Friday, 28 August 2009

Mini Review - 'District 9'

There is not very much to say about ‘District 9’ that has not be already said.
I could waffle on and on about it feeling fresh and original, but of course it is not. What the film does is use many various forms of film styles to depict a horrendous part of human history.
The film is disguised as a simple sci-fi actioner, but the guise is so thinly veiled that you would have to be an idiot not to know the inspiration for this story even if you do not know all specifics.
There are few faults with the film (the villains are slightly cartoonish), but these faults hardly matter when you take a step back and look at the experience of watching this movie, and how it leaves you afterwards (the person I saw the film with was speechless for a while, and immediately got his laptop out and started reading about the source and inspiration for the film.)

There three things that stand out for me.

1 – Director Neill Blomkamp wonderfully takes a documentary style approach mixed with traditional camera work to convey a feeling of history. What this does is serve both the ‘fantasy story’ and the directors actual agenda of shining a light on Apartheid mixed with various other human to human atrocities (Hitler's Germany and the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during World War II) to the viewers. After watching the film I wanted to know more about the infamous District 6 and what went on there, and so will many other people. Blomkamp forces us to educate ourselves by first entertaining.

2 – Sharlto Copley is simply awards worthy as Wikus. He has never appeared in a feature film before as an actor, yet he handles Wikus' transformation from over-confident nerd to shattered man astonishingly. The one scene where he is forced to use the aliens weaponry is heart breaking.
It is even more mind boggling to learn that almost all of his dialogue was improvised, a tough enough feat for any actor, yet alone a novice. I will be extremely happy if the rest of this year showcases another male performance as good as this.

3 – Apparently this film was made for one fifth of the entire marketing budget for ‘G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra’.
It does not show.
Every frame feels 100% organic and believable. The aliens, even in their strangeness, never seem fake or silly (take note George Lucas).
Here is hoping this at least gets the FX Oscar nomination. It makes one wonder how these overblown budgets for FX filled films actually get so outrageous.

I urge you all to see this movie, then go and spend some time researching the inspiration for this film. Even though it is science fiction, you know every act of human cruelty and hatred comes from a place of fact.
The best film I have seen this year, by far.

Grade - A-

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