Comic-Con: Andy's Thoughts on Neill Blomkamp's District 9
by Andy Adair
July 27, 2009
Last week during Comic-Con, we were invited to a special screening of District 9. As I was sitting in the theater waiting for the film to start, a slow roar of applause began to echo throughout the theater. Peter Jackson himself, along with Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley (the star of the film) had arrived to inform us that this was the very first screening of District 9, and to remind us how thrilled they were for us to be there watching it. I was very excited, to say the least, and now I want to let you know what I thought. We were asked by Peter Jackson himself to keep a lot of the details under wraps, so this will be spoiler free!
District 9 is a story about an alien ship that crash-landed in South Africa in the 1980's. There was some kind of a malfunction in the ship itself, forcing the alien residents within to stay here on earth at a refugee camp located directly below the ship itself. This area is known to the world as "District 9." As seen in the trailers, this area is essentially a shantytown. The homes the aliens live in are nothing more than tin shacks, and it's clear that they are not very welcome here on earth. Twenty years pass, and now the aliens must be moved to a new location following a series of events (which you will see soon in the movie, no spoilers here!)
This movie has a Cloverfield-esque feel at times, as well as a documentary vibe. It's tough to explain, so just take my word for it - it's done incredibly well. The way this film is shot by Blomkamp is so impressive for a first-time director; he will undoubtedly be a big filmmaker for many years to come. It is beauty in simplicity and the focused cast and crew make District 9 the must see film this August. Copley isn't an accomplished actor by any means, as this is his first film as well. However, he makes you feel connected with the character on a level that you wouldn't expect for this type of sci-fi film. The only gripe that I do have about D9 is its slow beginning. The first 30 minutes seem to progress slower than what many moviegoers may be used to. While this does not detract from the movie as a whole, it is a concern worth mentioning.
The best word I could use to describe this is simply "wow." The filmmakers did such a phenomenal job of maximizing what they were given. I can say with confidence that they've made the best $30 million sci-fi movie in a long time. Immediately you can recognize the time and effort that was put into this film, from the spaceship floating in the sky, to the weapons, to even the aliens themselves. I'm also very glad that this didn't have any high profile actors. Not only does it cut down on budget, but it also adds a sense of realism to the experience. All in all District 9 is a great film, with a great story, great cast, and great direction.
District 9 shows that Neill Blomkamp is a more than capable director to handle a big budget film, and I am excited to see what exactly he has in store for us in the future. You definitely don't want to miss this!