Make it Snappy: District 9

To what lengths must we go to feel another's pain and know we are alike? Only when "infected" with an alien life-form does Wikus become, well, fully human. Enduringly, we all want to go home. Each stranded in the world of the other, Wikus and Christopher share this yearning and its dilemmas and, from across a great chasm, come to be allies and even brothers. Quickly arriving at Central New York multiplexes after wide release on August 14th, District 9 is an exhilarating action film that's also way better crafted and more thoughtful than you'd ever expect. As executive producer, hit mogul Peter Jackson "presents" this first-time feature from South African director Neill Blomkamp. In the largely South African cast, Copely delivers a stunning, high energy performance as the MNU bureaucrat who actually does love his wife Tania (Vanessa Haywood) and has more gumption than anybody previously imagined. One by one, his father-in-law (MNU's CEO), the mercenary chief and the gangster running District 9's black market all get more than they bargained for out of this frightened, unhip little guy they were planning to swat aside.

"District 9" also owes a great deal to other sci-fi movies. Part of the pleasure of watching it involves realizing that a certain vocabulary has evolved at this point that comments on more than the action at hand (satisfying as that may be). From Spielberg's "Minority Report" (2002), for example, we see the manually operated blue holographic computer functions that hover in mid-air (predicting your own smart phone's apps). The Wachowski brothers' "Matrix" trilogy (1999 -- 2003) provided familiarity with the notion that new knowledge and abilities could be "plugged in" instead of acquired through laborious, old-fashioned step-by-step learning (see the part where Wikus, inside what we might best call an alien Humvee, finds himself understanding its operation and channeling Ellen Ripley).

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