Thursday, November 4, 2010

District 9

I finally saw District 9 yesterday. It's a 2009 film directed by Neill Blomkamp set in a future Johannesburg. It's about aliens who have come to Earth and who quickly become an oppressed underclass (sort of like the 1980's film Alien Nation). There's been good word of mouth on D9 and it got nominated for a best picture Oscar. I've been looking forward to it, but I have to say that I was ever so slightly disappointed. It's ideas are a bit stale and the last third of the flick lacks ambition and imagination. Wikipedia informs me that "the story, adapted from Alive in Joburg, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp and produced by Copley, pivots on the themes of xenophobia and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by events that took place in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era," which is fair enough but the metaphor is handled pretty heavily. For me D9 is the paradigm case of overly high expectations: if I had discovered this film on a Friday night at one in the morning I'd probably think it was a minor masterpiece, but unfortunately because of that sloppy final act and the overpraise I don't. It is however extremely well acted and surprisingly funny (the comic timing of the lead actor is terrific). I don't know, I hate to diss this film when the studios are turning out Transformers 3 and Indiana Jones IV, I guess I just expected more from producer Peter Jackson who really should have pushed Blomkamp that little bit harder on the script. Alien for example had a dozen drafts of the screenplay until they got everything just right. District 9 could have done with two or three more.