District 9 Photo 2

It’s time to put up or shut up. After what seems like a lifetime of marketing, the highly anticipated film District 9 will hit theaters this Friday. It’s directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. It’s led by a relatively unknown South African actor, and the same goes for it’s supporting cast. Does it live up to the hype? We’ve rounded up some early reviews for the film and we’ll let you decide.

Yay or nay on District 9? Find out after the jump…

How’s the film’s overall story?

What makes DISTRICT 9 such a great sci-fi film, is that it’s one of the few big, effects driven blockbusters to come out which is actually trying to say something substantial about humanity, and specifically, the nature of prejudice. This is no average alien invasion film, and it’s no coincidence that this is set in South Africa, which, up to about twenty years ago, was run under a strict apartheid government,where white supremacy was imposed through a racist regime, only being overturned in 1990. In many ways, this is a retelling of the apartheid struggle in South Africa only with aliens as the oppressed citizens. [Joblo]

In truth, the “story” of District 9 is the weakest element of the film. I walked out scratching my head over a number of plot points, including why the prawns were here in the first place and the origin of Van de Merwe’s disease. (Alien gasoline turns humans into prawns? Really?) And don’t get me started about the unsatisfying conclusion. That being said, to reject District 9 because of lapses of plot is to miss the bigger picture. [Creativeloafing]

There are loose ends to the plot, to be sure, and a story that doesn’t quite know when to call it quits. But Blomkamp’s visual sense – his blend of astonishing CG creatures with jiggly, verite cinematography, lends the film not just realism but real excitement. And that’s not to mention the poignant quality it earns by the end. [HollywoodandFine]

What about Neill Blomkamp’s direction?

Neill Blomkamp’s directorial debut is visually bold; eighty percent of the film is told through either recounted testimonials or on-foot ‘documentary camera crews’ following the action and relating it directly back to the audience. The other twenty percent follows more traditional methods of filmmaking – cutting away to private moments between key characters, away from the documentary crews. [IGN]

This is one intense, intelligent, well-crafted action movie – one that dazzles the eye with seamless special effects but also makes you think without preaching. Like the excellent “Moon” from earlier this summer, “District 9″ has the esthetic trappings of science fiction but it’s really more of a character drama, an examination of how a man responds when he’s forced to confront his identity during extraordinary circumstances. [Canadian Press]

In a time of Michael Bay, J.J. Abrams and other so-called “power directors,” it’s comforting to see a filmmaker who still does action sequences with both hands on the camera instead of a computer.[NationalPost]

What do critics think of leading man Sharlto Copley?

Wikus is portrayed with surprising sincerity by virtual unknown South African actor, Sharlto Copley. Copley is initially a little self-conscious on screen but seems to ease into the roll as the film progresses and his character is injected with a few interesting personality quirks and hurdles to overcome. As he evolves as a character, the more likeable and believable he becomes; less of a two-dimension office flack, if you will, and more of the leading man he needs to be in order to carry the weight of the narrative. [IGN]

You’ll come out of DISTRICT 9 stunned by Sharlto Copley. There’s only one other performance that I’ve seen this year that struck me as amazing as this one… and that’s Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino’s Basterds. But Christoph is an accomplished actor. Just not a high profile one. Sharlto is UNKNOWN, an amateur. Someone that had no dreams or aspirations to be in front of the camera, he wanted to be behind the camera. [AICN]

Most importantly, how are the aliens?

These creatures are deliberately made to appear disgusting: Located somewhere between insects and crustaceans on the evolutionary scale, the aliens have hard shell areas, extremely thin waists, sinewy joints and surprising strength. Humans, in their disgust, call them “prawns” because they are bottom-feeding scavengers who root around for food, especially cat food! [FilmJournal]

The reason the creatures look like the creatures is that Neill – as a former visual effects geek – he knew what surfaces and looks can be rendered by a computer that would look 100% perfectly real in the environments. As a result. The Prawns, as they’re called, look perfect. Not only that, but 98% of all the “Prawns” you see in this film… they were all accomplished through the performance capturing of a single performer. Again. Amazing. [AICN]

Check back here for our official review of District 9 this Thursday, and see what fuel we have to add to this fire.

What do you think about the reviews of the film so far?