|INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)|
|Cinema Signal: Go! Original all the way.|
Sing Like an American Idol, Women's Edition
Everything You Need to Sing the Hits!
(Discounted Paperback (with CD) from Amazon)
What auteur Neill Blomkamp would have you believe in his distopian vision of Johannesburg, South Africa, is that a jagunda space ship came to earth some 20 plus years ago and lost the module that gave it navigational power, leaving it to hover over the city like a dirigible of doom.
At first, they expected a hostile attack, but it never came. Instead, Johannesburgers discovered an alien population within the craft, which they kindly transferred to a makeshift terrestrial area for their otherworldly visitors not unlike a Brazilian favela.
For all this time the aliens, designed by Image Engine of Canada from the Goliath beetle and which look like a cyborg experiment in an underwater metal shop, fought for survival, dreamed of their home planet, and procreated, with their mother ship in the sky over them like an inert protective shell, visually akin to the space ship in "Independence Day."
The aliens have no facility to speak English, though they understand it, as humans have learned to understand their sounds of clicks and beeps. The privately owned Multi-National United (MNU) company has been commissioned to keep order in the increasingly troublesome District, which it does with personnel tanks, planes, helicopters and a battery of weaponry.
Before tensions reach the breaking point, MNU decides to evict non-humans from District 9 and move them to a tented encampment miles away. All this background data is reported to us with news and interview footage by a collection of experts (rather stunningly by Sylvaine Strike as Dr. Katrina McKenzie) and with a running, into-the-camera narrative by Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), the Afrikaaner appointed to head up the eviction operation through a process of nepotism.
Playing it for the news cameras, Wikus shows a denial of danger easily confused with blind courage. The man is naive, daft or smugly brave as he charges up to the doors of the shacks like a census taker on steroids, his mouth going a mile a minute dealing with all manner of unexpected reaction from the aliens. But his foppish enthusiasm doesn't allow him to see or understand exactly what he's stirring up and how he's stumbling into a trouble pot the likes of which will change his self-aggrandizing, obstinately-peachy speech like a spit shine losing its shine in cattle muck.
He will be disowned by his company, his wife, his friends. MNU will unleash its deadliest forces against him, and all he'll have left are the cat food sellers and a singularly decent and intelligent Prawn father with a genius young son who have something everyone's been looking for for years. Oh, and one more thing. Wikus will become prized all over again for his sudden ability to fire the alien weapons.
The basis of the action is a great achievement of style and concept but it owes almost everything to a number of predecessors. "Independence Day," for one; The subjective video camera presence and breathless pace of "Cloverfield," and its forerunner, "The Blair Witch Project" for two others. David Cronenberg's "The Fly" fits in for another reason. But for all the debt to films that Blomkamp may owe, he's given us an original.
The satire is pronounced; the irony is finely cut; the humor is rich and organic; the horrific is plenty slimy; and, the kick in the guts to human nature is properly disturbing. The writing and direction is a superb realization of all that plus all the technical challenges of sci-fi action and destruction. Small wonder that a filmmaker like Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings") made such an exciting piece of work possible with financial backing.
~~ Jules Brenner