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District 99. District 9

Although Elysium has been less than uniformly lauded, District 9 proved to much more consistently appreciated. In fact, it is seldom remarked that District 9 is stylistically a bit of a jumble, starting off as a mockumentary before dropping and then picking back up the format in an inconsistent manner. Fortunately, the script, subtext, acting and action are so superb that such nagging flaws don’t affect either our enjoyment or appreciation of one of the best sci-fi debuts for many a Moon.

As the annoying and slightly ridiculous bureaucrat who in trying to clear the eponymous slum winds up becoming infected, Sharlto Copley gives one of the great sci-fi performances of the decade. Desperate to somehow find a way of putting things right as he is hunted by the authorities and watches on in horror as his body transforms in front of him, Wikus goes from being a repellant racist to an incredibly sympathetic victim of circumstance. His distress at being used to fire alien weapons, his horror at the treatment of aliens but his continued conviction that it can all still somehow be “undone” is incredibly well handled and eschews the more obvious Dances With Prawns arc that Blomkamp could so easily have slipped into. Like Minority Report, District 9 takes a compelling issue, this time our treatment of immigrants and our attitude towards those of other races and shackles it to compelling (and at times pretty visceral) action and hard sci-fi. It was always going to be unrealistic to expect Elysium to match up to this.

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.