It's been a very, very long time since I walked out of a movie theater and felt the way I did today. Over the years, I've seen a lot of great films and even a few that were so special as to stick with me to this day, but I must admit, walking into District 9, I never for a second thought that this would be one of those films. Six hours later, I'm still stunned by what I saw and I imagine it's going to take quite some time for the magnitude of what I saw to actually settle in. In an era where Hollywood trys to hit you over the head and appeal to the lowest common denominator, great films aren't supposed to be made. District 9 is a great film and one that will change the way you think about movies.
I'm a huge fan of science fiction and while there have been a few smart and satisfying films of late, Sunshine being the best example, all too often what passes for science fiction is pure crap. Not since the early 1980's has the genre seen a film that compares to District 9. Ridley Scott's masterpiece Blade Runner and James Cameron's Aliens, are the benchmark for great science fiction and cinimea in general. Blade Runner has long been my all time favorite film with Aliens not far behind. Both movies are visually stunning, incredibly intelligent and as amazing today as they were all those years ago. District 9 deserves to be ranked with both and I suspect that 30 years from now, District 9 will still be seen as a masterpiece.
What makes the film so special is that it is everything that Hollywood is not. Producer Peter Jackson gave $30 million to unknown commercial and short film director Neil Blomkamp and told him to make whatever movie he wanted. The native of Johannesburg, South Africa expanded on his totally cool short film Alive in Joburg, casting unknown South African actors who all deliver a tour de force. Setting the film in Johannesburg, an urban hell hole if there ever was one, was brilliant. The memory of apartheid is always lurking as the movie shows what happens when alien refugees, not wanted by residents of Joburg, are moved into segregated areas of the city and forced to live in deplorable conditions.
If you see only one film this year, make it District 9.
Here is Alive in Joburg...
What the trailers here.