Movie Marathon #6: District 9
Recently, I went to see Elysium. Unfortunatley, I can’t review it here as I already did so for one of the sites that pays me to write for them here, so I’ll have to bloody well satisfy myself with Neil Blomkamp’s electric debut, Distric 9.
Now, I LOVE sci-fi movies; I love movies in general, granted, but boy-oh-boy-oh I love me some sci-fi. From the momen my dad handed me my first book of Philip K. Dick short stories to the first time I saw Alien, I’ve been fascinated by how people view the future. As I got older, I became a little disenchated with the super high-tech, glossy version of days to come, and found myself leaning more toward a Bladerunner-style grottiness; I loved writers and directors who created their future as a kind of nasty, dirty, unpleasant world of shuderring awfulness. But that’s because I’m wierd.
I thought I’d seen every variation there was to be seen on this idea. That’s why it took me so damn long to get around to District 9; an unknwon actor, a big action move, some aliens, the future’s shite, etc. Yeah, yeah. But, one day (the very day my brother left for university, bizarrely, though this is neither here nor there), I was slouching around the house with nothing to do and decided to watch it.
And it’s brilliant. Truly, mandly, wonderfully brilliant. First off, you’ve got that intriguing premise- when aliens DO get to us, we bung them in a ghetto in Johnanesburg and try to keep them off our streets and give them derogatory nicknames (yeah, so, Blomkamp hadn’t quite got his head around the idea of “subtext” yet). Then throw in the documentary format of following Wikus- a propely stunning big-time debut from Sharlto Copley (whose name I didn’t know for so long I began to refer to him as “Wikus” in my head)- a government offical, as he begins the process of moving the “prawns” to a larger, safer commune far and away from any human contact. It’s a sympathetic film; warm, intelligent, with smatterings of humour throughout that show Blomkamp doesn’t quite take himself too seriously. It’s emotional without being cloying; exciting without going overboard, and creative without trying to smack us in the face with a big stick that says “LOOK HOW FUCKING TALENTED I AM! DICKS!”.
Copley is the real human heart of the film (excuse the pun-ishment), an innocent, slightly dim guy who ends up working against the Collusus of the media manipulation of the events surrounding his exploits, while simulateneously fighting for his life and his right to carry on living the way he was used to. It’s a great role for a kind-of debut; almost Shakesperean in it’s tragedy, while also maintaining some of Wikus’ humanity and flawed, naive nature. Copley rips it to shreds. Pun not intended but enjoyed.