This New Alien May Spawn For Generations

16/09/2009 at 2:50 pm 3 comments

STUFF I LIKE #1: District 9

In 1979, Ridley Scott broke the horror genre wide open with Alien. What could easily have been another B-Movie was expertly cast and spawned three excellent sequels and a couple of ghastly spin-offs over almost thirty years (and counting, although the execrable AVP2 may have killed any further installments in their tracks). Just about any sci-fi-horror film made since is in the same mould – although few, if any will claim such an influence over audiences.

It remains to be seen whether District 9 will generate the same cult status – but there’s no doubt that director Neill Blomkamp is staking a claim for science-fiction sainthood in a similar vein. This is an original, modern science fiction film. Not an easy feat in a genre which has been flogged within an inch of its life by hackneyed and lazy writing. This is as much a horror-action-thriller as it is a probing political question about border control and Humanity – little wonder it’s coming out of South Africa where such things are inescapable from daily life. It’s hard to imagine a film of such complex morality coming through the Hollywood system.

Under the watchful guidance of Peter Jackson, Blomkamp portrays this quite blatant political allegory in a quasi-documentary fashion, through the eyes of a hapless bureaucrat Wikas. Mixing up interviews with ‘archival’ news footage is a tricky technique, especially with such a demanding subject matter as alien contact. Jackson’s slavish attention to detail is evident in the effects and makeup, which enables the lo-fi approach to the cinematography to blend easily with moments of traditional narrative staging. Not that there’s a lot of time to notice – the story steams ahead with humour and poignancy and plenty of alien gunk for the masses. Sharlto Copley’s extraordinary portrayal of Wikas creates some real empathy as the complexities of his journey settle into being.

And that’s where this film stands alone. By making the political allegory so transparent his audience is able to skip straight to the action, ignoring narrative niceties like creating the ‘Ordinary World’ – this world is one of transition, epic change and uncertainty, so when things start to unravel – you really wonder where this might end. And that’s why I’m predicting District 9 to be another cinematic milestone in science-fiction. There’s almost certainly a sequel or two in the planning (as is the fashion nowadays – nobody makes just one blockbuster anymore) – the franchise could quite literally go in any direction.

With nods to the sci-fi-horror classics and some classic Peter Jackson splatter in the mix, you can watch it with cultural awareness or simply enjoy the fun. If successful it should spawn a league of imitators as intelligent action films with moral ambiguity become de rigeur. In years to come though I suspect the original will prove hard to shake.

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Entry filed under: Film REVIEW, Stuff I Like. Tags: , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DennisVega  |  01/10/2009 at 3:28 am

    Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please 🙂

  • 2. anvildrops  |  06/10/2009 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Dennis

    I haven’t got an rss function installed on the blog yet – but twitter will enable you to follow new posts as they come up, please follow @fivewalls


  • […] posts on District 9, The Wire and Survivor will be classified as #1, 2 & 3 – although the order is arbitrary, […]


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