Neil Blomkamp explodes onto the silver screen with his first summer blockbuster
By Alex Pearl ’10
On Aug. 14, American audiences bared witness to the premiere of “District 9,” an epic sci-fi production directed and co-written by Neil Blomkamp and co-produced by Peter Jackson.
While Peter Jackson may sound familiar to fans of the “Lord of the Rings” movies and “King Kong,” the name Blomkamp may be somewhat unfamiliar to those who are alien to independent filming – or to the “Halo” video game series, for which Blomkamp was lined up to work on a film adaptation.
Although the “Halo” movie was compressed into a relatively minuscule but very well done series of film clips, it appears that Blomkamp has found a big break in “District 9.”
In all seriousness, “District 9” is a work of art. If you’re willing to get into it, then the movie has everything: aliens, action, drama, story and a mockumentary feel towards the beginning and end of the movie that ties it all together.
For those who enjoyed JJ Abrams’s “Cloverfield,” the mockumentary elements will be a big selling point, and for any who enjoyed the style of action presented in “Iron Man,” a scene with a rampaging alien mech suit should be more than satisfying.
The story is deep and leaves viewers attached to if not the characters, the setting in which they are portrayed, with the South African city of Johannesburg playing host to a stranded group of 2 million aliens in a metaphor for the South African apartheid.
While a multinational weapons corporation is attempting to move the aliens to concentration camps, the aliens are trying to find a way to escape their state of oppression and free their people.
The movie evokes a “humans are the real monster” feel, as the constant abuse of the aliens (dubbed with the supposedly racist term of “prawns” due to their shrimp-like appearance) by the weapons corporations and the resident
South Africans can be enough to make some viewers cringe.
The “prawns” are viewed by people as less-than-human, and as such are exploited constantly and killed almost indiscriminately at the hands of humans.
This has the potential to be believable and distasteful enough to leave a bad or guilty taste in the mouth of most viewers.
The movie has a few red flags, however. First, the R rating is well earned.
The movie practically glows in the dark from the radiation that constant F-bombing leaves behind, most of it provided by the main character Wikus.
What’s more, some may be unsettled by the constant splorch of exploding people during the action scenes (no, not people’s exploding heads, but entire exploding people, a common technique of Blomkamp’s) and other violence including people being shot to death, shocked to death or dismembered.
Lastly, some small plot holes that will not be divulged in this review leave one a little out in the cold.
These flaws, however, are laughably negligible – for anyone with a stomach for violence, the action scenes are amazingly animated and choreographed, and the plot holes can be easily overlooked due to the immersive qualities of the movie.
All in all, “District 9” is more than worth viewing at least twice, and is entirely deserving of being the summer blockbuster of 2009.