Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review: District 9

Every once in a while a film comes along that defines a genre. Sergio Leone's "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" is the quintessential Western, "Die Hard" is the go-to for action movies and for most people the first two "Alien" films have set the standard for sci-fi and have rarely gone unmatched. Sure, we've had great science fiction since those films but everyone seems to keep coming back to "Alien" and "Aliens". Both films are completely different. "Alien" is a subtle horror/thriller that takes a look at the human psyche when it is put into an intense situation during extreme isolation. "Aliens" is more of an action/thriller that has something to say about the ravages of war mentally and physically on those who experience it. And now Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp have teamed together to give us what made both films great in one genre defining picture. "District-9" is absolutely brilliant science fiction that gets back to the basics and presents them in a new and refreshing way. What has always made sci-fi so compelling is the way it blends social commentary, human drama and all out action into a great story and not make it feel weighed down by all this. Over the last twenty years the closest we've come to that have been films that take one or two of those elements and executes them perfectly. But to take all of those? That takes true talent. The plot of "District-9" has remained under wraps for a very long time and I'm going to keep it that way. Basically, twenty years ago an alien craft came to a dead stop over Johannasberg, South Africa and those aboard the ship have been forced into a life in a slum known as District-9. And like most slums, its residents live in dilapidated shacks made out of spare panelling and cardboard. The nigerian mafia runs the slum, trading catfood for alien weaponry and the people of Johannasberg are fed up with their government not taking care of the issue. And that's where the fun begins. I'm not going to reveal more because there are a million secrets in D-9 and to spoil them would be losing out on half the fun. I tend to run away from film critic cliches like "life affirming" or "an adrenaline rush" but let me say that "District-9" is a roller coaster ride. When the government vehicles started to roll out of their safe parking garage and into the district I felt the same rush that one gets when going on an amusent park ride and it didn't let up for it's near 2-hour runtime. Neil Blomkamp is a more than capable director and I hope that the studios see that in his hands "Halo" has potential to be the best video-game film ever. "District-9" will be looked upon as a genre defining film for years to come and earns a rightful spot next to the "Alien" films as some of the most intelligent science fiction you will ever see.

my rating: 10/10

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