Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 9

Writer/director Neil Blomkamp has created a fantastic morality play about discrimination and prejudice using alien creatures nicknamed "prawns" as his metaphor for the minority populace.

The film is set in South Africa, which in itself is a blatant statement but also a refreshing location, rather than New York, Washington D.C. or Los Angeles. It is set twenty years after a huge alien population is stranded on earth and forced to live in a confined shanty town on the outskirts of Johannesburg. When the government decides to relocate the aliens, the plot is really set in motion and it is fascinating to watch.

This very easily could have turned into a comedy of sorts but Mr. Blomkamp writes and directs with a serious eye and very quickly you are caught up in the drama of the alien plight. Using hand held cameras and shooting documentary style, makes "District 9" very plausible. The Aliens themselves appear to be a combination of CGI, costumes, makeup, and puppetry and they blend in perfectly with the human actors.

The cast does a fine job but the standout performance is by Sharlto Coply as Wikus Van De Merwe, the government official put in charge of the relocation. Wikus becomes the central figure in the story when his world is shattered and a new reality becomes all too apparent.

The action is turned up to eleven in the last act of the film, along with the tension but it also sets up a poignant ending with a haunting final image. "District 9" gets high marks for a low budget Sc-fi film.

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