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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

District 9


Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope and Robert Hobbs
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 December 2009

District 9 plunges the viewer into a world where the aliens have landed... only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he will discover what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet...

District 9 opens with a promising premise - aliens stranded on Earth who have to fit in with society. But their alien ways means that they end up being moved into a shanty town, known as District 9, and left to get on with it. But when the crime rate starts to soar and the locals become restless, a peace keeping force is sent in to move the aliens to another area out of the way of direct human contact.

While an interesting movie I did feel that the director was very much finding his footing throughout the filmmaking process. The story's focus keeps switching all over the place and the documentary/traditional movie elements clashed a little on occasion. This could be down to the fact that District 9 is based on the director's short movie Alive in Joburg and that expanding this to a full-length movie was a bit of a stretch as far as the material was concerned.

Also the character of Wikus van de Merwe is a little unlikable, so you don't really care what happens to him - and even when you think he might be a good person at heart he turns around and ruins everything. This is most evident in the scene where he has a hissy fit and attacks Christopher because the deal he thought was going down changes when it hits complications. Likewise, Colonel Koobus Venter is a bit of a caricature - he's a sadistic mercenary who relishes inflict suffering on others - like that's not a movie cliche.

Yet again this Blu-ray disc suffers from that common complaint. Tiny writing on the menus. Why is this always the case? Unless you've got a 50"+ screen reading the text is almost impossible. Another aspect with this disc is the fact that the menu is incredibly difficult to navigate. I don't know about anyone else, but for me the menu screen should be about being able to go to the relevant part of the disc that I want to access. But, no, here the designers have made it a bit of a chore. It took me a while to work out how to play the movie. As you choose left and right on the controls, the options rotate, but should I line up "play movie" in the centre of the screen, to the place that is underneath a red line that seems to be indicating that place holder's important, or to the far left where for some reason everything goes very dark?

Extras include Cine Chat and BD-Live; commentary with director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp; Joburg from Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9 - Interactive Map (interactive map that allows you to access more information about District 9. However, this is very limited and not really worth the effort that went into designing it. Also you'll need a huge TV to actually read the text - yes that old chestnut rears its ugly head again); Deleted Scenes (23 min, 28 sec); The Alien Agenda: Filmmaker's Log (3 behind the scenes featurettes totalling 34 min, 19 sec); Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus (9 min, 52 sec look at the make-up process); Innovation: The Acting and Improvisation of District 9 (12 min, 05 sec); Concept and Design: Creating the World of District 9 (13 min 18 sec); Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9 (10 min, 18 sec); and a trailer for Michael Jackson's This is it movie.

While an interesting enough movie, the lack of any real focus and two dimensional characters means this is unlikely to be a film you'll want to watch more than once.


Darren Rea

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