Another Thursday evening and another midnight screening. This time it was the much talked about District 9. I must say the theatre for this showing was nowhere near full unlike the showings for Transformers 2 and Harry Potter. If you don't end up seeing this movie you do not know what you're missing. That being said, this movie isn't for everyone. If you are not a fan of documentary style film making or mockumentaries then this film may not be your cup of tea. Though part way through the movie it does switch back and fourth between that style of film making and normal film.
First of all we have Peter Jackson stepping up and giving Neil Blomkamp a chance to prove himself as a theatrical movie director. Blomkamp has done a few shorts and some music videos, but no big screen released production. Blomkamp was slated to direct Peter Jackson's production of Halo, a movie based off the popular video game. Halo eventually fell through. Jackson still wanted Blomkamp to direct something. Blomkamp did do a short film called Alive in Joburg. This film deals with an alien race that were stranded in Joburg and being treated as third class citizens. This was the basis for what we see as District 9.
The story of District 9 goes like this. Twenty-eight years ago aliens arrive over Johannesburg. Their mother ship, broken down hovers above in the sky. The MNU, a government and military funded group board the ship to find it full of dying and starving alien beings. These beings are brought down and given shelter in a section labelled District 9. Seeing that these beings can be uncontrollable and the population growing everyday they decide the aliens need to be evicted and setup in camps outside the city limits. Enter in Wikus Van De Merwe played convincingly by Sharlto Copley. He is in charge of a team to deliver these eviction notices to the aliens and explain to them about their new homes being setup. This is Copley's only acting credit and was co-producer on Blomkamp's short file Alive in Joburg. Copley does an amazing job bringing life to Wikus and takes you on a journey through his life. There will be times where you feel for Wikus and other times where you just want the man dead. A very convincing acting job.
The aliens don't seem to take too lightly to these evictions. As further inspection goes, the MNU finds illegal weapons trade going on, prostitution going on and plan to eradicate the alien weaponry that is found. I don't want to go into any more detail about the film because I want those who are going to see the film to be taken in with it and be surprised at the turns and the findings Wikus finds through out the film.
As a first time big screen director Blomkamp does an amazing job, both visually and with the story telling. I am a fan of documentary style film making and that really drew me into the history of the story being told. Neil did a wonderful job at blending CG elements into handy cam video footage in scenes. Everything on screen looks and feels believable, that this is something that really happened. You never get that sense that something doesn't look right, or this or that looks so fake. For the budget that they had(30 million) Blomkamp has made every shot count and the look of the film is just amazing. When you see the aliens, especially in close ups, you get a feeling of sadness for them. Blomkamp is a director to watch because he shows with District 9 that he is very talented. He knows how to tell a story and tell it well. He is also the writer of District 9 as well and has crafted a well planned and in a way believable story.
District 9 I feel could very well be not only the best movie of the summer, but one of the best movies of the year. It's a very stirring movie and shocking in scenes. Some scenes can be very graphic in nature. It will make you go through a range of emotions and takes you on an emotional journey, not only through the lives of the aliens, but through the life of Wilkus. This movie is a definite must see. Yes it is a mockumentary of sorts, yes it is a sci-fi movie, yes it has aliens in it, but I have to agree that Neil Blomkamp and Peter Jackson have given us something that we have not seen before. The movie is a real eye opener and also goes to show that you don't need a 150+ million dollar budget to make an amazing movie, that has a lot of fancy effects.