Cinepub


Review: District 9 by Jamie
I don’t think it’ll come as much of a shock that I think this has been a pretty bad year for films. Sure, there was Star Trek and I liked The Watchmen more than some internet folks seemed to but things like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Friday the 13th just can’t be overlooked and oh how I wish they could be. I held out hope, however, for one shining jewel in this sea of mediocrity and downright awfulness and that hope lay in the hands of a movie set in South Africa which was odd because, and I’m sorry to any South Africans out there, I’m just not a big fan of that accent. I don’t know what it is, it just doesn’t appeal to my ears in the same way that, say, an Australian accent does.
Still I’d have to get over my inexplicable dislike for the South African accent because 2009’s place was entirely down to District 9… For me at least. Yes Star Trek was good but it essentially was nothing more than a big budget summer action flick with thousands of nods to the original series and Watchmen was good too but it was certainly no ‘The Dark Knight’. So did District 9 disappoint or did it leave me with a vague sense that maybe this year was worth something after all?
Well I’m happy to say that District 9 did not disappoint at all but it also certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. The film manages to blend several different genres which can be a little disconcerting at first but ultimately works to the films benefit. So what is District 9 about exactly, I hear you ask quickly followed up by a question concerning whether or not I can finish the next paragraph without the obvious crutch of posing myself a question.
Well the film begins with a documentary style segment which espouses some of the back story of the world of District 9. It seems that some twenty odd years ago a giant space ship appeared over the city of Johannesburg. Wow. If Lethal Weapon 2 has taught me anything it’s that South Africa in the 1980s is not a place that you want to accidentally end up in. Apparently it was full of racism and evil diplomats. So it is in this politically volatile landscape that mankind first finds that he is not alone in the universe. For months the spaceship hovers there doing absolutely nothing. Soon the South African government, feeling the eyes of the world bearing down upon them decide to investigate the strange craft. They fly some helicopters up to it, blow torch there way inside only to find a ship covered in a putrid decaying mess and a room filled with thousands of terrified insect-like aliens.
It seems as though these aliens work on some kind of caste system, much like ants on Earth, and all the members of the higher castes have died leaving a massive worker population with absolutely no direction. The South African government ferries the aliens down to the surface where they join the population of Johannesburg much to the chagrin of the general populace. Soon the Multi National United corporation or MNU offers to help South Africa with it’s alien problem and puts the creatures, labelled with the derogatory term ‘prawns’, into a special area known as District 9. Conflicts between the human and alien populations still arise however and plans are made to move the prawns into a new concentration campesque area known as District 10 many miles away from the human citizens of Johannesburg. This operation is over seen by new promoted Wikus Van De Merwe, a man with a fairly rich home life and a comfortable position as son-in-law of the company’s boss.
It’s not long after this that the film begins to intercut the documentary style with a more traditional summer blockbuster feel as well as borrowing and paying homage to a few other genres of film as well. It manages to incorporate action, adventure, socio-political themes, sci-fi, horror (with a very Fly-esque scene which had me looking away from the screen.) and even manages to throw in a little bit of a throwback to the old buddy cop films of the 80s… like Lethal Weapon 2. Everything eventually comes back to Lethal Weapon 2.
The film does have a message about apartheid, segregation and refugees but it isn’t particularly heavy handed about getting that message across. In fact I’d imagine it would be entirely possible to view this film without even thinking about it on any level deeper than seeing it as a plot point that helps further the story along. Admittedly you’d probably have to be kinda slow to take it that way but I’m just suggesting it’s possible. I’d also say that the message is fairly balanced addressing both the plight of the refugee prawns and the human population affected by their sudden appearance.
The film isn’t as serious as I thought it would be either with plenty of pieces of humour sprinkled liberally throughout including a picture suggesting that Wikus engages in some rather sexually rich activities with some of the prawns. Don’t get me wrong though, when the film wants to it can deliver some truly heart wrenching scenes particularly when making you feel sorry for some of the prawns, including what can only be described as an horrific abortion scene, and in particular one called Christopher Johnson and his offspring.
Well I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to pretty much leave it there. I’ll wind up by just addressing one point of criticism I’ve heard levelled against this film and that’s that it’s full of plot holes. Now I’ll admit there a few things that, upon first viewing, might not seem to add up but I can say that watching the film more than once definitely helped. I would classify these apparent plot holes more as mysteries that you’re supposed to think about for yourself and besides since this film did so well I’m sure some of them will be addressed in the inevitable sequel.
Well that’s my review of District 9. Sorry for not doing it earlier but festival don’t attend themselves. Laterz.

I don’t think it’ll come as much of a shock that I think this has been a pretty bad year for films. Sure, there was ‘Star Trek’ and I liked ‘Watchmen’ more than some internet folks seemed to but things like ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ just can’t be overlooked and oh how I wish they could be. I held out hope, however, for one shining jewel in this sea of mediocrity and downright awfulness and that hope lay in the hands of a movie set in South Africa which was odd because, and I’m sorry to any South Africans out there, I’m just not a big fan of that accent. I don’t know what it is, it just doesn’t appeal to my ears in the same way that, say, an Australian accent does.

Still I’d have to get over my inexplicable dislike for the South African accent because 2009’s place was entirely down to ‘District 9’… For me at least. Yes Star Trek was good but it essentially was nothing more than a big budget summer action flick with thousands of nods to the original series and Watchmen was good too but it was certainly no ‘The Dark Knight’. So did District 9 disappoint or did it leave me with a vague sense that maybe this year was worth something after all?

Well I’m happy to say that District 9 did not disappoint at all but it also certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. The film manages to blend several different genres which can be a little disconcerting at first but ultimately works to the films benefit. So what is District 9 about exactly, I hear you ask quickly followed up by a question concerning whether or not I can finish the next paragraph without the obvious crutch of posing myself a question.

Well the film begins with a documentary style segment which espouses some of the back story of the world of District 9. It seems that some twenty odd years ago a giant space ship appeared over the city of Johannesburg. Wow. If Lethal Weapon 2 has taught me anything it’s that South Africa in the 1980s is not a place that you want to accidentally end up in. Apparently it was full of racism and evil diplomats. So it is in this politically volatile landscape that mankind first finds that he is not alone in the universe. For months the spaceship hovers there doing absolutely nothing. Soon the South African government, feeling the eyes of the world bearing down upon them decide to investigate the strange craft. They fly some helicopters up to it, blow torch there way inside only to find a ship covered in a putrid decaying mess and a room filled with thousands of terrified insect-like aliens.

It seems as though these aliens work on some kind of caste system, much like ants on Earth, and all the members of the higher castes have died leaving a massive worker population with absolutely no direction. The South African government ferries the aliens down to the surface where they join the population of Johannesburg much to the chagrin of the general populace. Soon the Multi National United corporation or MNU offers to help South Africa with it’s alien problem and puts the creatures, labelled with the derogatory term ‘prawns’, into a special area known as District 9. Conflicts between the human and alien populations still arise however and plans are made to move the prawns into a new concentration campesque area known as District 10 many miles away from the human citizens of Johannesburg. This operation is over seen by new promoted Wikus Van De Merwe, a man with a fairly rich home life and a comfortable position as son-in-law of the company’s boss.

It’s not long after this that the film begins to intercut the documentary style with a more traditional summer blockbuster feel as well as borrowing and paying homage to a few other genres of film as well. It manages to incorporate action, adventure, socio-political themes, sci-fi, horror (with a very Fly-esque scene which had me looking away from the screen.) and even manages to throw in a little bit of a throwback to the old buddy cop films of the 80s… like Lethal Weapon 2. Everything eventually comes back to Lethal Weapon 2.

The film does have a message about apartheid, segregation and refugees but it isn’t particularly heavy handed about getting that message across. In fact I’d imagine it would be entirely possible to view this film without even thinking about it on any level deeper than seeing it as a plot point that helps further the story along. Admittedly you’d probably have to be kinda slow to take it that way but I’m just suggesting it’s possible. I’d also say that the message is fairly balanced addressing both the plight of the refugee prawns and the human population affected by their sudden appearance.

The film isn’t as serious as I thought it would be either with plenty of pieces of humour sprinkled liberally throughout including a picture suggesting that Wikus engages in some rather sexually rich activities with some of the prawns. Don’t get me wrong though, when the film wants to it can deliver some truly heart wrenching scenes particularly when making you feel sorry for some of the prawns, including what can only be described as an horrific abortion scene, and in particular one called Christopher Johnson and his offspring.

Well I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to pretty much leave it there. I’ll wind up by just addressing one point of criticism I’ve heard levelled against this film and that’s that it’s full of plot holes. Now I’ll admit there a few things that, upon first viewing, might not seem to add up but I can say that watching the film more than once definitely helped. I would classify these apparent plot holes more as mysteries that you’re supposed to think about for yourself and besides since this film did so well I’m sure some of them will be addressed in the inevitable sequel.

Well that’s my review of District 9. Sorry for not doing it earlier but festivals don’t attend themselves. Laterz.



5 Top Films Still To Come In 2009 by Jamie

As you may know by now, I’ve been pretty disappointed with 2009 so far. In general it’s been a pretty goddamn terrible year for films what with shit like Wolverine, Friday the 13th and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hitting the screens. Sure there have been some bright sparks here and there but overall, it’s been pretty awful. Now the year is over halfway through so shouldn’t we just give up entirely? No because there are still some films to be released that I hope might bring the years overall score up a little. Let’s look at he top 5 films I’m still looking forward to.

5: Inglorious Basterds (UK/US release date: 21/08/2009)

Yes, Tarantino’s WWII themed spaghetti-western comes in at number 5. It has his largest cast of speaking roles in a flim so far and tells the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who are on a mission to kill as many Nazi’s as they possibly can while a Jewish girl attempts to avenge the death of her family at the hands of an SS Colonel referred to as ‘The Jew Hunter’.

Now, I generally love Tarantino films so I can help but look forward to this one, especially with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, who has been pretty consistently great in everything he’s been in since Fight Club. The film also boasts performances from Eli Roth, Mike Myers and the while things narrated by the bad motherfucker himself, Samuel L. Jackson. The only reason that this film isn’t higher is that the film recieved a bit of bad press when it was screened but it was still the only American film at the festival to recieve any kind of award so time will tell whether this film lives up to my expectations or just adds to the massive dissapointment of 2009.

4: Where The Wild Things Are (US release date: 16/10/09)

This is the story of a kid who wears weird pajamas who goes and plays with massive furry monsters voiced by Tony Soprano in a weird forest that gets bombed or something. I dunno, I never read the book as a kid as far as I can remember, which to be honest may have meant that I read it several times. I have a shit memory.

So the main reason I’ve put this on here is the technique of making the weird monster creatures is really interesting and, from the trailer at least, it looks as though it works really well. Will it actually be any good? As I understand the book it’s adapted from is actually really quite short and we all know where that can lead (The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat).

3: Taking Woodstock (US release date: 28/08/09)

Directed by Ang Lee this is an R rated comedy based on the true life story of Elliot Tiber, a guy whose parents owned a motel and the only music festival permit in Bethel, New York. He offered both of these things to the Woodstock Music Festival.

Now this film ticks a number of boxes that make me look forward to it. A cast of people I enjoy: Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Eugene Levy. Tick. A subject that I’m interested in: Woodstock. Tick. R-Rated comedy. Tick. So all in all this film looks like it’s going to be right down my alley. Here’s hoping this isn’t another 2009 dissapointment.

2: Sherlock Holmes (UK release date: 25/12/09)

Guy Ritchie’s period action film about the world’s most famous detective (except maybe Batman) starring Robert Downie Jr. and Jude Law as the Victorian dynamic duo is certainly one to look forward to. I was a little concerned when I first saw the trailer, thinking that they’d made Holmes into some kind of 19th century James Bond but hey, the fashion these days is taking classic characters and reinvisioning them so why not Holmes too?

Also it’s got Robert Downie Jr. in it for fucks sake! He’s consistently proving that he’s one of the best actors we’ve got these days and I’m sure some people will soon begin complaining that he’s over-exposed but who cares as long as he can consistently deliver sterling performances?

1: District 9 (UK/US release date: 19/08/09)

I don’t think anyone should be surprised by this. In fact, is there anyone who’s not looking forward to this film? It’s the story of aliens living in a segregated community (District 9) in South Africa. The community is controlled by the human corporation Multi-National United (MNU) who have no interest in the aliens welfare. In fact the only thing the humans are interested in is their technology which won’t work without alien DNA. Suddenly an MNU worker contracts an alien virus which begins to mutate his genes, making him the key to humans being able to use the alien weaponry. He becomes a hunted man and, becoming ostracised and friendless, he takes shelter in the only place he can, District 9.

I’ll admit, I was a little shocked when the first full trailer came out and showed this was a far more straightforward film rather than the documentary style I had come to expect from the teasers but I get the feeling that there will probably be a decent mix of both styles which will make me very, very happy indeed. Man, I can’t wait for this to be released. In fact the only problem with District 9 is that it heavily features the worst accent on Earth. Sorry South Africans, but really, it’s like someone smacking my ears with a frying pan. Still, hopefully someone will say ‘Diplomatic Immunity.’ Then all will be well.




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