If you haven’t already seen Alive In Joburg, the short movie on which District 9 is based, you might want to check it out before heading to the cinema to catch out this year’s most original feature, and possibly one of the best alien invasion movies to ever be committed to celluloid. But don’t think that you need to watch Neill Blomkamp’s short before hitting the cinema, as the film on its own is no less impressive.
Part documentary, part action film and part fable showing the darker side of human nature, District 9 takes place in Johannesburg where documentary footage, news feeds and expert interviews tell us that, twenty years previously, an alien ship came to a stop over the city. With no apparent reason, an exploratory mission to the ship finds it full of sick aliens with no leader, who are given a home in a refugee camp underneath the ship, the District 9 of the title. Twenty years later, racial tensions are rife between humans and the aliens (given the derogatory name “prawns” because of their appearance), and in an attempt to ease the situation, the government employs the MNU agency (Multi-National United) to evict the aliens and move them to a new camp outside of the city. Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is placed in charge of the field operation by his father-in-law and boss, but things go awry when he is exposed to a black fluid from an alien weapon, the film taking on a much more personal tone as Wikus develops an illness only the aliens might be able to help him with.
In 2005, the short film Alive in Joburg provided an unusual look at the alien invasion film, chiefly because, as a South African production, there wasn’t a flying saucer floating over the White House and threatening to blow it up. District 9, the full-length take on the same film, takes a news-crew mockumentary-style look at a ghetto outside Johannesburg, inhabited by aliens who share a tense peace with the authorities in the area.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp, District 9 expands on the original short, now produced by Peter Jackson. The film maintains much of the same cast, storylines and similar effects, but the trailer below looks impressive, and even manages to hold its own when you look at the trailers for the rest of this year’s big films (like Terminator: Salvation.)
District 9 is due out August/September 2009. The full Alive In Joburg can be found under the link. Read more…