Thursday, August 13, 2009

Japies vs Prawns in J-Berg

So I headed along to the Myspace Black Curtain screening of the much-hyped buzz-film-of-the-moment District 9 last night, and I'm happy to say it delivered. But before I go into the film, just wanted to say that whoever's handling these screenings should really clarify the process of obtaining these free passes. Like, tell us EXACTLY what to actually do. I had to text four or five times to RSVP before I figured out how it worked (you had to reply with the town you're in...). It also doesn't tell you what to do with the text when you get to the theatre; are we suppose to exchange it for a ticket? For Black Curtain newbies reading this, when you get there there'll be a Myspace rep waiting with a clipboard with all phone and ticket numbers of people who RSVPed - tell them yours and they'll stamp your wrist. What's kinda silly is giving you the coupon for free popcorn when you're doing this, because it means you have to go all the way back to the snack bar - thus losing your place in a queue - to get your popcorn. Anyway.

District 9. I'm not ready to call it a classic/masterpiece/amazing just yet, but it was ENORMOUSLY enjoyable, pure adrenalised non-stop fun for two hours. It hit the ground running from the very first frame and rarely stopped until the explosive, wall-to-wall-action finale. If you don't know the story - and it's best to know as little as possible - the basic idea involves a population of shellfish-like aliens ("prawns") who are forced to live in the slums of Johannesberg when their mothership mysteriously stopped above the city in the early '80s.

The film begins as a faux-doco piece establishing the scenario, and it's here where District 9 really excels in terms of smart ideas and writing: the backstory is so brilliantly fleshed out with straight-faced talking heads, faked archival news footage and timely-seeming socio-political crises, we buy every frame of it. The more trad second half of the film doesn't have as much to offer for thought, but it's a thrilling, nerve-jangling straight-ahead chase/shoot-'em-up handled with relentless urgency by director Neill Blomkamp. The CGI is superb - love the mothership hanging ominously over everything, and the aliens blend really well with the humans. And the fact that it was all done for only US$30 mill makes it all the more impressive. It certainly blows every other "big" film away this year (I'm looking at you Transfomers 2/G.I. Joe). I'm not going to say anymore, just go see it (Trailer: here).

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