06 December 2009

District 9

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope
Grade: A

The film opens and ends with mock interviews setting the scene. We hear the story about the arrival of the aliens in South Africa through excerpts of these interviews. At the same time, our main protagonist is set up. He's a man with a position by the name of Wikus van de Merwe newly promoted to move the aliens out of District 9 and into another location further from the city Johannesburg. Problems arise later in the movie when Wikus is going around evicting aliens from their shack homes.

The plot for the movie could have easily portrayed Wikus as a military captain who has to switch alliances to get help. I like the way the movie plays with that concept better. Wikus was an office man. During his time going around District 9, he inhales a chemical that slowly turns him into an alien. His only hope is the alien that made the chemical -- a smart alien by the name of Christopher Johnson. Wikus and Christopher agree to help each other achieve their goals.

I loved the developing friendship between Wikus and Christopher. The only thing bringing them together was their need for the other's help, but they seem to grow fond of each other as the movie progresses. It really warms my heart. I also like Christopher's son, a curious little alien who wants to go back to the aliens' home planet. That kid is badass. His father taught him how to work alien technology, and it brought good things that made my stomach flip at all the right places. Besides, it's not often you see an entire room of gangs downed in one shot.

The fact that Wikus is played by a no name actor is also amazing. He is a solid actor. His character was great, his screams of pain were legitimate, and I loved the small things he did. When he first boarded the sweet mecha thing, little probes drilled into his forehead. His swearing and head jerkiness during that was legitimate. There was also the plant at the beginning of the movie. His wife tells the camera that he used to make her little random crafts. This is important at the end of the movie in sweet ways.

The entire movie was filmed with a hand-held camera. Which really added to the documentary style of the whole thing. It added to the dusty plains, tan color scheme look. Every once in a while, the characters would refer to the camera. Wikus would push the lens away so he could puke. And a few blood splatters hit the lens, which I liked.

The special effects were AMAZING. That is a trait that I didn't notice until I walked out of the theater. Everything was merged so delicately everything looked legitimate. I had to remind myself a few times that the movie is really science fiction and there isn't a giant piece of land in South Africa that holds 2.5 million aliens. Nothing was clean-cut and pristine, and everything that happened was actually real. Nothing I could pick up on seemed something out of Hollywood.

Go see this movie. It kicks butt.

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