Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Review: "District 9"

"District 9" delivers what "Cloverfield" tried to last year minus the nausea. This alien sci-fi is like a kick-ass YouTube clip that deserves many hits.

The story takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa where an Alien spaceship rests hovered over the city for the passed two decades. Why they are there? Doesn't matter. Alien invasion movies have been made since the 1950's so we get the concept of extraterrestrials coming down to pay us a visit. 

In this mothership, they discover an entire society of aliens that are in bad shape physically, so they designate a certain portion of the city where these cricket-like aliens may be housed and nurtured. This area is called district 9.

We are then introduced to our "hero" of sorts, Wikus Van De Merwe, played by South African television producer Sharlto Copley in his first acting role. Wikus is hired to lead the charge in transporting the 1.8 million aliens in district 9 to the new district 10. Then things go terribly wrong for him when he stumbles upon an alien-engineered specimen that does damage to him biologically.

I thought this film had a lot of genuine textures that really brought out a new, realistic angle to the alien invasion film. The first twenty minutes of the film is shot documantary style with "experts" as well as village people talking about the alien craft that has shaded their town for so long. They managed to pull some nice performances from the village people (haha, the village people) that really gave the film it's texture. The hand-held style wasn't jarring or unnecessary. It worked! And the aliens walking around didn't look cheesy. I couldn't tell if any of them were puppets or if they all were digital. I'm gonna have to look that up. And the transition between the documentary-style introduction to the "actual movie" portion of the film was seamless, which I liked.

I found the direction of the lead character, Wikus to be interesting. Copley's comic, almost douchebaggy portrayal of this character reminded me of the lead character in 2004's "Kung Fu Hustle" where he is sort of like the cowardly idiot who you would never expect to actually care for by the end of the film. That could either be a weakness or a strength as it does offer a new take of what a "hero" is. He or she doesn't always have to be the good-looking, smooth-talking person who we all wish we were. We all have faults and there's always room for redemption.

The only other negative thing I would say about this film is that I found it difficult to fully sympathize with the alien characters. I mean, I did like the little boy alien in the film. He was cute, I guess.

But all in all, "District 9" did it right. I think that director Neill Blomkamp has introduced a new style of filmmaking that is worth looking out for in the future.

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