District 9 Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Would I have this as a poster on my wall? Yes

This is one of those covers that really does tell enough of the story of the movie to be useful, and it looks cool. The menus are themed as well. You can choose from the human or the alien versions and each has a whole different look, which is a thoughtful touch I appreciate even more after seeing the movie.

Features: 9/10

  • Deleted Scenes – Movies with a lot of special effects probably are more economical when it comes to cutting scenes out for whimsical reasons. There are a few, here that they simply didn’t add the CGI to before cutting, which has got to be the cheapest way to do it. There are several and some of them are quite amusing, but nothing that would impact the story.
  • Director’s Commentary – I like listening to this director, even though he has a touch, just a little hint of pretentious young film maker attitude, but that’s to be expected. After all, he is a young film maker 🙂
  • The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log — Three-Part Documentary – The director and other cast and crew talk fairly extensively about making the movie. It’s a really well made, not too flashy, not overly produced bit of background information. I enjoyed hearing about how the movie even came to exist on the back of the debunked Halo movie by Peter Jackson. It’s a good extra, one of the most watchable ‘documentary’ type things I’ve seen in a while.
  • Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus – How do we make a man look like a transforming alien? Lots of latex, glue, make-up, and time in a chair early in the morning. It’s kind of the same old story as we have seen before with this topic, but I like the people so it’s a fun one to watch.
  • Innovation: Acting and Improvisation – How do you make a science fiction movie with a very strict storyline, but with room to add a line or two here and there? A director with an open mind and a cast that’s really good at making quality changes to what’s on the script.
  • Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9 – What does an alien ship look like? How do you design an alien that’s not like all the other aliens we have seen in the past few decades of sci-fi movies? This is the kind of stuff that gets tossed around at those brainstorming creative meetings. I wonder if they watch the movie and think, “Hmmm wish I’d added another tail to that alien, or eyeball, or more buttons on that weapon.”
  • Alien Generation: Visual Effects – Well, it’s one of the best modern examples of CGI added to a real live actor to make them into something completely different…but even this can and will get better and better….seen that little flick called Avatar yet? OH, and there are explosions, bodies blowing up, a man transforming into an alien…etc.
  • Joburg From Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9 – A map of where you are in the city during the story. I like the details, but to be honest it’s not that interesting to me. We’ve seen this extra before and I do appreciate the effort, it’s a bulky extra for an extended experience, it’s just not my thing.
  • God Of War III playable PlayStation 3 Game Demo and unlock an exclusive making-of the game – Ask Ascully, oh he’s busy replaying the demo, again and again:)
  • MovieIQ And More! –This would be the pop up information you can read during a re-watch of the movie, which is cool if you plan to watch it a few times. I will watch it again, but I don’t need any trivia or information. I just want to watch the movie again and again:)

The Movie: 8/10
Science Fiction is becoming my genre of choice as I hit middle age. I can’t explain why, but movies like District 9 are paving the way for sure. From the first minute of the movie I was there, sucked in by the opening documentary style and intangible vibe.  You know that vibe, the thing that makes you get all tingly inside when a movie starts that you just lock eyes and mind with and never let go.

The story isn’t new or shocking, not at the heart of it. It’s the details, those things that make it not like other stories with the same ideas. Aliens come to earth and humans are not fully prepared to deal with the situation…..ok, not new or innovative, right? What about an alien ship that hovers over a large city in South Africa that doesn’t open, no one comes out and no one can get in until some humans force their way in and discover a group of aliens starving, on the brink of death? Is it an invasion? Is it a trick? Is it a ship stolen by the beings left on board who have no idea how to work the technology? Is it the crew who are stuck on board after their leaders are dead and who can’t figure out what to do stranded over the surface of a far away planet? This is what makes District 9 interesting, that and a few other things 🙂

The overriding theme is one of my favorites in story telling. That theme is that. I love anything that makes fun of and points out the ineptness of paper-pushing and bullshit over-regulation of rules and procedures. An office worker with a clipboard is thrust into the mix of a highly volatile situation. He is a robot, in essence, of his job and follows the rules so as to further his own promotions and status in his department.

The cast is awesome, every single person convinces me that they are in that story. Another thing I notice as I get older is that I can spot a half-assed performance from an actor from a mile away and it’s very irritating, unless it’s intended….this movie has none of that. Everyone seems committed, taking their roles seriously and making it that much higher quality. I would say the lead guy is the stand out, and he is, however, everyone is the same caliber so it’s a group effort really even from peripheral characters there is no lack of effort.

I won’t go into the special effects too much. I mean, if you are a review reader and listen to anything about movies you will already know it’s an awesome looking movie. Other reviewers might have a better grasp of the technical side of things. I do know this, I love the bright lighting on the all CGI characters. It’s a new age of movie watching that’s for sure. We can have anyone be anything and in the right hands (Wetta) it looks incredible on the big screen. True fantasies come true in our movie watching minds with modern tricks of the trade and District 9 is one of the new shining examples. There are a few little seconds here and there where the movements of the aliens have that weirdness that reminds me they are computer generated creatures attached to real live humans, but 99.9% of the movie is engrossing because it’s that convincing.

Overall I LOVE this movie. It’s exciting, it’s got a statement (even though the director says it doesn’t). It’s in a place I’ve never really seen before. It’s got compelling characters and amazing visual effects. It’s a must see for me, the rising Queen of Science Fiction.

Audio & Video: 10/10
What an amazing movie to start 2010 with. If we had reviewed this movie last week it would have made my best of 2009 list. Perhaps it will make my 2010 list, it’s that good. District 9 is brought to us by Sony on Blu-Ray in 1.85:1 Wide Screen image that is stunning from start to finish. Neil Blomkamp used the RED HD camera for most of the movie and the results are spectacular. The only complaints I have about the transfer are some dark shots are slightly underwhelming but this could be intentional to fit in with the guerrilla film-making style.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is equally stunning with some amazing surround separation (the very first scene of Wickus being interviewed is a good example, it sounds like the interviewer is actually sat behind you). The battles towards the end of the movie really will give your speakers a workout. This soundtrack really works and pulls you even further into the world of District 9.

Overall District 9 on Blu-Ray is a no-brainer, if you like Sci-Fi in even a small way you will find something here to like. If you love Sci-Fi you will see a very different movie from anything that has come before it!!!!

Value: 6/10
I love the movie. I don’t love the Blu-Ray price. That’s the way of the world for a cheapskate like me. I don’t like paying more than 20 bucks for any movie. It seems a bit vulgar to have it sitting on the shelf forever. I would recommend this as a rental for movie watchers, and it’s a purchase for collectors of Sci-Fi, or Peter Jackson fans, or whatever other niche you can slip it in to.

Overall Score 9/10