182: District 9

District 9 (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 112 minutes
Starring: Sharlto Copley
Director: Niell Blomkamp

There's no need to mention how this movie came out of nowhere these past few weeks to take the box office by storm (although I did just that, didn't I?). What's amazing in my mind is that this movie wouldn't have come to fruition had it not been for an overblown budget on a big time movie adaptation for the poorly plotted Halo games (seriously, even the Midas touch of Peter Jackson wouldn't have turned that would-be turd into movie gold). Thank god we got this movie instead, because who knows how bad Halo will end up (it's supposedly still in production...).

Everyone knows the story by now - aliens come to earth, but they don't make contact, we do. And so the alien enslavement begins, as more than a million "prawns" are imprisoned within the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa. The plot starts after more than 20 years since first contact and follows a corporate yuppie, Wikus van der Merwe, docu-style, as he's put in charge of moving the aliens from the slums of Johannesburg to a camp outside of the city, far away from the city and human contact. Basically the camp is built more like a concentration camp and the slums are actually a luxury compared to where they would end up. But things get hairy when Wikus gets infected about a third of the way through the movie with some alien substance.

I was actually relieved during the first part of the movie - which basically narrated the first 20 years of alien contact through various interviews with "experts" on the subject, something someday I wish to be. I was fully prepared for the movie to just drop you in during present time and not fully explain what exactly happened during first contact and up through present time. Thank god Blomkamp isn't a bastard. The exposition didn't feel boring or forced upon, it felt natural as part of the movie. It sets up the scene nicely as the cameras follow Wikus from shanty to shanty, dolling out eviction notices for the alien residents. The story is definitely one of the most original sci-fi concepts in quite some time and it's not just the plot, but the characters as well. Wikus is pretty much a dull, corporate jockey who really isn't a beacon for authority. He basically got the job because he's married to the boss's daughter. He's not quite someone you can root for, but one you sympathize with and when he gets thrust into status of the aliens' hero, you eventually find yourself rooting for him to succeed. Especially when things get intense and he finds himself blowing shit and people and aliens (sometimes by accident! Oops!) up, with the camera following every intense bit of action.

This is another remarkable achievement for this movie: the CGI. It didn't feel out of place or that the actors were just imagining the aliens in front of them - it felt as though they were actually touching them and interacting with real beings. WETA worked on Gollum for Lord of the Rings, but they've outdone themselves with the gritty realism of these aliens and the wretched, dirty squallor that they live in. It doesn't hurt that the movie is shot Blair Witch- (or Cloverfield-) style, which makes the action and characters more blurry than if shot on a fixed camera. But the action is intense and gory and it really doesn't get crazy until the last third, where blood and guts are flying everywhere. Hell yeah!

This was a fun ride, it had pretty much everything: explosions, guts, aliens, weapons (of mass destruction!), flying body parts, some good laughs, a tearful ending, decapitation and lots and lots of blood on the camera lens. Great stuff and if you're a sci-fi fan at all, you should pony up some money to see this on the big screen because it's worth it!

Rating: See It!

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