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PHOTOGRAPHY

DISTRICT 9 (2-Disc Edition)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  112 minutes, director audio commentary, making-of documentary, deleted scenes, four behind-the-scenes featurettes

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO: English 5.1, French 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, English Descriptive Track

Subtitles:  English, French (Disc 1)

                 English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese (Disc 2)

 

STUDIO: Tristar Pictures/ Wingnut Films/ QED

Theatrical RELEASE DATE:  8-14-2009

DVD RELEASE DATE:  12-22-2009

ANALYSIS:

Aliens dubbed as Prawns have arrived in a big spaceship (over Johannesburg, South Africa) twenty years ago.  The two million insectiod aliens have been segregated into crowded and dangerous slums.  Nigerian criminals have been exploiting the Prawns by charging high prices for cat food and even trading cat food for alien weapons they can’t even work (it’s a DNA thing)  The prawns eat cat food like it’s a drug or catnip to them.  Meanwhile, the South African government has called in MNU (Multi National United- a business conglomerate) to evict the Prawns from District 9 and move them to a new location 250 km away to a place known as District 10.  Wikis Van De Merwe (newcomer Sharlto Copley who comes off like a smart nerdy version of Borat at first) is heading the team to evict the prawns from District 9 in less than honest ways.  Meanwhile, two of the prawns plan to find a way home.   Wikis accidentally gets exposed to the fluid that the aliens have been collecting for 20 years.  Wikis starts transforming and escapes from MNU custody after they want to dissect him for his mutating DNA.   He forms an unlikely partnership with one of the Prawns, Christopher Brown, as he tries to find a way to fix what is happening to him.

 

DISTRICT 9 is in many ways an awesomely insane and intelligent sci-fi action film.    It explores what could happen to aliens (that don’t look like us) if they got stranded here.   Then you have a man who doesn’t want to be a hero as he wants to get back to his wife he was forced to leave behind due to being exposed to alien DNA.    The movie combines documentary footage and video camera footage with what looks like a regular movie to get a dazzling hybrid unlike anything anyone has seen for a while.   DISTRICT 9 is thought provoking along with a little humor.  The film you can compare it to would be ROBOCOP.   DISTRICT 9 is this year’s ROBOCOP.   It manages to mix commentary on today’s issues with humor and action just like what the first ROBOCOP did.

 

First time feature film director Neill Blomkamp comes up with an exciting and imaginative $30 million dollar sci-fi film in what amounts to what you can do with a small budget if you plan it out.   DISTRICT 9 was filmed in South Africa with Peter Jackson as producer.  Jackson and Blomkamp put together DISTRICT 9 after Blmokamp’s first chance at directing fell through after 20th Century Fox and universal bulked at a first time director handling a $145 million adaptation of the HALO video game.  I wonder if the same guys who decided Blokmkamp couldn’t handle HALO are banging their heads against the wall after seeing how well DISTRICT 9 will do at the box office.   The film does leave open enough threads open for a sequel (DISTRICT 10, anyone?).   

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Disc 1 has an audio commentary by Director Neill Blomkamp.  Also 22 deleted scenes are included which mostly flesh out the documentary part of the film more.   The other extra (besides previews for several movies) is the three-part documentary, THE ALIEN AGENDA: A FILMMAKER’S LOG (Envisioning District 9, Shooting District 9, Refining District 9) which goes into how the film came to be, shooting it, and the post-production work.   The director said it was a steep learning curve when making DISTRICT 9.

 

Disc 2 has more previews and four behind-the-scenes featurettes-

METAMORPHOSIS: THE TRANSFORMATION OF WIKUS- a look at the prosthetics and make-up effects that Sharlto Copley goes through for the transformation of Wikus

INNOVATION: ACTING AND IMPROVISATION- the script of the film allowed the actors to improve and Sharlto Copely could do something different with each take without skipping a beat

CONCEPTION AND DESIGN: CREATING THE WORLD OF DISTRICT 9- a look at the production design from the alien weapons to MNU look and the design work of the Prawns.

ALIEN GENERATION: VISUAL EFFECTS- the complications of filming and creating the aliens.  They used a guy in a grey motion capture suit and replace him with an animated alien.  Also the improve filming style of the film added difficulties to the animator’s work

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  DISTRICT 9 is one of the best sci-fi films of the year witha  few good DVD extras.  Too bad they couldn't include the original theatrical trailer and the short film (ALIVE IN JOBURG) that the movie is expanded from.

 

The DVD review is (c)12-25-2009 David Blackwell and the movie review is (c)8-14-2009 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com