When the trailers appeared and we got our first look at Neill Blomkamp’s alternative reality film, the apartheid with aliens narrative was glimpsed in a series of extraordinary images, not least the enormous alien mothership hanging dead in the skies over Joburg. When we had our chance to walk in Blomkamp’s world it was clear that this was the joyous first shout from a new cinematic voice.

2009 was a major year in cinematic sci-fi, with only Moon eclipsing this earthbound tale of desperation and deprivation, and what it is to be human. I wrote an article calling District 9 my film of the year (true at the time) and re-reading it I found myself remembering the exhilaration I had when writing the words: It is thrilling to see something this good, this understated and accomplished, so intelligently conveyed and emotionally powerful. It happens so rarely that a film transcends its genre and time with such grace and ease.

I usually hold off quoting my own writing but this film was a highlight of the year and the Blu-ray is a marvellous transfer, and in bringing District 9 to the small screen Sony have done the film proud. The menus are well designed and are covered in MNU graphics and logos, and Sony are championing their patented cinechat experience via BDLive but it is the special features that will sell this. The HD extras look at the design work of the landscape, the aliens and another looks at the improvisation work done by the actors and my personal favourite was the visual effects documentary which gives a good insight into Blomkamp’s understanding of visual effects and how such an integral part of the film was present at every stage of the production.

I couldn’t find the original trailers for the film (instead a promo for This Is It is given prominent status) but the documentaries about the making of District are great fun, given how little was known about the filmmaker and the actors involved there is the pervading sense that they all knew something impressive was being created and it’s great to see the enthusiasm behind the scenes.

I loved the film, and the Blu-ray is a must buy for fans of intelligent science fiction. The Blu-ray quality is phenomenal and it highlights the incredible visual effects but in bringing it to the domestic arena District 9 plays almost better as a documentary from another reality.

District 9 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on the 28th of December and you can win a copy of the Blu-ray in our competition here.

Blu-ray and DVD special features:

  • Joburg From Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9 – Interactive Map (Blu-ray only)
  • Director’s Commentary
  • The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log Three-Part Documentary
  • Koobus Big Gun
  • The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log – Chapter 3: Refining District 9
  • Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus
  • Innovation: Acting and Improvisation
  • Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9
  • Alien Generation: Visual Effects
  • CineCHAT – where viewers can send on-screen instant messages to their friends while watching the movie
  • MovieIQ – which allows viewers to immediately access continuously updated information on the cast & crew and explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music and soundtrack information all tied to scenes within the movie via BD-Live.