running Time: 122 minutes
Great Summer Film
If District 9 is an indication of the skills of director Neill Blomkamp then I'm going to be seeing a lot of his films in the future. The movie is an original, fresh take on the aliens on Earth scenario and is incredibly fun to watch. Combining a great story with amazing effects the movie keeps you glued to the screen for the entire 2 hours.
While it does borrow a bit from the Alien Nation film the resemblances are only skin deep. Once the background story is told in a series of well done mock interviews and news footage reels, the movie picks up the pace and doesn't relent until the credits roll.
The entire film is shot in a combination of documentary style footage and traditional movie shots. Blomkamp manages to splice these different shots together seamlessly to tell the story without losing any important facts along the way.
The entire film is shot on location on South Africa and there is a dusty feel to the entire movie that adds to the creepy factor. This, combined with the great special effects really adds to the experience. You can always tell the effects are good when you find yourself not thinking about them at all. The aliens (called Prawns by the humans) are well done. We've seen variations on the form before but the way they interact with the other actors and the real world sets is amazing.
However, special effects alone can't carry the day and usually in a film with aliens the actors are secondary thoughts. In this case though Copely plays the eager corporate stooge turned reluctant hero named Wickus and puts on a star performance. As a loyal company man he is hilarious. His slightly nervous, geeky character provides a lot of laughs in the first half of the film as he attempts to evict the aliens from their camp, known as District 9.
Later in the film when things get a little more serious his transformation into the reluctant hero is equally effective. When Wickus is forced to team up with an alien named Christopher he becomes a hero, but with a lot of imperfections. Although the evil corporate guys are pretty one dimensional, the story really isn't about them so it doesn't detract too much from the film.
The aliens in the film are also given a bit of personality as well. A tough chore considering they were all CG and they only spoke in their alien language. At times things got a bit too cutesy with the little alien baby, but hey what do I know, maybe that's how aliens would act.
A really good movie for the summer. A cut above the typical dumb Hollywood alien movie. It's not a big film where entire countries get blown up, but there's plenty of good action and some smart writing as well.
4 out of 5 stars.