Friday, January 22, 2010

District 9 - 4.5/5

Sometimes I'm tired of movies that try to beat you over the head with morality tales of woe and dismay. I love to have that depth to a film but sometimes you need to make sure you aren't treating your audience like a group of middle school children. That was my one worry about "District 9". That the social commentary underneath the 'aliens stranded on Earth' storyline would devour the main plot. Luckily, it is not that way and "District 9" scores highly on the modern classic Sci-Fi scale.

When aliens, called 'prawn' in a somewhat derogatory manner in this film due to their insect-like look, become stranded on Earth for reasons unknown, the government steps in to help the species out by giving them a place to stay in the form of 'District 9' perhaps one of the shittiest slums ever built. Our 'hero' of the film, Mr. Wikus, becomes involved when he is sent to 'evict' the aliens in an attempt to move them onto a new set of land outside of city limits to prevent too much human/prawn contact. Of course, what he finds is a dark seedy underbelly of both prawn and human creation that sets into motion an all out war and perhaps ignites hope for both species.

Neil Blomkamp gets his worldwide chance to impress with "District 9" (of course with a little help from having the name Peter Jackson attached in the form of his mentor and/or producer) and impress he does. With a rich story full of heart, tragedy, action, and general awesomeness Neil Blomkamp only has to get it across to the audience with a little finesse. The story could have easily come across as cheesy or far too over the top (the reason for Mr. Wikus' sudden connection with the prawn is played off very seriously and dark when it could have come across almost comedic) but never reaches that point and instead focuses on the human side of emotions which grounds the film and gives it a nice universal touch. Relationships between spouses, father/sons, and unlikely friends make it endearing and frightfully realistic to watch as things begin to spiral out of control in the story. Even the more outrageous elements, like the Nigerian gun smugglers in the camp whom believe eating the aliens give them more power, come across as realistic and a very believable element in the fictional world. Blomkamp balances his visual style and writing beautifully.

I was also taken back by how good the special effects came across. The prawns are both disgusting and very believable in their design and even our main hero prawn, Christopher, in full CGI displays very real and endearing qualities as we struggle with him to fight and escape from his hellish world.

"District 9" is as good as the hype for the film lead me to believe. The acting is superb (even from CGI aliens whom never speak English), the special effects rip roaring, the script deep and tight, the action is addicting, and Blomkamps visual take on the entire thing (borderline documentary-ish) fits altogether in a nice package that will remind you why Science Fiction can be the best form of film out there. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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