From producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startingly original science-fiction thriller that 'soars on the imagination of its creators'. With stunning special effects and gritty realism, the film plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed...only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizzare back alleys of an alien shantytow, he will discover what is means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.
Okay, so how did a movie helmed by first time feature director Neill Blomkamp manage to garner four Academy Awards nominations (a Best Picture nomination amongst them too), seven British Academy Film Awards nominations, five Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations and one Golden Globe nomination? By headlining Peter Jackson as the film’s producer? By featuring an innovative science fiction story with lots of social commentaries? By employing sophisticated computer graphics to good use and creating stunning special effects? We’d say: All those and probably more.
After making a series of short films, Blomkamp adapts one of his previous works Alive in Joburg (2005) into a feature length movie which tells the story of a bureaucrat who has to relocate a race of extra terrestrial creatures stranded on Earth. These offensive creatures that are insultingly known as “prawns” live in slums, and our protagonist will soon discover dark secrets which will threaten his very continuation on Earth as a human being.
One can imagine the limitless imagination unleashed during the creation of this movie. Writers Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell have created a gritty and sometimes frightening world where human beings have to live with the existence of the extraterrestrial beings. Intentionally made to appear intimidating and fear provoking, these squeamish creatures are not only a feat and milestone in special effects creation, they are also a testament of how the independent filmmakers have aptly tapped on the power of imagination to construct characters to evoke emotions from audiences.
After being wowed by the technical aspects of the movie (it is an impressively enduring visual journey of how the creatures, obviously computer generated, interact and engage with real human beings in the film), do leave some room for pondering about the themes presented in the film. Strong messages of enforced evictions, inhumane cruelty, racial discrimination and intolerance are fiercely put across throughout the film. In fact, this would be a perfect curriculum resource for academics to research and analyse on the current volatile political situations around the world.
It also helps that an unknown cast has been chosen to play the characters in the film. The male protagonist is portrayed by Sharlto Copley, who is a producer and director himself. The South African actor fearlessly takes on the role of the mild mannered manager who gradually transforms into an alien, making viewers feel the heart wrenching emotions caused by the tragedy that befalls on this human being. The gut tugging plotline is as powerful as it gets, especially compared to many other mediocre Hollywood blockbusters. Other actors include Jason Cope, David James and William Allen Young in supporting roles which are similarly potently dynamic.
The movie may sound all heavy and serious, but the filmmakers did remember to maintain a certain standard of entertainment value, making sure that movie lovers would enjoy every second of its 112 minute runtime. Presented as a mockumentary inter spliced with interviews, this highly recommended production will guarantee an engaging journey of thrills and spills for everyone.
Beat that, you ugly blue things residing on Pandora.
This Code 3 DVD spoils viewers with a chockfull of extras. Interestingly, the Commentary with Director/ Co-writer Neill Blomkamp was recorded before the film was released commercially. Blomkamp had only shown the movie to an audience at Comic-Con. In this informative audio track, he talks about how he has always wanted to make a feature film with the simple concept of a Western science fiction set in South Africa. He elaborates further on other technical processes on how the “prawns” were created. You can feel Blomkamp’s personal satisfaction about completing the vision which he always had, and showing it to viewers around the world.
There are also a whopping total of 22 Deleted Scenes included on the disc, each at an average of a minute long. They don’t really add much to the already fantastic screenplay, but the fan in you would want to watch them all, Note that you would actually a human actor playing a “prawn” in some of them, as these are scenes before special effects were applied to the shots.
The Alien’s Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log is a three part documentary which gives you the insight of the production process of the movie. Chapter 1: Envisioning District 9 is a 34 minute featurette where the director and his cast and crew talk about what were the ingredients that went into the making of the movie. Listen to Peter Jackson talk about how he came onto the project as producer for a movie which was originally based on the video game Halo. The 17 minute Chapter 2: Shooting District 9 takes viewers to the set location and how the energetic scenes were shot. You can feel almost feel the dust irritating your eyes just by watching the numerous explosions going off in the shantytown. Chapter 3: Refining District 9 shows you the post production of the movie. Particularly interesting is how the strange talking sounds of the “prawns” were created.
We do not have any complaints about visual transfer of the movie. It is presented in its original English audio soundtrack.
Review by John Li
Posted on 11 April 2010