District 9 – Blu-ray Review

District 9_BD

The amazing things you can do with a modest budget and a vivid imagination. When Peter Jackson offered Neill Blomkamp $30 million to direct anything he wanted after the HALO adaptation fell through, Blomkamp decided to take the opportunity and remake his independent short Alive in Joburg. The story follows the hardships of aliens and humans interacting in the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The idea of making a movie about aliens where they weren’t invading, but inhabiting, and living amongst humans is intriguing as is, yet by putting the “prawns” as they’re called in the film, inside the slums, the feeling put out there is that they’re lower than the poorest of the poor on the civilization scale, and that feeling comes across with how the film is shot. The interaction between the humans and the prawns is simple, as the humans show all but no respect for these creatures, treating them as cattle that they can herd wherever they want, and dispose of without a second thought.

The film is shot from a documentary-perspective (think TV’s The Office) in the beginning, though it changes up somewhat it the second act. This gives the perception of these events being a reality, over just another action/drama flick and it comes off quite well. The setting is also quite unique, as usually these types of films are aimed to be shot in a more well-known area so to gain more in marketing interest from the public. While that can usually be said to be true, in this instance, the setting worked, and District 9 went on to become financially successful world-wide.

Sharlto Copley plays the main character of the film. He’s a member of Multi-National United, the group that has the unenviable task of moving these prawns from their current home to a more government conceived District 10. Copley had a part in Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg and now finds himself in a position any unknown actor would be thankful for after finding success in a film where the odds were unknown at the start. Copley does a great job in this film, and will be one to keep an eye on in future endeavors.

District 9 is an original, entertaining and overall breath of fresh air in the ongoing alien/human saga that Hollywood loves so much; and is one that shouldn’t be missed.

The Blu-ray transfer of District 9 is about as good as anyone could hope for. Coming in at 1080p it’s a fantastic visual experience, and everything is as solid, and stunning as it was originally in theatres. The audio is also just as good, as Sony went all out with the team working on this disc to make it the best possible transfer fans of the movie could hope for.

BD-Live is included on this Sony Blu-ray Disc release, so you’ll need to have internet connectivity on your player, as well as have it fully updated. This will open up features like movieIQ and such. Fun little additions if you’re already hooked up and ready to go, but nothing major to worry about if you’re not.

Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Neill Blomkamp – Who else would you want to give you a commentary other than Blomkamp himself. Sure you could throw Sharlto Copley into the mix, but he’s not really needed, as Blomkamp is the go-to man for this job, and who fans would really want to hear.

Joburg From Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9 – Interactive Map – This feature is an interactive feature where you use your remote to look at the different types of technology and aliens and so forth in the movie while watching. Just a bit of extra info and all that for people who want to hit every aspect of bonus features.

Deleted Scenes A deeper look at certain aspects of the film, though if important enough would‘ve likely been included in an alternate cut of the film as most DVD/Blu-ray releases do these days. Well, I take that back, a lot of times that’s just a selling point and the things they add in are useless, but in the case of the more intriguing scenes, the option is out there without just throwing them into the extras.

The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log Over half an hour of interviews with the cast, and crew members, including Peter Jackson, and Blomkamp, about how the film came to be, and discussions about filming a movie based in South Africa. Interesting stuff, and a solid length that should make fans happy.

Metamorphasis: The Transformation of Wikus – A ten minute look at make-up and special effects, and how they’re applied in the scenario stated above. It’s long enough to be interesting and informative, but short enough to keep the attention of even the mildly intrigued.

Innovation: The Acting and Improvisation of District 9 – Another short featurette, this time focusing on the improvised, documentary style that was used to shoot the film, and how it came to be.

Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9 – Once again, another featurette that clocks in at just under the 15 minute mark. Fans should continue to be pleased with what’s offered in these segments.

Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9 – Same as above, though closer to the 10 minute mark, focusing more on the visual effects, as stated in the title of the feature.

A digital copy is available so you can watch District 9 on the go, if that’s your thing.

Lastly, and quite the interesting bonus for PS3 users, as it’s the first time Sony has done something like this (and hopefully not the last) is a demo of God of War 3. This is the demo from E3 last year, and lasts about 20 minutes, give or take, as I’m sure there will be people who blast through it in no time. After completing the demo, a making of featurette is unlocked for the game, which fans should enjoy, and may entice non-fans to give it a shot.

District 9 is one of those films that came out of nowhere, and surprised everyone who walked into the theatre in a good way. The Blu-ray release of this film changes nothing, and only adds to the experience in many ways making this a must-buy for anyone who was thinking of picking up this movie.

Sony Pictures presents District 9. Directed by: Neill Blomkamp. Starring: Sharlto Copley. Written by: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell. Running time: 112 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Dec. 22, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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