Fri, 11 Sep 2009 10:53:12 GMT

Dramatic twists in store in 'District 9'

This is one intense, intelligent, well-crafted action movie -- one that dazzles the eye with seamless special effects but also makes you think without preaching.

Review of 'District 9'


The mysterious and alarming signs have been out there for weeks, months even: On billboards, benches and bus stops featuring crude cartoon alien drawings, they've warned us of non-humans, they've urged us to remain separate. "What is all that about?" you've probably wondered. Well, they're ads for the enormously buzzed-about 'District 9', and thankfully, given their ubiquity, all the hype is justified.

Like the excellent 'Moon' from earlier this summer, 'District 9' has the aesthetic trappings of science fiction but it's really more of a character drama, an examination of how a man responds when he's forced to confront his identity during extraordinary circumstances.

Aliens who arrived here in their spaceship more than 20 years ago have now been quarantined in cramped and dangerous slums; the nerdy bureaucrat charged with moving them to new quarters (the tremendous Sharlto Copley) undergoes a physical and emotional transformation in the process.

What's amazing is that this visceral yet philosophically sophisticated film is the first feature from commercial and music-video director Neill Blomkamp, who co-wrote the script with Terri Tatchell. (Peter Jackson is the big name attached to this refreshingly star-free project -- he's one of the producers -- and Weta Digital, the company behind Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, provided the intricate alien effects.)

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