It's here people! The film long discussed and much hyped is here, and I'm here to tell you that it's one of the rare films that absolutely lives up to the hype.
Allow me to preface my thoughts here by advising you to go into this movie (as the Cohost suggested) completely blind and unaware of any plot. I didn't know too much about it, and that was part of what made it so fun. That being said, I won't spoil any major plot points- I'm just going to outline the basic plot to give you a general idea.
Thirty-odd years before the film starts, aliens made contact with us humans. We braced for attack or war, but instead we ended up with something entirely different. They had parked their ship over South Africa and simply weren't moving. Upon entering the ship, the scientists find thousands of helpless malnourished aliens whose leader has left them for an unknown reason. The citizens and govt. refuse to let them leave, packing the aliens into a ghetto in Johannesburg- the film's namesake, 'District 9.' This is where we get the meat of the film- a field operative named Wikus van der Merwe is chosen to lead a program to evict and transfer the aliens to an alternate, safer location called District 10.
Whew! So that's where our plot gets going- I won't spoil any of the details later on...it's worth mentioning that this film is probably very different from what you're expecting. Now I'll move on to the parts I loved....
It's a real joy that we finally get a summer flick that is not only great sci-fi action, but great story to boot. It's basically a parable or an allegory to Apartheid and the way the USA mistreats refugees sometimes. It's also intensely emotional and moving- something I wasn't expecting at all. Too many of these summer movies are full of explosions and lack any coherent story (I'm looking at you, Transformers 2!) And District 9 is a breath of fresh air. If I sound vague, it's because the main storyline is best for you to just watch blindly, as previously stated :) Just know that everything in this story works very well. As an audience, we find ourselves alternatively siding with humans and aliens at different times, and morality is a big part of it. I loved the story!
Oh. My. Lord. This is one freaking gorgeous movie! It's hard to believe it was shot for 30$ Million. You really believe that these aliens are real- they blend seamlessly against the backgrounds and humans as well. The weaponry is jaw-droppingly awesome to watch in action, too- you'll see what I'm talking about. There's a 20-odd minute action segment in here with a robot suit- and let me tell you, it kicks the collective ass of both Transformers films COMBINED in that brief scene. The aliens (or 'Prawns' as they're nicknamed) are very well-animated and a joy to watch. This film is gorgeous.
Using unknowns was a great choice here. Sharlto Copley is the lead here- and he gives a heartfelt, wonderful performance. We gain a lot of respect and sympathy for this guy as we learn what he must endure throughout the film. I heard that this was his first real acting gig, too- which is really impressive, given his great performance here. We're given a lot that we can relate to his story with, as well. The acting is very solid all around.
Peter Jackson did produce this flick, but the real star here is the director- and a first time director at that! Neil Blomkamp does a wonderful job switching between documentary-style shots and up close and personal moments, letting the camera linger on our heroes (and villains!) While watching this I was reminded of the style in which Children Of Men was filmed- very quickly paced and intense, yet leaving space for us to breathe now and then.
And Last But Not Least...The GORE and ACTION!
If you don't see it for the acting, the effects, or story...this works VERY well as a straight action flick- at least the last third or so. This was a big complaint from many critics, but I found the action segments meshed perfectly with the rest of our story here. And MAN, it is violent with a capital V. If you aren't a gore person, this will be tough to see. People are blown to pieces, decapitated, torn apart, and killed in many other sick ways. However, it's SO fun to watch that you probably won't be grossed out. This is absolutely a theater film to see with a lot of people. The audience was cheering and clapping and just loving the film. The violence and action are brutal and endlessly fun.
If you can't tell by now, I am smitten by this film. I'll repeat what I posted on the LTD comment page- this is a fun, gory, action-packed roller coaster ride that doubles as a wonderful piece of filmmaking. It's going to be regarded as a sci-fi classic in the future, or at least I hope so! It really deserves as much recognition as possible. So go see it everyone! I really want this to succeed, so maybe we'll see a sequel. District 9 is at the top of my 2009 movie list, right next to UP- it really is something special. So if you like sci-fi, thinking about moral issues, or just want to see some people get vaporized, you will not find a better summer film than District 9!!!