Monday, January 4, 2010

District 9 (2009) - Neill Blomkamp

District 9 (2009)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writers: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope

There are a few reasons I missed District 9 (2009) when it was in theaters. For starters, I have just been really busy for the last few months. Life happens and sometimes real life just has to take precedence over the blog. I know, I know... it sounds blasphemous but it is true.

There is another reason I didn't see though. Honestly, I just wasn't that interested. I love science fiction but get am leery of most modern sci-fi because it tends to emphasize effects over story. On top of that the hype machine put Peter Jackson's name all over it and I am just not a fan his work. I am well aware of the onslaught of negative comments I am about to receive by saying that but it is true... it is also a topic for a whole other blog post. Because of this, I assumed that it would be one of those movies that everyone else would love and I would feel pretty lukewarm about so I just avoided it.

I am really glad that I ended up renting this one though. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. The film actually takes the time to develop a good story with interesting characters. I was surprised by how quickly I found myself caring about the situation that the characters were in. Not only are the characters interesting but the characters manage to change and grow throughout the film in a realistic manor. The major changes that Wikus (Sharlto Copley) goes through (and I don't mean the physical changes) come around iso organically, nothing he does ever seems forced or out of place. His character really manages to learn and change his point of view during the film.

On top of that, the story is well told, interesting and definitely has something to say. I didn't feel that it was beating the audience over the head with its philosophies though. Like any good science fiction the film manages to have something going on under the surface but still manages to be an movie that can be enjoyed on a fun and entertaining level. If you let it, District 9 will leave you with plenty of think about but if you just want a fun sci-fi action flick then it could still be your cup of tea.

The special effects in the film were also extremely effective. The CGI "Prawns" were just as realistic looking as any other CGI I have seen recently. For the most part it didn't even stand out that they were CGI. They were so seamlessly integrated into the film that they looked like real flesh and blood characters. Of course the fact that the characters were written well enough to completely engross you into the film probably helped with not noticing that the characters were CGI.

Now, I know in my review of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) I talked about how I did not enjoy the way the movie mixed the documentary and narrative film making styles however I think this actually worked really well in District 9. I can't think of any real reason for why I liked the style in one film and not the other except that the two styles seemed to intregrate much better in District 9 than they did in Behind the Mask. In Behind the Mask the switch between styles just seemed more jarring and took me out of the film a lot more than it did in District 9. Overall this film managed to pull me in far more than I expected it to and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 8/10

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