District 9 (2009)

District 9 (2009) — SECOND REVIEW (BLU-RAY, MAY 2010): The first time I saw this film I was blown away by the sheer scope of it.  But it all seemed very relatable on a human level.  What I noticed more this time around, now that I knew what to expect was the brilliant performance of leading man Sharlto Copley.  He starts the film appearing to be a callous bureaucrat, but even more than that kind of a giant dork.  The transformation he undergoes over the film is remarkable.  Not just the physical transformation which is somewhat evocative of the even-more-graphic one Jeff Goldblum undergoes in David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly, but more so the character arc he goes through.  Everything the audience sees is seen more-or-less through his eyes.  He brings the humanity to the film and does a damn fine job of it.  I am ridiculously glad this film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (an awards show that typically excludes science fiction) and I think it is far better than the film that ended up winning… FIRST REVIEW (IN THEATERS): So I knew little about this movie going into it save that it was part-mockumentary, part narrative about aliens being herded into a ghetto in South Africa and that since the director himself is South Africa that it all serves as an allegory for apartheid and the larger issue of discrimination in general.  Going into it that’s about all you should know, and you don’t even need to know the whole allegory thing because it becomes pretty obvious pretty soon in the movie.  The movie is great with a Paul Verhoeven-like blend of sci fi, action, gore, and heaps of social commentary [like good Verhoevan anyway: Robocop & Starship Troopers, not Showgirls].  The cast is a bunch of unknowns (stateside anyway, one guy looked sort of familiar and a few of them are probably known in South Africa) and that really helps immerse you in this word.  It feels a little long sometimes, but always interesting.  When the action starts (later in the movie then the trailers might lead you to believe) it is relentless, blood-spattering, and awesome.  Plus it makes you think, and who doesn’t like thinking?

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