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District 9 August 31, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There has been a lot of excitement around the release of the new Sci-Fi movie, District 9, over the past few weeks and months. A lot of the hype stems from, in my opinion, 2 things: the first, that the movie has been created on a remarkably low budget (around $30 million), and the second, that both the director and the lead actor are South Africans. Directed (and written in part) by Neill Blomkamp, with Sharlto Copley taking the lead role as Wikus van der Merwe, the movie is glaringly short on big-name Hollywood “talent”. Yay!D9-1

District 9 grossed around $37 million on opening weekend. It is interesting to note that Transformers 2 grossed closer to $100 million, but its production budget was double that. (Oh how it pains me to even compare the two films…) Part of District 9’s success has been attributed to the very clever viral marketing campaigns, started back in 2008. Giant signs (such as the “For Humans Only” sign pictured here) were erected in public areas, long before the movie was released.

So anyway, I managed to go and watch District 9 this weekend with wifey and friends, and I must admit, I went in very critical and demanding like many South Africans do, when watching any “local” TV or film. I was also trying to ignore all the mixed reviews I had read snippets of (I hate reading reviews before a movie: I think reviews prescribe opinions too much) However, now that I’ve seen it, here are some of the reviews I thought had merit:

a sharp-edged science fiction parable that mixes metaphor and violent action with such dizzying confidence that you leave the theater feeling charged and alive – James Kendrick

The film’s message, that compassion and humanity extend far beyond our own species, isn’t subtle, but it is effective. – Robert Roten

Copley’s wild-eyed performance as the luckless Wikus has a lot going for it. The fact that he’s so ridiculous — and so dogged — adds to the pathos, for it’s patently clear Blomkamp has no taste for easy endings. – Sandra Hall

So, what did I think?

I liked it. I liked it a lot.

It was funny, intense, and shocking. Funny, because of the simple-Afrikaner that Wikus was. Intense, because there wasn’t much room for reflection during the storyline, never time to think over what has just happened. (Just how Wikus felt, I’m sure). And a little shocking at times mostly because of the realism added from the documentary-style, and the very South-African-ness of it all (it didn’t feel like a movie a lot of the time)

The acting was great (with very few exceptions, perhaps such as Wikus’ wife), and the effects were top-notch too, in my uneducated opinion. (They didn’t look like effects at all 🙂 ) I think one of the things I enjoyed most in the movie was the sound. The music was quite subtle most of the time, and very South African, but the sound of the helicopters and vehicles was just completely and entirely real, and loud, and immersive. It didn’t sound like a typical Hollywood action flick with “enhanced” sound and extra bass added to every thing. It just sounded like there was a frikkin helicopter landing in the cinema.

Was it a socio-political commentary? Did it descrive the human condition? Did it ask tough questions? Yes, to all three. But, before we get too carried away on whether this was a ground-breaking, maiden-head of the genre, I’m not convinced there is a whole lot of depth to it. Which is why I want to go and watch it again, soon.

Check out the official site for District 9, and once you’ve seen the movie, read some of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

D9 - 2



1. Posts about music as of August 31, 2009 » BLOGVIDEOS - August 31, 2009

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2. Deems - August 31, 2009

Nice review mate.

For me, I just don’t know if I could sit through 90+ minutes of SA accents – although I like sci-fi themed movies I might just wait for this to come out on DVD (hopefully it comes with an English dubbed soundtrack to switch to). But to be fair, for the most part, I’ve heard good reviews from others who have also watched it.

baldricman - August 31, 2009

The SA accents aren’t bad, I promise. You know why? Because there aren’t any Yankee accents alongside them. Oh, and also, the SA accents are actually by South Africans, not Austrians and Germans and Americans trying to act South African.
It’s almost totally South African, with a few foreign accents thrown in.
I wouldn’t wait for DVD if I were you: I think this is a movie where the big screen and big sound will be far superior to a home-viewing experience.

Deems - August 31, 2009

Mmmm – now you’ve piqued my interest 🙂

I suppose that fact that Vanessa Haywood, who’s quickly making a name for herself internationally, is also in it might convince me to go see it on the big screen.

3. Galen Schultz - September 2, 2009

I watched District 9 yesterday and was very pleasantly surprised! For the first 20 minutes or so you might think “What. The. F#*%” But after you get used to the SA accents and the story begins to develop it gets really intense!

They perhaps go a little overboard by saying “hey” and f0k” a lot. Why do they always make ‘South Africans’ say “hey” so much anyway? Hey? Like Leo D in Blood Diamond…

Anyway, it’s very well made for such a low budget film – definitely worth a watch. Don’t wait for it to come out on DVD, go watch the film on the big screen and show your support!

PS: I understand that Peter Jackson was going to make a Halo movie instead of District 9 but didn’t have the budget to do so. Thank goodness for that!

baldricman - September 2, 2009

hey Galen, thanks for commenting. Leo was totally overboard in Blood Diamond, I agree, but I really didn’t find Wikus in D9 excessive. I know way too many “okes” who speak just like that…. 😀
I’m kinda hoping they approve the budget for the Halo movie now, now that they’ve seen that that team can do! Would be great exposure.

4. Aslam Levy - September 2, 2009

@Baldricman The Halo moved is canned. Both Peter Jackson and Blomkamp have said that they wont go near it again.

They put alot of effort into pre-production that $ got pulled. Ouch!

5. District 9 « Deems’s Weblog - September 27, 2009

[…] talk of this District 9 movie for the last month or so and after being prompted by the likes of Baldricman and my brother, I thought we too should go and see what all the fuss is […]

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