Saturday, August 29, 2009

183. District 9

No title was ever won in August. Fact. Only the hopelessly deluded, BN politicians, and smurfs would think otherwise.

Moving on, this past week has seen the release of the Best Film of the Summer, and judging from that underwhelming Avatar trailer, quite possibly the Best Film of the Year (though the likes of upcoming releases like Where the Wild Things Are and Moon may yet have a say). Neill Blomkamp's District 9 represents all that is grand and wondrous about genre film-making, and how it magical it can be if done right.

With a modest US30m budget, a little known director and an unknown cast, District 9 towers above all other so-called tentpole blockbusters that have been released this summer (excluding the latest Potter and Michael Mann's Public Enemies). It goes to show how a little money and a lot of guts and imagination can take you a long way, and shows how the opposite is true with crapfests like the latest offerings from Bay and McG.

Remember watching the first Matrix? Or experiencing Robocop and The Children of Men for the first time? All three are based in the sci-fi genre, but what made them great was it was so much more than the guns, robots and futuristic setting on display. What sets these films apart from turds like the first two Star Wars prequels and the latest Transformers and Terminator sequels is the fact that they draw you in make you care for what's going on, and make you not want to grit your teeth through another awesome, but ultimately hollow and stupid explosion and special effects set-piece. The effects in those former films (though mind-blowingly awesome) are just incidental to the story, and not the centrepiece. They are there because they serve the main plot and characters, and not the other way round.

Now going to the cinema should be for experiences like . It shouldn't be spending two hours in the dark thinking what the fuck you're doing there and wishing you'd never made the journey in the first place.

Watching District 9 was like discovering once again that there are truly great summer films, only if you wish to look hard enough, and keep an open mind about it.

One last thing, what's the deal with G.I. Joe? They pretty much screwed the entire Snake-Eyes/Scarlet/Storm Shadow dynamic that was so cool in the comics. A very big fuck-you to Stephen Sommers for that.

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