Tuesday, September 29, 2009

District 9: aliens love their children too

District 9 could have been just another alien sci-fi movie except for the location and the lead. Johannesburg is an apt place to establish a ghetto for the unwanted, in this case the 'prawns' whose spaceship has been parked over the city for 20 years.

Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, produced the film which was directed by Neill Blomkamp. We take the computer assisted special effects for granted these days, but the prawns unusual bodies were cleverly created. Under their hard shells they have soft hearts.

Wikipedia details the parallels with South Africa's District 6, and its forced removals under the apartheid system.

The film has most of the hackneyed plot devices we have come to loathe or love depending on our personal viewing needs. We have the visit, xenophobia, segregation, the experiments, fugitive on the run, the break-in, the chase, the shootout and self sacrifice.

Most of the characters are stereotypes: the greedy capitalists, the Nigerian gang, the misunderstood aliens, the blood thirsty mercenary, even the unlikely hero.

But it is the casting and performance of Sharlto Copley as Afrikaans Wikus Van De Merwe, the dedicated company man from Multi-National United, that saves this otherwise ordinary tale. He carries off the role of the dag (dork) who finds courage, exceptionally well for a very inexperienced cinema actor.

There is an extensive official website that includes games and other fun stuff for those who are that way inclined.

Even if it's not your favourite genre, don't write District 9 off your list of potentials.

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