16 August 2009

District 9

Spanks - 5

Director - Neill Blomkamp

Writer - Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell

Starring - Sharlto Copley, Mandla Gaduka, William Allen Young & Jason Cope

Release Date - 14 August 09

MPAA Rating - R

District 9 is more proof that you don't need one hundred plus million dollars to make a science fiction/action film look great. The "Prawns" in the film look more real than any other CGI created character all summer and its total budget was only 30 million dollars. Compared to Transformers and G.I. Joe whose budgets were above 150 million each.

The film is shot partially in documentary style. The second act is shot as a typical fiction film, while the first and third act are documentary. By doing it this way, you get a better understanding of the District 9 world. The film tells the story of the government of South Africa and the company, Multi National United evicting and relocating the almost two million alien refugees (called negatively by the humans as Prawns) who showed up over the city of Johannesburg twenty something years earlier. MNU assigns Wikus van der Merwe to lead the relocation and the "documentary film crew" follows him into District 9. As with any forced relocation, the aliens resist. Problems also persist with the Nigerian gang who run a black market for the aliens.

The film is an allegory for racism in the world whether it is the way African Americans were treated in the United States after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's or, since the director is from South Africa, the Apartheid that lasted up into to 1990's. The "Prawns" representing the repressed group.

The movie is also different in that the aliens are not here to take over and destroy humanity even though they have better technology and well advanced weaponry. The filmmakers don't shove the racism thing down your throat, so you don't have to worry about being preached to about being caring and loving to all living beings. District 9 is the best film of the 2009 summer so far, and I don't see another film topping it this season.

District 9 is based off of Neill Blomkamp's 2005 short film Alive in Joburg. Check it out onSpy Films. It is only six minutes long.

11 August 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Spanks - 3

Director - Stephen Sommers

Writer - Stuart Beattie, David Elliot & Paul Lovett

Starring - Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Release Date - 7 August 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
has been getting a lot of bad press since it was released on August 7th. Truthfully, I went expecting nothing out of it, as should have all the other critics. It will never win any kind of award and I don't believe the filmmakers were going for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film is exactly what it should have been. It was a summer popcorn movie that was so bad that it was awesome!

The film is an origin story, but unlike most films, its the origin of the villian, Cobra Commander. The G.I. Joe's have been saving the world with all their ultra high tech toys for years. It shows the Joe's from the point of view of two new recruts, Duke and Ripcord. Duke and Ripcord started in the U.S. Army, were ordered to deliver four brand new warheads to NATO. Warheads that can quickly destroy an entire city. The convoy gets ambushed and the warheads get stolen by the Baroness before the Joe's arrive. General Hawk recruits Duke and Ripcord to help find the Baroness and the four warheads before cities get leveled and millions of people die.

The film is very predictable. The special effects are average. The weapons are ridiculous. The accelerator suits being an example, but the action sequence they were used in was cool. The dialog is cheesy (deliberate?). It is overacted (deliberate?). The girls are super hot (of course!). All these factors make for a summer movie that is nothing more than great fun. If you go expecting Citizen Kane you are going to be greatly disappointed. If you go expecting a film based on a doll/action figure/toy (whatever you consider a G.I. Joe) who fights an evil organization called Cobra who just wants to control the world you will probably have a good time.