Tuesday 8 September 2009

District 9...

For one reason or another, I hadn't been paying too much attention to this flick. I'd seen the teaser trailer when the alien's look was first revealed, and then months and months later I saw the trailer in the cinema a week before we went to actually see it.

I'd been aware of it in various discussions, or in magazine articles - I knew it was Neill Blomkamp's debut with Peter Jackson producing after their ill-fated attempt at getting the Halo movie off the ground (the trial/teasers of which were fucking awesome by the way) ... but yeah, I hadn't been paying a great deal of attention to this movie.

I'm kind of glad I didn't either, because that way I went in with zero expectation - hell, I wasn't entirely sure what I was in for. I had a good idea, but not entirely.

Well - put simply - I finally have the best movie I've seen so far this year (aside from Inglourious Basterds), and a sure-fire winner of a place in my Top 5 of 2009. There's been numerous movie's we've been to see this year...

*Role Models (Jan) - good fun, not incredible, but good fun.
*The Wrestler (Jan) - actually, come to think of it, fucking awesome.
*Friday the 13th 2009 (Feb) - slick pish, only the Jason stuff was any good, Derek Mears deserves better fare.
*Gran Torino (Mar) - classic Clint.
*Watchmen (Mar) - best Zack Snyder movie thus far (Yawn04 sucked copious balls, 300 was pish), but I didn't cream over it.
*Lesbian Vampire Killers (Mar) - has its moments, otherwise a let down.
*Crank 2: High Voltage (Apr) - actually, it was seriously bloody good fun.
*I Love You, Man (Apr) - solid fun, better than Role Models.
*Observe & Report (Apr) - crap.
*X-Men Origins (May) - decent action, not as good as X-Men 1 or 2, but better than X3.
*Drag Me To Hell (May) - seriously kick ass horror, despite the PG-13 rating.
*Terminator Salvation (Jun) - has a few moments, but overall it's limp ... better than T3 ... sucks compared to T1 or T2.
*The Hangover (Jun) - surprisingly good fun, crap trailer though.
*Doghouse (Jun) - solid horror comedy fun, but Danny Dyer's "geezer schtick" is wearing seriously thin.
*Transformers 2 (Jun) - TF1 was a lot better than this inconsistent, over-long, self-indulgent, curiously-sordid-for-a-family-blockbuster mish-mash.
*G.I. Joe (Aug) - some kick ass bits (the Paris chase, which is essentially real-life Team America haha, and Levitt's awesome Cobra Commander)
*Inglourious Basterds (Aug) - kicked ass, but a smidge too long.
*Funny People (Aug) - a let down from previous Apatow-directed flicks, but plenty of chuckles.

...it's been a mixed bag. The Wrestler, Crank 2, Drag Me To Hell, and Inglourious Basterds would have to be my highlights so far - so there we have it, those four and District 9 - that's my Top 5 of 2009 thus far.

However, it has been a year of many dashed expectations, as well as a number of modest let downs ... so it seems even more "hip-hip-hooray" when something seriously kick ass comes along - such as District 9.

It did perhaps lose some momentum when it shifted from pseudo-documentary to Fly-like tale of desperation, but even still, this is a seriously good sci-fi flick, and like all good sci-fi, it's not necessarily about the aliens, or gadgets, or guns or whatever. It's about ideas - in this case, apartheid, racism, segregation, immigration, untrustworthy governments, and slum-life.

Fortunately it didn't get too overt with these themes - they were just there within the film for those that wanted to find them could do, but even then it didn't beat you over the head with subtext. I was fearing that could happen, as the whole "white gubment evil, black gubment good" simplistic argument that gets trotted out by various Guardianistas all the time is tiring - life, simply, isn't that straight forward. Besides, the idea that skin colour affects the quality of governing intelligence is nothing short of insulting to any and all human beings, regardless of their colour or creed.

But yeah - fortunately it didn't get into club-heading political territory at all. Both the whites and blacks in Jo'burg are equally evil or equally innocent, heck, the main character starts out like a bit of a pitiable twat and then becomes a genuine hero who you can really respect - same goes for the aliens (or "prawns" as they're nick-named by the humans).

Also, on a budget of a relatively mere $30 million, the scale is damned impressive, and while the CGI aliens may not be the most convincing CGI you'll have seen, their innate humanity (in their movement and their dialogue and how they're treated by mankind) will easily make you overlook the downside.

Visually the film is arresting, the constant mix-up of pseudo-documentary footage, CCTV clips, and docu-style traditional-fourth-wall stuff works perfectly. It's mixed from pretty much the beginning, so it never feels clunky, or out-of-pace throughout ... which had been a slight worry ahead of time, but I needn't have fretted.

Why bother ranting on and on though, District 9 is a seriously good sci-fi outing, and while a sequel isn't necessary, I'd still go and see one (just as long as they keep the quality up, naturally). Hopefully this can act as a calling card to re-open the Halo movie door, because ... yeah ... those teasers on YouTube kick ass.

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