By Keith Gibson
Let me start by saying this: only a handful of original science fiction films make it to the big-screen every year; fewer still deserve critical acclaim and praise. “District 9” is a rare piece of cinema, well-deserving of both.
First-time feature-film director Neil Blomkamp – under the steady hand of Peter Jackson – brings “District 9” to stunning life, immersing us in a world where aliens and humans co-exist – sort-of.
The aliens are refugees, forced to live in a camp called District 9, a reference to the infamous District 6 in Cape Town, South Africa. Meanwhile, the large umbrella corporation known as Multi-National United (MNU) has been contracted to manage District 9 and its non-human inhabitants.
Wikus van de Merwe, a white-collar manager at MNU, is tasked to lead a high-importance project into District 9 by MNU executives. Here, as they say, is where the trouble begins.
The pacing of the film from this moment on is vigorous and seldom ceases until the film’s conclusion. Blomkamp’s run-and-gun style (matching the pacing to a tee) serves as the film’s core in all aspects. The cinematography is loose, documentarian. The action is quick, the acting – which was largely improvised – Spartan and sincere.
One would think that Sharlto Copley, the man playing MNU agent Wikus, is an accomplished and learned actor based upon his tremendous performance, but in fact, this is his first go at it.
As is necessary to create realism, the alien creatures are marvelously rich and detailed. The CGI is blended beautifully with the human characters and environments. The aliens are just as real as the people in this film. They display deep, profound emotion not only in their face, but in their whole being. A few select shots demonstrate this. They will rock you to your core.
“District 9” is undoubtedly one of the best films of the summer and one of the best sci-fi films in recent years. It is a must-see not only for the reasons listed above, but also because if it does do well, perhaps we will see similar originality in future summer seasons.
In a time when sequels and rebooted franchises are Hollywood’s lone focus, gems like “District 9” need to be seen so we can enjoy more like it in the future.
“District 9” opens in theaters Friday, August 14.