This solid movie is destined to be a DVD favorite for years to come.
The DVD images seemed a little too baked in parts.Wikus (Sharlto Copley) is your garden variety, middle management stooge. He works for the government and he's been put in charge of evicting a group of aliens (derisively called "prawns" because they resemble that sea dwelling animal) who have landed on earth. They live in a slum area of Johannesburg, South Africa and the country wants them out. Wikus goes into that area and is so annoying as he leads the mission, one can't help but wish for his early demise. This almost happens as Wikus gets exposed to the aliens biotechnology and suddenly becomes one of the beings that he is trying to rid his country of. With the government after him, Wikus is changing quickly and all he wants to do is get back to normal and figure out a way to be with the woman he loves. Numerous battles of epic proportions ensue, but what really sells this film is how we as viewers come to start rooting for this character. Eventually, he joins forces with the aliens and as the movie ends that is actually where it begins.
In the end District 9 s because it plays politics but it isn't overt in how this is done. This movie is an action film, mixed with comedy, mixed with a solid story that doesn't make the mistake of trying to overly humanize all the characters.
Neill Blomkamp sits back and talks about making this film. He discusses setting up the shots, the logistics of pulling off the effects that we see at work here, and what it was like with a cast of unknowns when he was essentially one himself. He seems likable enough and I got the sense from this track that he was pretty genuine. I really liked hearing about how he pre-visualized a lot of the shots. There was a great deal of preproduction work that went into pulling off the look of this film and all of that appears like it was used to good effect.
The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log
If you are short on time then I would highly suggest watching this three part documentary on the making of this film. It has a rich quality to it that takes the viewer on the journey that Blomkamp went on in order to make this film. We get to see how the effects were tested, how the actors got involved and how the screenplay was worked on in order to make this movie achieve the look that it did. Sure, it covers much of the same ground as the commentary track, but if you are short on time I think that this section gets the job done a little better.
1.85:1 - Widescreen. I was somewhat disappointed by how dark this movie looked on standard DVD. To be honest I feel that there are movies that should only be on DVD. I also feel that there are movies that should only be on Blu-ray disc. This is one of those movies that I think would probably play better on Blu-ray as it would have more space to breath. There is so much happening visually that compressing that down can only do the film a disservice. Director of Photography Trent Opaloch has done a very fine job of giving this movie a war torn, gritty look, but also leaving enough room for the effects to be able to present themselves.
Dolby Digital. English, French 5.1 - Dolby Digital. Subtitled in English and French. Close Captioned. The audio on this release was solid. I didn't watch this movie on my HDTV but rather on my 13" television set. I feel that this standard DVD retained a lot of the bigness, audio-wise, that this movie had when I watched it in the theater. Also, the soundtrack to this movie really gives District 9 an almost epic feel.
The main spaceship in the film hovers over the Johannesburg slum that the aliens reside in. The back cover features 4 shots from this film, two of which showcase the aforementioned aliens. There is a description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
I will be the first to admit that when I first heard about District 9 I was dubious. I was interested in seeing the film but then I watched a trailer where the Wikus character (or someone) is trying to interview the aliens. This film looked terrible and I quickly gave up on it. Then, the folks at MovieWeb took me to see it for my birthday, and I was quickly proved wrong.
Mixing elements of the U.S. and it's policies on immigration and "illegal aliens," South Africa and their own dark history with apartheid, a military machine gone out of control, and a lot science fiction, it isn't surprising that District 9 caught fire in the way that it did. Also, when you factor in how amazing the effects look, this movie had a lot going for it and since it delivers it is readily apparent that this DVD and Blu-ray disc will be with us for years to come.
Right now Avatar is all the rage but District 9 bests it in the area that matters most... solid storytelling.