Monday, 24 August 2009

FILM REVIEW: District 9


THE UNFAMILIAR: Sharlto Copley (centre) in a scene from District 9

District 9 (TriStar Pictures)
Director: Neill Blomkampp
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt and Sylvaine Strike
Running Time: 1hr 53 mins

Tyrone’s Verdict: A

Raw and riveting, Neill Blomkampp’s District 9 is a first-rank piece of science-fiction filmmaking that poses difficult questions while offering brilliant social commentary. It’s a statement film presented in docudrama format that’s speculative with genuine emotional resonance with heart and soul concerns that Blomkammp, a gifted and brave director, is not afraid to examine. The end-result is a spell-binding and metaphorical meditation on racism and social injustices.

According to the story we are presented, aliens made first contact with Earth thirty years ago. While we waited for a hostile attack or the giant advances in technology from the visitors, neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa's District 9 as the world's nations argued over what to do with them. But everyone has become impatient. The aliens must go.

Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens' welfare. The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (a terrific Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. He quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable, since he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology.

Both fascinating and eye-opening,
District 9 offers a daring look at the battle ordinary humans always wage against the unfamiliar. There are no easy answers to the question that Blomkampp poses to his audience, but that is to be expected when faced with issues having to do with justice, cruelty and ‘humanity’.

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