9 Reasons You Have To See District 9

Next: It has a brain


Next: It's still full of action


3. It's Still Full Of Action

Yes, while District 9 has a solid, intellectual core, it never forgets the action.

This is a film where a small war breaks out between an oppressed group and the people who loathe and distrust them.

And when things go badly wrong for Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), the plot kicks the action up several notches.

As Blomkamp switches from the mock-doc format (see page 9), he throws the visual trickery into overdrive, with some impressive shots, nail-biting suspense and even fast-paced editing (though not so distractingly quick as to approach the likes of Michael Bay.

The camera rolls, ducks and weaves as Wikus goes on his life-altering adventure, making sure you stay with him for every moment.

To avoid big spoilers, we won't go into what happens when some of the aliens' weapons are finally unveiled (if you've seen the trailer, you've seen it happen) but suffice to say it's a lot of fun.

And to Blomkamp's credit, the vast majority of the action is driven by character. These are not set pieces for the sake of having something go boom - every moment springs from the needs of the plot.

"The way I approached the action is the same way I approached the whole film," says Blomkamp. "Right from the beginning, the idea was to juxtapose the fantastic and the mundane. This crazy science fiction is placed in a usual, every day situation. It's also presented with an everyday paintbrush. It's not glossy, over-the-top and Hollywood per se."

And there will be blood. "I knew right from the beginning that I wanted it to be violent. A few months after we started, I knew a dark satirical direction mixed with something that felt real would be the best way to go.

"Don't make it too serious. Once I knew that there was an element of satire and a lot of violence, meat explosions seemed like the direction to go in."

Next: The trailer's not full of spoilers


4. You Haven't Seen Every Good Bit In The Trailers

So many films these days want to tell you the entire story in two minutes' of what should be a tease. Yes, romantic comedies, we're looking at you.

But thanks to some savvy marketing from the studio, approved by Jackson and Blomkamp, District 9's trailers have provided just enough to hook us in while also leaving enough on the table that, if you stay away from spoilers, you'll find plenty more to enjoy.

"I do think that it’s always okay to show too little," is Blomkamp's opinion. "People will still be interested. So why show too much?"

Take a look above.

Next: The lead is great


Next: The aliens are awesome


Next: The visuals rock


7. The Movie Boasts Real Visual Power

Harnessing the talents of effects houses including Weta and Vancouver's The Embassy, Blomkamp has fashioned a look for the film and its otherworldly inhabitants that's both striking and realistic.

While there are seven-foot-tall aliens wandering about, all created via the magic of CGI, they never feel like effects - they always seem real. Well, as real as aliens can.

But the striking solidity of the characters is what hits you - you totally believe that they're walking about, interacting with Copley's Wirkus and others and that they're living, breathing, emoting creatures.

Compare that to the shonky, cheap-looking CG found in the likes of G.I. Joe, which had a much heftier budget (and, let's face it, didn't spend money on an A-list cast).

"There was a desire to return to believability," says Copley. "Neill's put that awe back. 'Let's make it feel like realistic sci-fi.'

"The emotion is able to start coming back into the work. People got carried away with 'look what these computers can do...'"

Next: The setting is different


Next: Mock-dock style is a treat


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Freelance Journalist

James White is a freelance journalist who has been covering film and TV for over two decades. In that time, James has written for a wide variety of publications including Total Film and SFX. He has also worked for BAFTA and on ODEON's in-cinema magazine.