Random Thoughts: The agony & ecstasy of [film-release] anticipation

Yuu huu… it’s raining trailers this week isn’t it? First we’ve got the final Batman saga The Dark Knight Rises from Christopher Nolan, I’m sure y’all have seen the epic trailer by now. Well, I was watching The Artist [a flawless movie, review to come] on an advanced screening last night so I missed all the festivities around The Hobbit trailer release, but as soon as I get home I just had to fire up the trailer… see it below if you haven’t already:

Before I go on, here’s my two-cents on this trailer:

This beautiful trailer brings back memories of why I LOVE Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in the first place. The trailer captures the visual style and mood of the trilogy that we’ve come to love, but this time there’s one cast member I’m SUPER excited about… Richard Armitage! I announced his casting news in October of last year, so I kept waiting for Gandalf to announce the dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield… Whoa, he still looks hot under the dwarf make up, and boy he gets to sing, too!! One of the things I love about Richard is his deep baritone voice (just like Gregory Peck, he’s truly got the whole package on top of being tall, dark and handsome!). I REALLY hope this will bring more Hollywood roles for him. Come on, more casting agents ought to see BBC’s North & South already. Mr. Thornton FTW! Sorry, I just have to get that out of the way…

The rest of the ensemble cast is nothing short of phenomenal as well, on top of the original LOTR cast like Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, etc. I’m thrilled to see Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans and of course Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins. By the time the Howard Shore score comes on, I’ve got goosebumps all over again, I’m so ready to be transported to Middle Earth right about now!

Man oh man, there’s too much cinematic excitement this week I could spontaneously com-bust! I’m still recovering from the awesomeness of The Dark Knight Rises, and now this! My pal Terrence @ ScarletSp1der just had a mind-boggling poll asking us to do the impossible… that is to choose between Batman 3 or The Hobbit. Oh man that’s like Sophie’s Choice. I can’t, I can’t… and I won’t! I am excited for both equally despite those being two very different films. Fortunately, we don’t have to as they’re released a half a year apart!

With 2011 coming to a close, surely more trailers are to come as studios are hoping to build up the hype for their 2012 movies. Now, as a film lover, the contrasting emotion of agony & ecstasy of anticipating movies can be unbearable! With every joy we get of seeing a movie trailer/clip/featurette what have you, it’s always followed by the agony of waiting for its release! I mean, I’m already complaining about the 7-month wait for The Dark Knight Rises but The Hobbit won’t be out until next December 2013, a stinkin’ FULL YEAR from now!! Oh Mr. Jackson, the agony….

And that’s just two of them, there are a whole slew of movies I’m anticipating next year, here are just a shortlist I can think of right now (release date is for USA).

  • The Avengers –  May 4, 2012
  • Great Gatsby – December 25, 2012
  • Prometheus – June 8, 2012
  • Skyfall (Bond 23) – November 9, 2012
  • Total Recall – August 3, 2012

Not including other ones which release dates haven’t been announced yet such as All Things to All Men and two of Gerry Butler’s sports-themed movies Of Men and Mavericks and Playing the Field. As you can see, the earliest movie to be released on the list is The Avengers, and that’s almost a half a year wait.

As I’ve just seen The Artist, it makes me think people’s attitude about upcoming movies back in the day in the pre-Internet and social media era, before movie marketing constantly bombards us the way they do today. I mean, the average moviegoers probably didn’t know a movie was coming out until like  a month before. The only ‘hype’ the movie’s got is only through newspapers, radio and occasional TV spots. Back then going to the movies were such big events, people got dressed up and line up to see the new marquee film playing in their local theater, waiting to ‘escape’ into the world of the movies, forgetting their troubles for a couple of hours. Unless they’re the film critics, I bet they weren’t picking apart each scene or fuming that so and so sequence they saw on the trailer wasn’t included, etc. Today, we often come with certain preconceived expectations about a given movie long before the opening credits roll, so for better for worse, our experience of movie-watching is undoubtedly very different.

Anyway, that’s just an observation I just want to share with you. I guess it’s up to us to keep our excitement and anticipation in check, which is getting harder to do given the increasing ferocity of social media marketing. The studios certainly are making the most of ’em as my Twitter feed is abuzz with film updates almost every minute!!


What are your thoughts on this topic, folks? And while you’re at it, what are the top five films you’re anticipating next year?

Happy Birthday to one of my fave directors – Peter Jackson!

I know today’s Halloween but I really don’t care for this pagan holiday and horror flicks aren’t my forte, so I’d rather wish one of my fave directors, Peter Jackson, a happy 50th birthday instead.

It’s an interesting coincidence that the actress I featured yesterday made her debut in his film, Heavenly Creatures. I haven’t seen that one but it’s Jackson’s later films that really left a lasting impression for me.

I’ve updated my sidebar with Peter Jackson’s trivia today, who’s born as an only child in a small coastal town near Wellington, New Zealand. Apparently his love for film-making started out when he was only eight years old when a friend of his parents bought him a super 8mm movie camera. It reminds me of the Spielberg film Super 8 (perhaps Peter was the inspiration for the chubby kid Charles? :D)

I love a lot of Peter Jackson’s films, and I’m also thankful for his technological contribution to the film industry. His company Weta Digital is behind the technology that has created the new generation 3D special effects used in groundbreaking movies like his own Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So here are five movies I’m thankful for having Peter Jackson’s involvement. There’s a reason why he’s one of my 15 favorite film directors ever!

The Lord of the Rings

I was gonna list one of the best scenes, but really, that’s impossible. Besides, I’ve kind of done it in Viggo’s post not too long ago. So instead, I thought it might be fun to post this one of PJ doing a cameo in one of the LOTR movies, dressed like someone out of Battlefield Earth? I didn’t notice him in the battle scenes, well there’s always a reason to re-watch those LOTR movies!

King Kong

It’s a bummer that this film wasn’t as commercially-successful as they had hoped. I saw this on the big screen and was blown away by it. It’s technically-impressive — the SFX, the art deco look & feel, and of course, with his muse Andy Serkis embodying the giant ape with even bigger heart, we’ve got quite a monstrous epic of a film. Anyone who did not at least get a lump on their throat watching this ending really need to check their pulse!


District 9

Ok so PJ didn’t direct this one but he was one of the executive producers. In fact, if it weren’t for Jackson giving newbie director Neill Blomkamp $30 mil to make the movie he wanted, this movie might not have seen the light of day. I saw this on the big screen and was utterly blown away by it. It’s a gritty sci-fi that stayed with me long afterwards (read my full review). I was impressed by Sharlto Copley’s performance and I look forward to him teaming up w/ Blomkamp again for Elysium. This is by far one of the most heart-wrenching scenes from the film:


The Adventures of Tintin

As a big fan of the comics, I’m thrilled to see two directing legends are adapting this to the big screen! Yes I have high expectations for this one, but I do hope Spielberg and PJ won’t disappoint! So far the film has been quite successful overseas, earning about $55 mil in its first week. I wish it’d open sooner here, you’d think sometime around Thanksgiving would be perfect as a family-friendly feature. In any case, though I’m not typically a big fan of mo-cap technology, what I’ve seen so far gives me hope that there won’t be any ‘dead eyes’ syndrome in this one.

And last but not least … to the most-anticipated movie of 2012:

The Hobbit

Really, the worst thing about this LOTR prequel is the long wait! But I reckon it’ll be worth every second as PJ will take us back to the journey to Middle Earth. Forget The Avengers, I’d say The Hobbit won best ensemble cast in my book, what with the mix of LOTR alums: Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Elijah Woods, etc. and new cast members that include some of my favorites: Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, and James Nesbitt. Oh man, I told my friend Claire that if I had all the money in the world, I might just move there for the entire time they’re filming The Hobbit. I’ll even work for free! 😀 These video journals definitely get me salivating even more!



So happy birthday Peter Jackson! What’s your fave film(s) from this directing genius?

The Flix List: Four Best Film ‘Making-Of’ Documentaries

As a film lover and also a filmmaker wannabe, I love watching behind scenes stuff. It’s probably the closest thing for anyone to see what’s it like to be part of a film crew. Spike Lee once said in an interview, ‘had DVD existed when he was younger, he probably would never attended film school.’ He said you can learn so much from these behind the scenes documentaries that he recommended any film students to watch as much of them as possible.

My list contains the most in-depth look at how films were made and they’re at least 2 hours long, so you need to set some free time aside if you want to watch them. I’ll highlight the best part of each documentary.

1. The Making of Alien 3

This is probably the Holy Grail of behind the scenes docs, for years Fox kept it secret from the public because they didn’t want anyone to know what went on behind the scenes while Alien 3 was being filmed. The film was a box office disaster for them back in the early 90s and it almost destroyed David Fincher’s career.

You can find this documentary on the DVD version of Alien 3 or Blu-ray. I recommend you get the Blu-ray version because on the DVD, Fox edited out some of the segments where Fincher was bad mouthing their executives, while the Blu-ray version was uncut. It’s probably my favorite behind the scenes docs I’ve ever seen. They interviewed everyone who was involved in the project except Fincher, he disowned the film. Fox even invited him to come back and tell his side of the story but he refused since he didn’t want to re-live those ugly moments of his career.

Now if don’t have time to watch this documentary, you can read my earlier article of what went on behind the scenes of Alien 3.

2. The Making of Star Wars (Episode 4-6)

I assume if you’re a big Star Wars fan you’ve probably already seen the making of these films. Again I thought this was one of the best behind the scenes docs ever made, some of the highlights include:

  • Believe it or not, most of the Fox executives wanted to shut down the film because George Lucas was behind schedule. The film was set to come out in Christmas of 1976 but Lucas and his crew couldn’t finish it on time. Luckily for Lucas and film lovers everywhere, the president of Fox studios at the time was on Lucas’ side and told him to keep going and finish the film. Of course the rest is history but just think about how we came that close to never have seen a Star Wars film.
  • George Lucas had a heart attack during the shoot and he was only about 32 or 33 years old! He was so stressed out that Harrison Ford and the rest of the cast members tried to cheer him up every time they’re done shooting a scene. Lucas was constantly being pressured by the studio to finish the film and also had to deal with the harsh conditions of shooting in the desert.

    You can see some more behind-the-scenes pictures here.
  • The special effects team had to come up with new ways to shoot the space ships battle sequences. One of them said since there didn’t have stores like Best Buy, Dell or Apple back in those days, they had to build their own computers. Lucas hired a lot people right out of college, many of them graduated from MIT or Cal Tech.

Those are some of the good stuff you’ll see in the documentary, so if you have some free time I highly recommend you watch it.

3. The Making of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy

Another great in-depth look at how these mega budget films were made. You can find these documentaries on the DVD Extended Editions or Blu-ray. Some of the highlights were:

  • You get to see how Peter Jackson and his crew working together on the script and finding the cast for each roles in the films.

    Peter Jackson directing Viggo Mortensen
  • Jackson directed hundreds of people during the big battle in The Return of The King.
  • You can see how Gollum was created by the geniuses at Weta Digital.
  • My favorite part of the doc is when they showed Howard Shores score the films. I love the music of The Lord of the Rings films so to have seen how they created the music was so amazing. Below is one of the five-part video of the scoring process you can find on YouTube:

4. The Making of The Social Network

Another of David Fincher’s film made the list, only this time he was a willing participant. The Social Network was my favorite movie of last year and I thought for sure Fincher would finally win an Oscar for directing but he didn’t. Hopefully he’ll get the golden statue someday. This is probably the shortest documentary on the list but it was still an in dept look at how the film was made. Film students everywhere, I urge you to watch it. Here are some of the highlights you’ll see on the disc:

  • Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin had a couple of heated discussions about the motivations of certain characters in the film. They mostly fought about the relationship of Zuckerberg and his former best friend Eduardo Severin.

  • You’ll see Fincher directing his cast, it’s quite amazing to see how he listened to his actors and didn’t act like a dictator on the movie set. Usually a director of his status tends to be quite a mad man on the set and would tell his actors to do what he says or they’re fired.
  • The special effects crew showed how they placed Armie Hammer’s face over Josh Pence’s so they could be appear to be twins in the film.
  • Justin Timberlake talked about how he prepared to play the role of Sean Parker, even though he’d never met Sean Parker in person.

Well those are what I considered the best making of documentaries, have you seen any of them? Feel free to add any other documentaries that you have seen.

The Hobbit cast shapes up … hurray for Richard Armitage!

I have been following The Hobbit movie news rather casually the past few months, having loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The production seems to have hit a bunch of snags. First the director musical chairs (which I’m glad it finally goes back to Peter Jackson) and lately there’s the actors’ strike that may threaten the filming location to be moved from New Zealand to the UK or Eastern Europe.

But this week Warner Brothers finally revealed the cast of the movie (you can check out the various sources on its IMDb page), which got me jumping up and down with glee. As you probably know from various mentions in my blog, that I adore British actor Richard Armitage! Remember the best kiss and favorite couple meme post? He’s also my choice for Robin Hood when there was rumors they’re developing a futuristic version of the medieval hero. Those in the UK might be familiar with him as he’s currently starring in MI-5 and Strike Back series (when I visited London back in May, the poster of the later show was plastered all over the city with his face on ’em). Ever since I saw him in North & South and the Vicars of Dibley Christmas episodes, I’ve been wishing this talented actor would get a major role in a substantial Hollywood or UK production. But The Hobbit?? Oh my, this by far exceeds my expectation!

Richard will portray Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarfs (The fan art of what Richard would look like as Thorin is courtesy of theonering.net). Here’s what Peter Jackson himself said about the 39 year-old actor:

Click to enlarge

“Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield… We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle-Earth is in such good hands.”

Interesting that they pick someone standing at 6’2″ to play a dwarf (I’d think he’d make a fabulous Aragorn), but then again, John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli was taller than Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen at 6’1″. But according to his IMDb bio, Rhys-Davies’ height was exactly the right proportions to those of his hobbit co-stars and no body doubles were used in their shots together. The hobbits are supposed to average about 3′ 6″ (2 feet shorter than the actors who played them) and Gimli, at just over 4 feet tall, is about 2 feet shorter than the real Rhys-Davies. It’s fascinating to learn about the various technique of ‘dwarf’-ing the actors, Wikipedia lists the complicated use of scale doubles and forced perspective to achieve that effect.

English actor Martin Freeman

By the way, I apparently missed the fact that Richard will also have a small part in Captain America: The First Avenger as the hero’s Nazi nemesis Heinz Kruger, but his role is much more prominent in this LOTR prequel project. Not to mention a chance to work with prominent thespians such as Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Andy Serkis who are reportedly back (per IMDb) to reprise their roles from LOTR. The rest of the new Hobbit cast include: Martin Freeman (Love Actually, Hot Fuzz, Sherlock TV series) as Bilbo Baggins (Frodo’s uncle), Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) will play Kili and Fili, members of the Company of Dwarves. Graham McTavish (Secretariat) will play Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) will play Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) will play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow (King Kong) plays Dori, while Peter Hambleton (The Strip) will play Gloin (per Deadline).

Are you all anticipating this movie? We’ve got a long way to wait though until the first part of The Hobbit is released in December 2012.

Tintin film will be released late 2011 in 3D

This probably isn’t as huge a news to most American moviegoers. But as someone who grew up reading The Adventures of Tintin comics, I’ve been curiously following this 3D adaptation project for some time now.

The cast of Tintin comic strips

The hero of the comic strips created by Belgian artist Hergé is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter with his fox terrier Snowy (Milou in French). Though it didn’t quite catch on in the US, Wikipedia noted that the series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in over 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold to date. Its fun, captivating and even educational plots would span various genres from swashbuckling, fantastical adventures, political thrillers, to science fiction. The whisky-loving & eternally grumpy Captain Haddock, the genius but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus and the blundering twin detectives Thomson & Thompson never fail to deliver the laughs in various colorful predicaments.

Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are teaming up in an effort to bring Tintin to life in a motion-capture animated 3D film. Here’s a brief history of how the project came together. According to the movie page on Wikipedia, Spielberg’s a fan of the series since 1981, and that even Hergé himself thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice of bringing it to life. The Belgian author died the same week of their scheduled meeting in 1983, but his widow decided to give Spielberg the rights. Fellow comics fan Jackson, who had used motion capture in The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, suggested that a live action adaptation would not do justice to the comic books and motion capture was the best way of representing Hergé’s world of Tintin.

“We’re making them look photorealistic; the fibers of their clothing, the pores of their skin and each individual hair. They look exactly like real people – but real Herge people!” Jackson said of the film’s look.

Spielberg is in charge of directing and ‘capturing’ the actors’ performances, which include Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Tintin, with regular Jackson collaborator Andy Serkis (The Lord of The Rings‘ Golum) as Captain Haddock. Per Guardian UK, Jackson said that Spielberg has finishing filming. Whilst promoting his movie The Lovely Bones, Jackson told BBC: “Tintin is great. It’s made. The movie is cut together and now [we] are turning it into a fully-rendered film. So the movie, to some degree, exists in a very rough state.” However, it will be another two years before anyone sees the film, due to the amount of post-production work Jackson would have to do to convert all the data into a 3D world.

Photo courtesy of EMPIRE magazine
Spielberg directing Bell and Serkis as Jackson looked on

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the first in a proposed trilogy, will also feature the voices of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes. It’s been reported also that the initial plan was for Spielberg to direct the first movie, with Jackson taking the second and another unannounced film-maker the third, but studio Universal passed on the project last year, leading to a downscaling. The film will now come out under the auspices of Paramount and Sony. It is based on three Tintin books: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure.

Can’t wait to see what the creative genius behind two of the finest Hollywood filmmakers will do with this beloved comics. Alas, December 2011 is a really, really long time to wait!

It’s inevitable, District 9 sequel chatter has begun

Please put your scrawl here ...
Please put your scrawl here ...

Death and taxes aren’t the only things certain when it comes to the movie industry. Sequel is a sure bet as soon as a flick recoups at least the same amount it takes to produce. So now that District 9 already made more than its modest 30 million budget, it’s no surprise the sequel buzz has started swirling. Heck, the buzz was already so high even before the movie even opened. At the San Diego Comic Con last month, after Peter Jackson had only previewed the movie for the first time, people were already asking him about its future. Wisely, he said he would rather wait how the movie does and go from there.

Now, I’m torn with this. I REALLY like this movie that it should almost be left as it is. Sequels rarely do justice to the original, and a lot of flicks hardly ever merit a follow up. But by the same token, the movie also left me curious to see more of this new world, or mythology if you will, that Neill Blomkamp has created. Do I even dare to call this the next Star Wars? I wouldn’t go there as I for one wouldn’t want any George Lucas groupies to be all over me like a ton of bricks. But one thing I can assuredly say is that District 9 ends in such a way that made a lot of moviegoers go, ‘now what?’ So it seems that although the film makers weren’t exactly planning for District 10, or whatever else they’d end up calling it, they weren’t opposed to it, either. It also didn’t hurt the fact that, according to actor Sharlto Copley, the very nature of the production — its improvisatory dialogue, the filmmakers’ decision to shoot tons of material and see what developed — left nearly enough video on the cutting room floor for another installment. “There were a lot of exciting avenues to want to go down and you really [have to fit it all] into a small block of time,” he said.

Thus, with so many angles and back stories Blomkamp can explore and the biggest question will be which one should he take?

The folks at Cinema Blend has crafted some interesting ideas. For those who haven’t seen the movie, I’d rather you skip it as it contains some major spoilers. I personally don’t have a preference as to a specific angle, but just like Batman 3, I’d only be interested if the original brain behind the terrific film—in that case Chris Nolan—were involved. Similarly, Blomkamp has done something really special with District 9, and Cinema Blend’s writer Josh Tyler nailed it here with his suggestion of what NOT to do: Please, Mr. Blomkamp don’t go Hollywood. You’re going to get a bigger budget for the sequel, a much bigger budget I’ll wager. Don’t turn it down. Use it. Use it to make something even bigger and better. Spend it on special effects and wicked cool sets. Don’t use it to buy yourself an over the top sports car, move to LA, and turn the thing over to Hollywood’s never ending cadre of mega-producers. We don’t need to see Sharlto Copley replaced by Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. You don’t have to bring in Jada Pinkett Smith to be Wikus’s sassy, tough as nails sidekick. Don’t step back into a supervising role and allow Michael Bay to take over. For that matter don’t even go to Hollywood. Stay in New Zealand, with Peter Jackson, and make your film.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Well, I guess I’ll just keep an eye on this one and see what they’ll do. Whatever route they’d take, I’m somewhat rest-assured by Peter Jackson’s response to MTV news in regards to the sequel buzz:

“I believe movies should come from the heart, and if there’s any sequel or continuation of District 9, it should only be because there’s a good idea involved, not because it’s a money-making venture,”

For that reason alone, it’s all the more imperative that nobody else should helm any follow-up to this soon-to-be-a-classic scifi flick.

Flixchatter Review: District 9

District 9

It’s nearly eleven hours since I saw the movie and its effect lingers with me still. I haven’t been this blown away by something I saw at the movies since The Dark Knight last year. Just like that blockbuster, I can say this with confidence, BELIEVE THE HYPE.

But unlike the caped crusader tale, District 9 was an original story, based on first-time director Neill Blomkamp’s documentary-style extraterrestrial- on-earth short story Alive in Jo’burg. When I first saw the trailer a few months ago in a theater, I quickly dismissed it as some weird sci-fi flick probably way too out there for my taste, even though the name Peter Jackson did piqued my interest, having loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then the buzz started to really hit and the more I read and heard about it, the more I intrigued I was by it. Buoyed by the promise of originality, edge-of-your-seat sequences and unusual film-making style, I went to see it with a pretty high expectation. Suffice it to say, I didn’t leave the theater disappointed. In fact, it was quite a spectacle, just as I hope it would be.

The film grabbed my attention right from the beginning—with documentary-style and realistic hand-held camerawork—and didn’t let go. We’re told from various ‘interviews’ with experts and insiders of the present day, that an alien mother ship arrived on earth 20 years ago but somehow ran out of fuel, leaving it stalled hovering above the city of Johannesburg. When the military finally went up there to find out what’s going on, they discovered a whole bunch of alien creatures stuck in the ship in malnourished and destitute condition. The government then set up an area called District 9 to quarantine over a million of these crustacean creatures—derogatorily called ‘prawns’ by humans—that resembles a slum like nothing you’ve ever seen. I read Roger Ebert’s review in which he called these aliens disgusting, and boy was he right, but what blew my mind was how realistic they look and in a bizarre way, how I came to eventually see them as more than repulsive.

The ‘hero’ of the movie didn’t start out like one, in fact, he was so much an unlikely protagonist that made his transformation to one all the more affecting. Wikus van der Merwe is nothing but a careerist in a bureaucratic Multi-National United (MNU), a private company assigned to control the chaotic population of the aliens. His boss—who happens to be his own father in-law—assigns him to lead the tremendous project of moving these aliens to a different quarter. Of course, this is more than mere ‘population control,’ there’s a pretty obvious agenda here involving the highly-advanced alien weaponry that only the aliens themselves can operate it. That’s all I’m going to say, as it’s best for you to find out for yourself why that matters.

The action pretty much starts as soon as Wikus gets infected by an alien liquid whilst on a mission to deliver the eviction notices to the aliens. It’s actually quite comical when he goes around knocking on doors and ask the aliens to put their ‘scrawl’ on a piece of paper. What I don’t get is, why in the world would these people go into such a filthy and uncharted area without so much as a glove or mask! I mean, you’d be hard-pressed not to get infected. In any case, Wikus goes from a leader all jovial and gleeful to being a ruthlessly hunted man. Now, Wikus isn’t exactly a moral man, but he’s almost saintly compared to the military people who merely sees these aliens as mere disposable objects to be exploited and would do anything to them in order to get what they’re looking for. Let’s just say Wikus finds this out the harsh way when they see what has happened to him.

Newcomer South African actor Sharlto Copley is excellent in his debut film, as the tragic character Wikus he provides the emotional core of the film as he takes us along for the out of this world ride of his life. Strangely enough, his unlikely alien cohort, Christoper Johnson (yep, that’s the crustacean’s name), also delivers some of the film’s touching and tearjerker scenes. He’s probably the most noble character in the entire film, and his interaction with his young son is just like a human father to a human son. It’s not such a novelty idea for filmmakers to make the audience care for the aliens, but this film took it further in that at the end of the film, I have more sympathy for him than for some of the humans depicted here. And eventually, so does Wikus. It’s as if he finds his humanity as he struggles to keep it. The best part is, it’s such a believable and seamless transformation, not simply because the script says so and we’re blatantly told to accept it.

This movie is billed as an action sci-fi, and it is. But it works just as well as a psychological drama and a political allegory about racism and immigration still prevalent in the world today. Yet this movie isn’t preachy, Blomkamp merely presents things as they are, well as they might have been I should say. Jackson’s company Weta Digital did an amazing job in creating this gritty and realistic-looking world, it truly felt real, it’s as if I just finished watching real news footage of an actual event.

This isn’t a film for everyone though, and definitely not for the faint of hearts. I had trepidation going in as I’m very squeamish about stuff, but even with all the brutal violence, filth and often stomach-churning scenes, the payoff is greater that makes the whole experience worthwhile. I’m so glad to have seen such a bravura piece of cinema that’s so rarely found today. It’s not without flaws, but overall it’s such a distinctly moving, poignant and provocative film that makes you ponder long after the end credits roll. It sure left me wonder as I left the cinema, if such an event were to happen in our world today, how would we react?

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Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts.