Monthly Archives: August 2009

District 9 Film Review

District 9 is the debut feature-length film from South African director Neil Blomkamp. The film is based off his short film Alive in Joburg. The best way I can describe the film is that it is presented as a documentary and video footage of an alien slum. In the world of District 9 an alien spacecraft ground to a halt over the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa twenty years ago.

Unable to leave as their technology was not compatible with that of Earth’s, the alien beings took to living in the slums. At first, they lived among South Africa’s poor. Human xenophobia took hold and the aliens were pushed further away from human settlements and into an even worse living condition in a slum designated District 9. The film takes place in the present time as new riots and inter-species violence has prompted a large paramilitary company to devise a plan to evict the alien race, referred to in the film derisively as Prawns due to their appearance, to a new settlement far away from human interaction.

The film documents these evictions and the events that follow it. A working class stiff given the opportunity to head these evictions of the Prawn is one Wikus van der Mewre. Wikus is eager to please his boss who happens to be his father-in-law. The poor soul winds up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes the catalyst for a showdown with his corporation and the attempt of a Prawn named Christopher to escape back to his home world.

That’s the best I can explain the narrative without spoiling things. Blomkamp does a fantastic job of creating a believeable world. Blomkamp shows us how ugly we can be when we face the unknown. The film’s effects, done by Peter Jackson’s WETA Studio, add to the believability of the proceedings. It is hard to believe that the film was made for around 30 million dollars. The design of the Prawn and their technology are some of the most inventive I’ve seen in a sci-film.

The pacing of the film is also handled very well. The film is nearly pitch-perfect up until the last ten minutes or so. Blomkamp seems to abandon his vision of presenting a world where everyone is tense and uneasy and either doing their jobs (in the case of Wikus) or trying to survive (in the case of Christopher). Most of the film up until those final minutes really never established Wikus as a protagonist or any of the bureaucrats he worked for as antagonists. The last ten minutes abandon this motif when one random soldier suddenly becomes nearly invulnerable to the violence around him yet his nameless allies are being blown to bits by alien weaponry.

The film has no qualms about the random violence and chaos that exists when two armed groups cannot resolve things rationally. It is this rawness that really makes the film so genuine. It is clear everyone involves believes in what they are making, which is a rare thing in film these days. I thoroughly encourage everyone to see this film. It raises important questions on how we as humans treat that which is different, how military companies can dehumanize so easily, and how human xenophobia continues to cause us grief and despair.

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.

Funny People film review

It’s been some time since I’ve been able to write on my blog.  I’ve been working a lot so it’s not been easy. I’ll go back to movie reviews for the time being. Tonight I had the opportunity to see Judd Apatow’s first film since The 40 Year Old Virgin, Funny People. The time away producing seems to have allowed Mr. Apatow time to begin to truly hone his craft. The film is definitely his most intimate and personal.

The film stars Adam Sandler as George Simmons. Simmons seems to be a commentary or at least a reflection on the career path of Adam Sandler. Simmons was a great stand-up comic who became famous and did a lot of easy movies that made him wealthy and famous but never really signified much. A lot of Simmon’s movie choices are almost a parody. While Adam Sandler was The Waterboy Simmons was Merman.

Needless to say, the film allows Sandler to be the most honest he’s been in a long time. Which is great because I’ve always been a fan and have found his film choices over the past few years to be poor. Funny People reminds us just how talented and funny Adam Sandler truly is. An opening montage featuring Sandler and friends making crank calls is real footage taken by Judd Apatow in 1991 when the lot of them were nobodies.

The film also stars the ever-present Seth Rogen. Some on the Internet have grown tired of Rogen but I for one have not. His shtick is consistently entertaining. He also has far more range than I think people give him credit for. Rogen plays a struggling stand-up comic who has a chance meeting with George Simmons. He then becomes intertwined in George’s life and his misery. You see, George is told at the start of the film he has a rare form of leukemia and has no real chance to beat it.

The disease of course forces George to regress and become unhinged. We get to see a man who has it all, yet has nothing. He cheated on his true love (the ever beautiful wife of a very lucky Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann) and retreated into his fame. The film carries a much more human and serious tone than Apatow’s previous outings. However, the film is filled with plenty of laughs. It was strange to read so many reviews claiming this a drama. The film is very much a comedy centered around serious events. The movie has more dick jokes per capita than any I’ve ever seen.

I thoroughly enjoyed Funny People. The film could have been stronger if edited better. It was a very long film for a comedy and took a lot of time to introduce characters. The resolution is also a bit forced and uncertain. However, sometimes that’s life….

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.