Friday, 14 August 2009

District 9.

You Are Not Welcome Here.
Thanks to the mysterious Machine God, this blog seems ok after all. Went and watched District 9 at where else but nearby GSC Summit USJ. Directed by newcomer Neill Blomkamp, and produced by the incredible shrinking director Peter Jackson of LOTR trilogy, it has been reported that this movie is a thinly veiled reference to apartheid. Indeed, throughout the entire movie, various level of allegories can be observed. Blomkamp supposedly contracted to make Halo but the project is shelved for some unknown reasons, and D9 is made instead, based on Blomkamp and lead actor Sharlto Copley's sci fi short film, Alive In Joburg, of which D9 is loosely based upon. District 9 referred to and based on the actual event of forced relocation of 60,000 occupants in Distrik Ses in Cape Town during the 70s by the apartheid regime. The movie begin with various snippets of interviews with individuals back in the early 80s (based on the date recorded by the "camera") when an alien spacecraft stalled just right above Johannesburg, South Africa. First human contact on board revealed a race of alien occupants barely alive. The world governments thought that either the aliens are hostile or a technology transfer may occur. Neither happen. It seems that the aliens are refugees of some sort, and they are workers, very much like insect hierarchy. But the leaders or drones, are nowwhere to be found amongst them. Listless and without aim, the aliens pretty much do not prove much "value" to the governments. Thus a camp called District 9 near the city is built for the aliens. The proximity of the D9, as well as different behaviour of the aliens make the local inhabitants uneasy and experience literal "xenophobia". The aliens are also called "prawns" by them, a derogatory term based the behaviour and physical aspect of it (the aliens love to rummage through garbage for foods, favourite being tinned cat food, rubber, and beef. They looks like crustacean on two legs). Due to the lack of food, a Nigerian warlord and his band of marauders seize the opportunity to conduct a barter trade with the aliens within D9. The aliens would barter their weapons for cat food and beef. The warlord is obsessed with getting the "power and strength" of the aliens, would randomly kill them and eats their flesh as advised by his shamanic priestess. As violence and riot begin to flare around the city, MNU (Multi National United), the private corporation contracted by the governments to run the by now slum like shanty town D9, is asked to relocated the aliens to District 10, a newly built camp site 240 kilometers away from the city. The movie begins proper on the day of the "relocation", about twenty eight years later. Shot in hand held documentary style, thank goodness it is not as shakey stevens as Blair Witch or Cloverfield but not as sophisticated as Children Of Men either. The protagonist, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), is appointed by the chief of MNU, who conveniently also happens to be his father in law, to carry out the serving of "eviction" notices and getting the 1.8 millions aliens to "sign" on the consent forms, which of course is just a fallacy and clear abuse of any "rights" the aliens supposedly have. Guarded by MNU security forces as well as a group of contracted mercenaries lead by an over enthusiastic leader, Wikus walks door to door to serve the notice, until when he accidentally sprays some alien liquid on himself. Wikus appears to be borderline nerdy sort of persona but he loves his wife tremendously. After the incident, Wikus begins to vomit and bleeds "black stuff". Not Guinness but yucky looking liquid. His nails also begin to fall off. As the movie verge on being "The Fly", it takes a turn and from here onwards, becomes an action movie. Wikus experiences a blackout and is hospitalised but to the horror of the doctor, his left hand (injured earlier) has transformed into the likeness of those aliens. He is then taken to MNU lab, which resembles an alien abattoir, where he is prodded with electric shock to test the alien weapons. He then becomes literally a God sent walking prize for MNU, who wants to cut him "to the bones", with consent given straight from his father in law. You see, the entire idea of MNU running the camp is with one sole objective, technological transfer of the aliens weaponry. Welfare can take a backseat when billions of dollars worth of arm contracts are in hand. But to operate the weapons confiscated from the aliens, their DNA is required, something which MNU has failed to replicate. Wikus DNA is being altered by the liquid to that of an alien, and when he is at the lab, his body already contains 50% alien DNA. Wikus manages to escape but the hunt is on. Here, the documentary style shot mysteriously disappear and becomes more like a normal kind of sequence. Wikus runs to D9, where he meets "Christopher", who happens to be a drone in hiding from the humans and is responsible for the creation of the liquid which Wikus confiscated earlier during the eviction. "Christopher" explains (the aliens and humans understand each other language well enough...hmm) that Wikus will soon turn into one of them if treatment is not sought at the spacecraft. He also explains that the liquid takes twenty years to develop. Thus Wikus and "Christopher" storm MNU offices to retrieve the small canister containing it. But all is not smooth for both of them, and soon both MNU as well as the Nigerian marauders would be in the hunt for Wikus until the climatic finale. The movie contains lots of gore and blood. It also marked the first time a locally screened movie carrying completely uncensored "f-word", which are aplenty in all its booming THX glory. Perhaps the movies censorship butcher boys did not understand the rather thick accent of the South African english? :P. The board also did some poor editing, like some scenes ended rather abruptly, interrupting the flow rather akwardly. But all in all, D9 is surprisingly a good movie from this year. Although it some how reminiscence of the 80s Alien Nation, D9's strength is the rather engaging storyline, which as it nears the ending, can be quite emotive and heart wrenching, as well as the characterisation of its lead, Wikus. I could not help but wonder after the end credits, whether "Christopher" comes back for Wikus and the others after three years? Hopefully.

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