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Fred Stops in at District 9

Published August 13, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures
District 9 Poster District 9
District 9 is part Starship Troopers, part Mad Max, part Aliens and part The Fly. Peter Jackson let Neil Blomkamp make his Bad Taste but with all of Jackson’s expensive toys.

Review: District 9

The documentary style actually does establish reality. Unlike in those B.S. movies where a shaking camera thinly justifies ridiculous happenings, District 9 is actually shot like a professional documentary. They us a tripod. Even video footage is locked off and moving shots are steady. This is a narrative, not just some amateurs letting a camera run on the fly. When the camera does shake, it’s because there’s something so intense, even professionals can’t hold it steady. It actually gets shakier when the film transitions into fictional structure, which is an interesting artistic decision, not an arbitrary gimmick.

It is a profound satire of the highest order. Of course it’s the immigration debate. It’s racism, relocation, internment. Who are the real monsters indeed? It just explores every possible facet of the premise. It can be fun, scary, smart and classy.

The story is a real journey with catharsis, like all stories should be but often aren’t. It’s a three or four pronged conflict so that’s a lot to handle. The military are not just some stock baddies. They are skilled enough to be a real threat, at least the leader of the troops is. You really feel this bond between the human and alien, even with some familiar buddy action beats. It’s got that Peter Jackson style of building action sequences where just every possible thing that could happen happens in the scene.

The aliens look real. They are in the scene. They look like fabulous costumes, even though they are also CGI. So look at this, Hollywood. This is what CGI can look like. You have no excuse.

This is so much better than if Neil Blomkamp had done a video game movie. This is what Independence Day should have been. The aliens actually impact society, not just destroying it for easy black and white action.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Sony Pictures

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