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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year:

District 9 Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Shartlo Copley, Jackson Cope,John Sumner,
Jack Clarkson Review

Peter Jackson met Neill when they had both been signed on to make the Halo movie. When the budget spiralled out of control, Peter approached Neill and offered him some pocket money to make his own film instead in the form of thirty million dollars.

That may sound like a lot, so here are a few comparisons.
Transformers: 150 Million
The Golden Compass: 180 Million
Watchmen: 130 Million
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: 150 Million
Iron Man: 140 Million
District 9: 30 Million.

And for all those hundreds of millions of dollars that were being thrown around… It was the little guy that won in the end. Because District 9 beats the ever living hell out of every single one of these movies!

In 1984, a massive alien space ship came to a stop above Johannesburg. After three months of nothing, people decided to cut their way in, and they found thousands of malnourished starving aliens living in squalor. The aliens are moved to the titular District 9 to keep them separate from humanity.

The movie follows Wikus van der Merwe, an average guy who’s sent out to hand eviction notices to all the aliens in District 9 so they can be re-housed in a new area. Things don’t go quite as smoothly as he would have liked, and he finds himself infected with something alien. Soon enough he finds himself hunted by his fellow humans who all want to dissect him and only finds sanctuary from an alien who calls itself Christopher Johnson and his son.

At first glance, it’s just a thinly veiled allegory for the apartheid system, with the aliens being the Africans, and humans being the white people. Blomkamp manages to be much more subtle about it. The aliens aren’t obviously sympathetic, they are insectoid creatures that seem to have no sense of ownership and will happily scavenge the shoes from your feet, and frankly, they look horrible.

You can see why people think the way they do about them. This film portrays a stark realism where nobody is truly good, or comically over the top evil. Wikus himself is pretty nasty at the beginning of the film, cheerfully remarking on how the dying alien babies sounded like popcorn, but you watch as he changes over the course of the film.

This film doesn’t have as much action as something like Transformers, but every battle sequence feels earned. When Wikus first grabs a gun and blows a Nigerian gangster through a wall, you feel such an immense release of anger built up over the course of the movie. The action is well delivered and holds its own against the big budget movies out there, sometimes even managing to be better. I’m personally praying for this to take the best effects Oscar just to see the look on Michael Bay’s face! This movie was really clever, and it made you think about prejudice and tyrany without seeming over the top.
This movie was heart rendingly emotional and bowel voidingly awesome! If you don’t like it you’re an idiot.

© Jack Clarkson Oct 1st 2009

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