District 9 Neill Blomkamp

District 9 Neill Blomkamp
District 9 is the coolest movie of the year, and one of the most interesting entries into the sci-fi realm in quite a while, a visceral, exciting and fresh take on some old genre tropes that, while not reinventing the wheel, certainly give it a fresh spin. The concept is vaguely familiar, in an early '80s techno invasion way: a giant spacecraft parks itself over a major city, and its inhabitants are neither a war-mongering attack force (Independence Day), nor a peace-spouting race of beautiful people (V). In fact, it's not first contact that interests District 9 co-writer and director Neill Blomkamp ― it's the aftermath. It's been 25 years since that ship arrived, uniquely over Johannesburg, South Africa, and 1.8 million aliens (derogatorily referred to as prawns) are interred in "camps" on the city's outskirts. Human/alien tensions are at an all-time high, and it's up to middle management bureaucrat Wikus Van De Merwe (first-time actor Sharlto Copley) to oversee the relocation of the alien population to a new "camp" outside the city. This relocation is the sparkplug for a series of events that ― given the South African-set film's context ― take District 9 to a new, metaphorical level that transcends its genre trappings. Not the Blomkamp isn't making a straight-up action movie; he is, quite successfully. The CGI aliens are seamlessly integrated into the film's pseudo-documentary structure, and the hand-held camera work adds a strong vérité feel to the proceedings. The set-up, the filmmaking style, even the aliens and action all feel comfortably familiar to sci-fi fans, but District 9 accomplishes more than that, becoming a clever, unpredictable entry into the field. On this two-disc DVD, the story of District 9 is interesting and well told. Tapped by producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) to make a Halo movie as his first directorial project, Blomkamp had put in nearly two years in New Zealand when Halo collapsed. Jackson immediately helped turn that momentum into District 9, which has its origins in a short Blomkamp had made called Alive In Joburg. (That would have been a wicked-cool DVD extra.) Featurettes look at the personal and physical transformation of Wikus, as well as how Blomkamp encouraged on-set improvisation from all actors, including those standing in for the CGI aliens. All of this heralds Neill Blomkamp as an exciting new directorial voice in a film world that could use a good swift kick from some sci-fi lovers who want to see a fresh take. District 9 is certainly one. Plus: deleted scenes, commentary, more. (Sony)