Monday, August 24, 2009

District 9

Who went into this film with high expectations? Honestly, if you haven't seen this film, your expectations are just not enough. In fact, for a science-fiction film, District 9 will simply exceed your expectations. This means that Neill Bloomkamp's gem - which was shot with a budget of $30 million - gives credibility to the genre of science-fiction the same way 28 Days Later does it to zombie films.


In the 1980s, a spaceship arrives above Johannesburg, South Africa. The South African authorities soon discover that the ship was transporting malnourished and sick aliens who are called as "prawns" (a reference to the sea creature they look like). Because of that the situation, the government segregates the aliens by putting them into a slum known as District 9. Two decades later, people are fed up with the coexistence between humans and aliens. Therefore, they demand actions from the South African government.


This is when Multi-National United (MNU), a private corporation, sends a task force led by Wikkus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to move the aliens in a district located 240 km away from Johannesburg. However, things go awry because Wikkus had accidentally soaked himself with an alien substance found in a flask during a raid on a prawn's house. Aside from that, the relocation of the aliens into another district turns out to be harder than the people of MNU had planned.


The least we can say is that District 9 is an entertaining film provided that you have enough patience to endure the beginning. For your information, the film is shot like a documentary accompanied with interviews almost in the same style of Frost/Nixon (and add to that video and news footages). Therefore, right from the beginning, Bloomkamp manages to immerse us into the film's reality with a style close to cinéma vérité even though the film is not a historical drama. However, once the film gets past the introduction act, its pace becomes excruciatingly slow when we witness the eviction operation led by the MNU against the aliens. After all, it's easy to think that nothing interesting will happen afterwards because the eviction operation is longer than it had to be in the execution of the story.

However, when the film reaches its climax, things start to become interesting. Besides, the slow pace following the beginning turns out to be a minor annoyance. In fact, with its succession of explosions, District 9's second half can appeal to both people who are in for entertainment and those who are looking for a smart film. In fact, the CGI and the action scenes are so bad ass. Other than that, for a summer blockbuster, District 9 raises deep moral questions because of the parallel with the apartheid, which lasted from 1946 to 1994. As someone who plays a man with prejudice against aliens, Sharlto Copley delivers a brilliant performance. However, I'll stick to that, because I don't want to give away too many details about the plot.

Finally, District 9 might leave a bitter taste in your mouth because of the story's slow execution. Nonetheless, if we leave that detail aside, it's hard to hide our desire to see the next film directed by Neill Bloomkamp. Of course, I didn't go see this film because of the viral marketing (that's what happens when you don't read the movie section in the newspapers).

Rating: 4/5



Origin:South Africa/New Zealand (2009)
Length:112 minute
Genre:Science-fiction
Screenplay:Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Director:Neill Blomkamp
Starring:Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood and Mandla Gaduka


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