|District 9 (2009)|
|Theatrical Movie Reviews Theatrical|
|Written by Daniel Hirshleifer|
|Thursday, 13 August 2009|
What wonderful bookends. While it wasn't the first big movie of the summer, Star Trek opened in early May, and became a blockbuster success, eventually grossing over $250 million and becoming the highest grossing entry in the series, even adjusted for inflation. Aside from its massive ticket sales, the movie was also a critical smash, earning top marks from many critics, myself included. And while it's not the last movie of the summer, District 9 feels like the last great entry of this summer's cinema. It's also the first movie I've seen since Star Trek that has made me feel as deeply or as effectively.
I'm hesitant to get into the specifics of the plot, because Blomkamp and co-writer Terri Tatchell have put together a story that rewards untainted viewing. That's not to say the movie is littered with twists and turns, but rather that the characters and situation are so compelling that telling you instead of letting you experience it for yourself would be doing you and the movie a disservice. Suffice it to say that Blomkamp makes you feel for characters, both human and alien, and has several sequences that had me on the edge of my seat, not even daring to breath in case I missed what happened next.
Sharlto Copley (himself a writer/director/producer) plays Wikus Van De Merwe, a MNU agent who gets too caught up in District 9 for his own good. His performance is layered and nuanced, with a wide range of emotions. He draws you in and really involves the audience, making them feel his plight, for better and for worse. Equally impressive are the prawns themselves. Animated by the CGI artists at WETA, the little New Zealand company that could has finally done something that stands up to the greatest achievements of ILM. While Gollum was impressive, and made WETA major players on the effects scene, ILM's work on Pirates of the Caribbean's Davy Jones and the Transformers put them at the forefront of the field. Now, with the prawns in District 9, WETA has caught up, creating believable characters that seemingly occupy the same physical space as the human actors.
All of these add up to a movie that is much more than the sum of its parts. District 9 makes you think, makes you feel, makes you care. It reminds you of what is the best and worst in humanity. And the fact that it does so within such a specialized framework of the sci-fi/action genre makes it achievements all the more impressive. District 9 easily stands as one of the finest pictures of the year, and in the long run may even end up as one of the best of the decade.