Monday, December 21, 2009

DISTRICT 9 - a re-review

So some nice movie folk sent me a DISTRICT 9 BluRay disc and I took the opportunity to rewatch one of the most original sci-fi flicks of the year. I haven't fundamentally changed my opinion of the movie, which you can read here. The movie is two thirds superb satire of South African politics; brilliantly conceived mockumentary; and re-casting of the sci-fi genre. I still love the down and dirty look of the film. I still admire the way that the director and co-writer, Neill Blomkamp, balances comedy and action. And I still think that shot of the alien spaceship hovering over Jo-burg is iconic. Admittedly, I also still think that the final third of the film descends into a mindless shootemup/buddy movie that's entertaining but in a more lo-rent way than the first two thirds of the film.

The plus point of the BD disc is that special effects flicks really do look cool on HD - even a special effects flick that's fundamentally fighting against the Hollywood-glossy look. As for the extras, the director's commentary is also pretty insightful. You get the feeling that Blomkamp knew exactly what he wanted for this film, and it's pretty amazing that he took on such a technically ambitious project for his first feature. You also get to find out how he got involved with Peter Jackson, and thus got the funding to turn his short into a feature. I was most fascinated by his anecdotes about how the political situation in South Africa fed into the movie - sometimes in an unforeseen manner. For instance, it was after shooting began that the violence against Zimbabwean refugees took place - violence that echoes the reaction of the poor South Africans toward the "prawns" in the flick.

There's also around 90 minutes worth of short docs explaining everything from the improvisation process to the sound design, CGI special effects and old-fashioned prosthetics. As with all of these kinds of extras, they typically contain more information than you actually need or care about unless you're a complete fan-boy. The only one I found interesting, as someone who liked the film but isn't a fanatic, was the segment on the physical effects transforming Wikus into a prawn.

Stuff that didn't work so well: the MovieIQ feature, that's meant to use your internet connection to give interesting little factoids throughout the film, wasn't working because the server was down. Also, why oh why oh why do movie distributors try to cross sell with up front ads? Why do I have to fast forward through a Michael Jackson ad to get to my film?!

DISTRICT 9 is released on DVD/BluRay on December 28th.


  1. Yeah. Don't point your flippen tentacles at me. Classic film.
    Popped by to compare notes about Clint Eastwood's recent Invictus, but it seems it hasn't hit your screen yet - or you haven't reviewed it. It's a fairly 2-D bit of New South Africa ra-ra (and would probably never have been made if it weren't for the impending World Cup in SA methinks), but worth seeing for Matt Damon's near-flawless Afrikaans accent (go Matt) and for Morgan Freeman's Mandela. I had my doubts at first but he grew into it. Rousing, feel-good sort of thing despite no real critical merit.

  2. Hi, Invictus isn't out in the UK yet but check back in the first week of Feb!