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Saturday, August 22, 2009

District 9

I've been looking forward to District 9 for a long time.

Helmed by director Neill Blomkamp, and produced by Peter Jackson, District 9 9 is the big-screen realization of South African independent director Blomkamp's Alive in Joberg.

I've watch Blompkamp for a little while now (though most people seem to know him as the Halo insterstitials director), and I am so stoked his short film has gotten big-screen commmercial play.

The film is pretty true to original, with the budget to do the stuff Blomkamp wasn't able to do before. This is one of his strengths -- despite being a wunderkind storyteller / director / visual effects wizard trapped in a mortal body, and despite being able to pull off effects he has no right to pull off without a budget -- he doesn't try to show what he shouldn't show.

Lesson to folks making films: Take a page from Mr. Blomkamp. Too many films fall over because they're trying to show something they're not equipped to show -- actors who can't get their emotionally, special effects that don't come together, too obviously cheated locations that rob the moment of import, etc.

I don't want to say a bunch about the movie, because I don't want to give stuff away, and if you don't know about the movie, going in fresh will be a ton of fun.

Be warned -- this is not a "popcorn summer movie". This is a sci-fi genre film that's not about the sci-fi; that's just set dressing for the important stuff. And it's pretty important stuff.

Oh, and while not a comedic movie by any means, the documentary trope gives some great moments, and there's a particular funny moment I found funnier -- and have put that item at the bottom of this post, so as not to spoil it for those purists among you.

Sharlto Copley is stunning in the lead role, and keep in mind, his only two acting credits are District 9 and the original Alive in Joburg. It's the kind of acting to which I aspire.

While the film was great, and did a great job of holding onto original vision while being commercially accessible, it was a bit heavy-handed at the very end. Uncharacteristically so. Kind of like, "Wow, that's kind of ... hey, wait, oh, now it's obvious, and I was already there!"

For now, here's the Alive in Joberg precursor film (but checkout for the high-quality version with far far superior sound).

Now, if only they would give me a Tetra Vaal film; or even Tempbot:

Spoiler(ish) from District 9: A sci-fi weapon trope is the gravity gun ("grav gun"). There's a brief, not overdone moment where a grav gun is used to unexpectedly grab and launch a large pig, killing a man. It's wicked fast, slickly executed, and not telegraphed.

Now let me ruin it for you.

The man was killed because ... (wait for it) swine flew ...

(It's hilarious! It's topical! I slay me!)

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