Before I get to my review of District 9, just had to say I'm level 30 again! Praise the lord. Took a while though...
Onto my review
My first reaction after watching District 9 was awe, I couldn't speak and my knees trembled at what I had just seen. I was literally speechless and my friend had to knock at my shoulder to get me out of my seat. The 15 year old kid outside the theater summed it up for me best, 'That movie was, I dunno man, gripping? I can't believe what I just saw'. I'll go with that. District 9 was gripping and it's a film that grabs you from the first moment we meet Wikus Van De Merwe to the last shot of the film. District 9 is easily the best film of the year thus far and it's an example of substance over flair. It's a true testament to director Neill Blomkamp's talent that he was able to make this movie off of a 30,000,000 budget because despite the modesty of the budget, the action, suspense, and thrills within this movie are superior to that of any other action movie this year despite their astronomical budgets (ahem Transformers 2). District 9 is a well acted, thrilling intelligent work with a great message and it's a film that is told so originally that it comes off as a completely fresh experience which is welcome in this day and age of the template summer blockbuster.
District 9 takes place in the year 2010 so esentially it is a science fiction film set in a modern setting which is all too realistic to the world we see everyday. The gist of the plot is that in 1990, an Alien mothership stopped over the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. Anticipating an attack, the humans chose to fly into the mothership and within it 1.8 million aliens were found starving and wasting away on this ship. They were immediately brought down and placed into a slum known as 'District 9' which is loosely based on District 6 in South Africa. In 2010, after years of crime and violence in the area, the corporation MNU sends out a team to evict and move all the aliens offensively known as 'Prawns'. The goal is to move them into a setting which is equal to a refugee camp but now they will be far out of human eyes. The MNU corporation chooses to send in Wikus Van De Merwe, an awkward but distinguished officer in the company and the plot takes off from there. He begins serving the eviction notices and the plot takes off. I don't want to spoil anything that I don't have to but I did enjoy this plot a lot. It's filled with suspense, thrills, action, and social commentary on the apartheid in South Africa and racial segregation in general. It's a well told tale and it has a good length to it allowing for a satisfactory climax, conclusion and a generally well paced story.
The acting is also superb. The film is generally made up of unknown actors but I must say all of them impress. Sharlto Copley does an excellent job as Wickus Van De Merwe and he ran with the character's development extremely well. Wickus shows a wide range of emotion in this film and Sharlto handled it extremely well. The supporting cast is just as great and they make the film all the better. I must also say that the CGI in this film is excellent. The aliens look great and I have to say they did a lot of cool things with the CGI. Excellent animations and great dialogue for them made their characters almost believeable and the emotion displayed within them was hard hitting. It was difficult to watch them be abused, assaulted, and hurt and I was surprised at how I felt for them. It was a unique experience and this is part of what makes District 9 so great.
The film is presented in what appears at first to be a mock documentary picture. We see Wickus and other members of MNU being interviewed on the 'Prawn' situation and we observe the serving of eviction notices with Wickus as well in a documentary styIe presentation. The last half of the film though is mostly told in traditional film styIe and most of the films action is shot with shaky cameras. It comes off as very rugged and it works well for this type of film. Think Children of Men if you want to picture how the action is shot. The action in this film though is exhilirating and because of the connection you feel with the characters, it comes off as even stronger and there's definitely some cheering that goes on when your favorite character does something markedly badass. I really enjoyed this films action and it's a blessing that the film is rife with just enough to keep you entertained but not too much for it to simply be a mundane action flick.
In the end, what succeeds with District 9 is that it brings into the lives of the characters on the screen. It genuinly makes you connect with the characters and this is something many action films miss out on. Bare in mind though that this is far more then an action film. It is an intelligent film on a subject that is far too real in our society namely ghettoization, racial segregration, and oppression. The film manages to present these topics with a dash of action and this is welcome. We love entertainment and many of us will find these meaning regardless. To say the least though, I love this film and there is nothing better then a well made summer blockbuster worthy of our money and time. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the summers best movie.
The Pros: Great acting, superb CGI, brings you into the world of the characters, excellent action sequences shot in a very shaky handicam styIe which happens to work well for this film, great message and theme, decadently thrilling and suspenseful, shot in a unique styIe allowing for a one of a kind experience at this point of time
The Cons: The beginning is a bit shaky but it's clear Blomkamp got his footing near the end of the film
Overall: Destined to be one of the best of 09