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District 9 [Blu-ray]
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From producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startlingly original sciencefiction thriller that "soars on the imagination of its creators" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). With stunning special effects and gritty realism, the film plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed... only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he will discover what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.
A provocative science fiction drama, District 9 boasts an original story that gets a little lost in blow-'em-up mayhem. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, District 9 begins as a mock documentary about the imminent eviction of extraterrestrials from a pathetic shantytown (called District 9). The creatures, it turns out, have been on Earth for years, having arrived sickly and starving. Initially received by humans with compassion and care, the aliens are now mired in blighted conditions typical of long-term refugee camps unwanted by a hostile, host society. With the creatures' care contracted out to a for-profit corporation, the shantytown has become a violent slum. The aliens sift through massive piles of junk while their minders secretly research weapons technology that arrived on the visitors' spacecraft.
Against this backdrop is a more personal story about a bureaucrat named Wikus (Sharlto Copley) who is accidentally exposed to a DNA-altering substance. As he begins metamorphosing into one of the creatures, Wikus goes on the run from scientists who want to harvest his evolving, new parts and aliens who see him as a threat. When he pairs up with an extraterrestrial secretly planning an escape from Earth, however, what should be a fascinating relationship story becomes a series of firefights and explosions. Nuance is lost to numbing violence, and the more interesting potential of the film is obscured. Yet, for a while District 9 is a powerful movie with a unique tale to tell. Seamless special effects alone are worth seeing: the (often brutal) exchanges between alien and human are breathtaking. --Tom Keogh
District 9 downloadables (Click for pdf file)
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- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 7 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches; 4.16 Ounces
- Item model number : 6639411
- Director : Neill Blomkamp
- Media Format : Blu-ray, Anamorphic, Color, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 52 minutes
- Release date : December 22, 2009
- Actors : Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Mandla Gaduka, William Young
- Dubbed: : French
- Subtitles: : English, French, Hindi
- Producers : Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B002SJIO5E
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #30,754 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I saw this movie when it came out in the theaters and was immediately struck with how remarkable the story turns out to be. It is the tale of aliens who are stranded on earth and are placed in "slums" in Johannesburg, South Africa. The living conditions are deplorable and the treatment of the aliens, in many ways, parallels that of refugees from many nations throughout the last 20+ years. Copley, the company man, finds himself in a situation that makes him change is views on the aliens. The film has action, science fiction, and is very thought-provoking as well. This movie continues to be one of my favorite science fiction films!
1) A compelling story: Filmed in part documentary/part action film style, the viewer is rapidly drawn into the story and the plight of the protaganist(s). A great story that keeps the viewer engaged with an adrenalin rush to the end.
2) Thought-provoking themes: Animal testing, racism and xenophobia, loyalties, the reach of big corporations, questions of humanity...and how do we treat others who look differently from us?
3) High quality production: No cheesy aliens-- it's entirely believable and fresh. The integration of the aliens and space ship(s) in the scenes are seamless, as well as the fight scenes.
One negative: I was disappointed only by the acting of the father-in-law. While his motivations were understood on the surface, very little substance seemed to be underneath-- which led me to feel the character was not well developed-- although he played a pivotal part in the protagonist's plight.
The movie is a great mix of sci-fi and action. The aliens were very original. They looked like walking bugs. Once Wikus is on the run he gets to blowing things up and using alien technology.
Another thing that made District 9 so good was the story. It was completely unexpected. One moment Wikus is trying to evict the aliens and the next moment he’s turning into one. The story also has a twist about what he finds out about the aliens, and the ending was very bitter sweet.
The was also the messaging. The aliens in the camp mirrored South African Apartheid. It was a giant shanty town with a wall around it and heavily policed by armed guards that had no problem shooting down an alien if they did anything wrong. There was a special unit that was sent in when there was trouble that was known for their abusive tactics. There were signs all over Johannesburg saying no aliens were allowed in any public space. They were called prawns to denigrate them. The mistreatment led to riots by the aliens. These all happened under apartheid. The aliens symbolized how blacks were formerly treated under the racist South African government. Like the aliens they were not considered humans. They were separated from society and told they didn’t belong. Their lives were not valued, and the authorities could do anything they wanted to them.
If you like science fiction District 9 is a must see. The plot is great and its underlying message about South Africa’s past is an added bonus.
Top reviews from other countries
As with most such films, there is conflict between humans and the aliens as they attempt to integrate into our culture, albeit within the confines of some rather Nazi-esque compounds where the aliens are kept, and within this there is a very heavy undertone highlighting the often uncomfortable realities of segregation between races when one is in a position of strength/higher power. I think the film does this very well - it doesn't gloss over the horrors of such a reality, but doesn't focus on it so heavily that it forgets to include plenty of humour and entertainment in the film too. With that said, despite often being softened slightly by the fact that its mostly CGI aliens we see being mistreated or killed, it does have some very violent moments with plenty of blood/goo delivered unsparingly to hammer the point home.
The aliens and their technology still look pretty good by today's standards, the story is interesting and delivered in a relatively unique way - enough so that it never feels like its treading old ground - and the brutal assessment of the uglier side of human nature is balanced very well with the wonder of what such futures might exist beyond us.
This is one of very few found-footage/moc-doc style films I have enjoyed from start to finish and not felt that the film has suffered due to this style of shooting, and together with a brilliant (and often comical) performance from Sharlto Copley throughout I find it a really enjoyable and easy film to watch, despite the sometimes heavy undertone.
A sequel seems unlikely after all this time, although would be much appreciated, but fortunately this film has enough going for it to hold a good re-watch factor so is definitely still worth getting as it approaches its 10th birthday.
Unlike most found footage films, the first half hour or so works surprisingly well because this is a richly imagined environment with a lot of fascinating detail to fill in, managing to do it without seeming like pure exposition by contrasting the attitudes of the humans - mostly exploitative - with the violent aliens they barely co-exist with because their cultures are so incompatible. The parallels with South Africa's segregated past are very much to the fore, with the mostly white security forces treating the `prawns' as children who only respond to bribery or force, but rather than opt for the easy bad white guys option, the black South Africans treat them exactly the same way the white South Africans treated them back in the bad old days: they don't want them in their neighborhoods, don't want them taking good jobs that should be theirs, and want them kept in their place. The prejudices, superstitions and the lack of any attempt to understand each other are vividly conveyed with surprising economy and energy as we follow the initial stages of the eviction process, the film mutating along with its hero from mock-doc to chase movie as everyone from his father-in-law to Nigerian gangsters literally wants a piece of him.
Aside from excellent special effects and a wonderful level of cluttered detail, what really sells it is Sharlto Copley's remarkable lead performance, which is a world away from the normal sci-fi hero. He's a bundle of nervous energy as the front office geek who's been promoted beyond his abilities by virtue of marrying the bosses daughter, enjoys his work - aborting alien eggs is a particular source of childish joy - and even after he finds himself becoming one of them remains resolutely self-centred. He doesn't play for sympathy and he doesn't deserve it, yet despite being the kind of character who is usually just throwaway comic relief in most movies he remains a compellingly amoral yet believable centre for all the moral mayhem. Even as the body count mounts in the shoot `em up finale, he remains a credibly pathetic figure driven more by fear than heroism. It's a funny and impressive performance in a darkly funny and often exhilarating bit of smarter than expected scifi.
The extras are better than expected too, with the 22 deleted scenes, mostly from the first third of the film, surprisingly worthwhile. They would have slowed the picture down too much had they been kept in, but they show just how richly the filmmakers developed the social and political background, with an interview with the black American CEO of the security firm cheerfully insisting, Boer style, that the aliens' ship is categorically not their ship and therefore they have no rights to it a particular gem. There's also a three part documentary on the DVD and director's commentary while, as usual, Blu-ray buyers get additional featurettes that are also on the US NTSC two-disc edition and an interactive feature on the central shanty town.
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