I first heard about director Neill Blomkamp along with the news that Peter Jackson was going to be producing a movie version of the hugely popular video game series Halo. Then to coincide with the release of Halo 3 on the X-Box 360, Blomkamp directed a series of adverts for the game. These ads turned the video game battles into real life action, which many tipped as Blomkamp’s vision for what the eventual Halo movie would look like. My brother even got to be in one of the adverts, getting pinned to a wall by one of the alien weapons!
Alas, due to many factors, the movie never came out and as he was looking to head back to his native South Africa, but the idea was put to him to turn one of his old short films into a feature film. That idea eventually turned into the movie I’m reviewing today, District 9, which was produced by Peter Jackson.
Sharlto Copley plays Wikus van de Merwe, a government agent given the difficult role of evicting an alien species that stranded themselves on Earth more than 20 years earlier and who have since become ghetto dwellers in the slums of Johannesburg. When Wikus is accidently sprayed by an alien substance, his DNA gets infected and he starts to change into one of the aliens. Wikus then has to change roles and instead work with the aliens to try and help them escape the slums and get back to their mother ship, which is hovering over the city, while at the same time hoping they can cure his mutation and return him back to his original state.
The whole concept is actually inspired by true events that took place in District Six in Cape Town in South Africa under apartheid. District 6 was declared a “whites only” area in 1966 by the apartheid government and over the ensuing years 60,000 people were physically removed to another slum 25 kilometres away.
Using a documentary style of film making, as well as a more main stream format, this film blurred the lines of the modern audience concept of how a film is put together. As I am very interested in different cross platforms for telling a story on film, it got me really excited seeing it pulled off so well. Despite a slightly boring middle third of the film, I felt it delivered a very solid action sci-fi adventure and, considering it only cost $30 million to make, I can see it going on to be hugely successful at the box office.
9 out of 10 from me.