District 9 (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray)
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|Contributor||Barry Strydom, Sylvaine Strike, Nick Blake, Peter Jackson, Elizabeth Mkandawie, Jed Brophy, John Summer, Terri Tatchell, Sharlto Copley, Greg Melvill-Smith, Nathalie Boltt, William Allen Young, Jason Cope, Neill Blomkamp See more|
|Runtime||1 hour and 52 minutes|
Thirty years ago, aliens arrive on Earth--not to conquer or give aid, but--to find refuge from their dying planet. Separated from humans in a South African area called District 9, the aliens are managed by Multi-National United, which is unconcerned with the aliens' welfare but will do anything to master their advanced technology. When a company field agent (Sharlto Copley) contracts a mysterious virus that begins to alter his DNA, there is only one place he can hide: District 9.
- Language : English, French
- Package Dimensions : 17 x 13.5 x 1.4 cm; 100 Grams
- Director : Neill Blomkamp
- Media Format : PAL, DVD+Blu-ray
- Run time : 1 hour and 52 minutes
- Release date : 28 October 2020
- Actors : Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, John Summer
- Subtitles: : French, Hindi
- Studio : Sony
- Producers : Peter Jackson
- ASIN : B089TWSD4C
- Country of origin : Australia
- Writers : Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
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As with most such films, there is conflict between humans and the aliens as they attempt to integrate into our culture, albeit within the confines of some rather Nazi-esque compounds where the aliens are kept, and within this there is a very heavy undertone highlighting the often uncomfortable realities of segregation between races when one is in a position of strength/higher power. I think the film does this very well - it doesn't gloss over the horrors of such a reality, but doesn't focus on it so heavily that it forgets to include plenty of humour and entertainment in the film too. With that said, despite often being softened slightly by the fact that its mostly CGI aliens we see being mistreated or killed, it does have some very violent moments with plenty of blood/goo delivered unsparingly to hammer the point home.
The aliens and their technology still look pretty good by today's standards, the story is interesting and delivered in a relatively unique way - enough so that it never feels like its treading old ground - and the brutal assessment of the uglier side of human nature is balanced very well with the wonder of what such futures might exist beyond us.
This is one of very few found-footage/moc-doc style films I have enjoyed from start to finish and not felt that the film has suffered due to this style of shooting, and together with a brilliant (and often comical) performance from Sharlto Copley throughout I find it a really enjoyable and easy film to watch, despite the sometimes heavy undertone.
A sequel seems unlikely after all this time, although would be much appreciated, but fortunately this film has enough going for it to hold a good re-watch factor so is definitely still worth getting as it approaches its 10th birthday.
Unlike most found footage films, the first half hour or so works surprisingly well because this is a richly imagined environment with a lot of fascinating detail to fill in, managing to do it without seeming like pure exposition by contrasting the attitudes of the humans - mostly exploitative - with the violent aliens they barely co-exist with because their cultures are so incompatible. The parallels with South Africa's segregated past are very much to the fore, with the mostly white security forces treating the `prawns' as children who only respond to bribery or force, but rather than opt for the easy bad white guys option, the black South Africans treat them exactly the same way the white South Africans treated them back in the bad old days: they don't want them in their neighborhoods, don't want them taking good jobs that should be theirs, and want them kept in their place. The prejudices, superstitions and the lack of any attempt to understand each other are vividly conveyed with surprising economy and energy as we follow the initial stages of the eviction process, the film mutating along with its hero from mock-doc to chase movie as everyone from his father-in-law to Nigerian gangsters literally wants a piece of him.
Aside from excellent special effects and a wonderful level of cluttered detail, what really sells it is Sharlto Copley's remarkable lead performance, which is a world away from the normal sci-fi hero. He's a bundle of nervous energy as the front office geek who's been promoted beyond his abilities by virtue of marrying the bosses daughter, enjoys his work - aborting alien eggs is a particular source of childish joy - and even after he finds himself becoming one of them remains resolutely self-centred. He doesn't play for sympathy and he doesn't deserve it, yet despite being the kind of character who is usually just throwaway comic relief in most movies he remains a compellingly amoral yet believable centre for all the moral mayhem. Even as the body count mounts in the shoot `em up finale, he remains a credibly pathetic figure driven more by fear than heroism. It's a funny and impressive performance in a darkly funny and often exhilarating bit of smarter than expected scifi.
The extras are better than expected too, with the 22 deleted scenes, mostly from the first third of the film, surprisingly worthwhile. They would have slowed the picture down too much had they been kept in, but they show just how richly the filmmakers developed the social and political background, with an interview with the black American CEO of the security firm cheerfully insisting, Boer style, that the aliens' ship is categorically not their ship and therefore they have no rights to it a particular gem. There's also a three part documentary on the DVD and director's commentary while, as usual, Blu-ray buyers get additional featurettes that are also on the US NTSC two-disc edition and an interactive feature on the central shanty town.
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So, there is a culture clash between humans and stranded aliens, enough weaponry to make CGI worthwhile, a nod in the direction of DNA sequencing, and a cynical attitude to human nature. So that's all good.
District 9 is watchable & entertaining, and, for me, the key question is: will I watch it again? Definitely - so worth it's buying and gets a 4 star rating from me.
Is it thought provoking and philosophical? I suspect Neill Blomkamp (Director) thinks it is - but that's the trouble with philosophy, there's always another philosopher out there who disagrees... in this case; me.
If you are a seeker after truth, look elsewhere. With District 9... go for the goo. Splat.