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Sunday, January 3, 2010

District 9 (2009)

To be honest, I'm not really a fan of Science fiction films. I hated "The Matrix" and "The Terminator" series. In fact, the only reason I chose to watch"District 9" over "An Education" was because it has been a while since I've bashed a film. But to my disappointment, I happen to be in great admiration for the film.

Visual effects artist, Neill Blomkamp got his film education not from watching movies but from watching CNN, BBC, NGC and Discovery channel. He employs a cinema verite style in his directorial debut, District 9. There hasn't been a greater breakthrough in recent years. The last I can remember are "American Beauty" in 1999 and "Amores perros" in 2000. Yes, those were the most memorable debuts. But this one although not as great, will be the most memorable debut because it will make me watch films of the Sci-Fi genre, one that is new to me.

A lot of films have released in the past ten years where the narrative is presented as a documentary pieced together from footage, filmed in real time. District 9, however, is incomparable. It doesn't simply abuse the shaky camera, but combines fast cutting technique so that before you judge and appreciate it in the cinematic sense, you get conned, swallowing everything you see. It really is, "Transformers" for the thinker.

Its initial premise isn't very original. Aliens land on earth. For some reason, they choose Johannesburg, South Africa. They come in a spaceship but this time, they're malnourished, so they're harmless. Only, its human beings who are a danger to them. These human beings intend to send them back but love their weapons. So they're kept here and used as lab rats in medical experiments. All of this monitored by MNU, Multinational United. Enters, Wikus van de Merwe, a worker at MNU. He is ordered to give the aliens an eviction notice. Little does he know, that he's the one being evicted.

The only performance I can recollect from District 9 is that of Sharlto Copley, the lead. You see everything that happens in his life. He delivers what is expected from a simpleton who gets exploited. There is a scene in the film where he sees himself on screen being accused of having sexual intercourse with a prawn. On any other occasion, I would've found it hilarious. But Sharlto Copley's performance made me feel pity.

I don't know why, but I think that Neill Blomkamp and James Cameron both engage in bestiality and haven't had enough. In just one month, I've seen two films in which the main character's relationship is with an alien.

Grazing upon themes such as apartheid and Xenophobia, District 9 is a fresh,original and riveting film with high brow visual effects. A definite contender in the best original screenplay and best picture category but sadly, not in the best director.



  1. I certainly don’t blame you for turning your nose up at science fiction movies, but I’m glad that there’s one sci-fi movie that you can genuinely like. I think the reason you ended up liking it is that it felt so REAL and tangible. The fact that it was set on Earth instead in outer space helps a lot. Plus, the VFX wove in so seamlessly even with the supposedly reality-style cameras in the mockumentary parts. You tend to forget that during filming, it was just a guy on stilts wearing a suit covered with dots being picked up by high-tech cameras playing the aliens. Also, Wikus’s struggle when you take out the alien factor of it is very human. It’s not a fight to be human again; it’s a fight to do what’s right, even if it meant sacrifice.


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