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'Elysium' exclusive: Will there be a 'District 9' sequel?

Ever since Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 earned $211 million worldwide and scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, fans have been clamoring for a sequel. There have been some promising signs, including a report from Wired magazine that Blomkamp, 33, has written an 18-page treatment for District 10. But, unfortunately, it may be a long, long time before he gets around to it. Blomkamp begins shooting Chappie, based on his 2004 short film Tetra Vaal, in Johannesburg in September, followed by a micro-budget ribald comedy, Mild Oats. Plus, he’s frankly not in the head space for sequels and franchises just yet. “I’m not actively trying to avoid them,” he tells EW exclusively. “The problem is that I have so many ideas for films that I feel like I’m not going to have enough time to do them all before I die. If I don’t get a chance to at least try making some of those first, I’ll feel like I’ve let myself down.”

Still, there’s hope. If Blomkamp does decide to sequel-ize any of his films, District 9 is at the top of his list. “The world of District 9 has so many hilarious, bizarre, interesting, thematically linked things, and there are multiple stories to tell in that world that are all legitimate.” To do it, he’s just going to have to run out of other ideas, first. “The equation becomes: am I not excited enough about other ideas that I’m willing to return to District 9. And at the moment, I have other things that I’m really into.”

elysiumFor more on Blomkamp, and his new movie Elysium, pick up a copy of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on sale now.

'District 9' duo, Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley, reunite for 'Elysium'

District-9-BlomkempImage Credit: Trent OpalochDirector Neill Blomkamp (pictured, left) – whose first feature, District 9, was nominated for Best Picture last year — is readying his follow-up, and he already has a familiar face by his side. A source close to the project tells EW that District 9 star Sharlto Copley, who also played Murdoch in last summer’s The A-Team movie, will be part of the ensemble cast that comes together for Elysium, another political, socially-conscious sci-fi movie. (Blomkamp is still searching for the film’s lead.) Contrary to reports, the futuristic tale will be set on Earth, not some distant planet.

Oscars: Ten best picture nominees, nine good choices, and one for congeniality

You know us critics, we’re used to shrugging our shoulders about the whole Oscar rigamarole, aware that if we stamped our little feet and huffed, “The great Romanian film Police, Adjective was snubbed, snubbed I tell you!” we’d be kicked out of Starbucks for obnoxious cronyism. (For the record, it was: Police, Adjective is great, and I commend it to your Netflix queue.) But as an on-duty critic, and as an off-duty ticket-buyer, too, nothing that did or didn’t receive an Oscar nomination today surprises me, bothers me, or, for that matter, shakes my confidence in my own taste. You feel the same way, right? You either liked or didn’t like A Serious Man (I loved it); you either think The Blind Side is an uplifting, feel-good drama of hope or a gooey fable (I’m with Team Goo, much as I cheer Bullock). But what the heck, good for them for nabbing Best Picture nominations.

And good for the Wizards of Oscar for doubling the number of Best Picture nominees. Why not? The ten in contention are as reasonable as any to represent a consensus of discriminating-but-not-elitist American movie-going taste in 2009. Without ten slots, Up! wouldn’t have been recognized for the brilliant creation it is, as emotionally rich as any live-action title on the list. (Of course, Up! also received a reality-check nomination in the Animated Feature Film category, so if — er, when a live-action title wins Best Picture after all, Up! still stands to win in Pixar’s more traditional category.) Without ten slots, the utterly original politico-sci-fi serio-comedy District 9 (above) might have been left hovering in the air, awardless, like an alien spaceship stalled over Johannesburg.

And so long as I can sustain this magnitude of something-for-everyone amiability, I can proclaim here with Zen calm that this year’s roster of Oscar nominees for Best Picture is very good. Between now and the Academy Awards on March 7, I might give a passing thought to what the Best Picture list might have looked like if the ballot had been kept to five. (Got any suggestions for me?) But mostly, I’m happy to go about my business, which, between now and Oscar night, involves telling anyone who will listen that it will be the crime of the century if Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Director for The Hurt Locker.

Really. Don’t mess it up with Bigelow, Oscar voters, or I’ll have to care.

Summer movies wrap-up, Pt. III: 'District 9,' 'Funny People,' 'Bruno,' and building a better blockbuster

In the last of three video chats looking back on the summer movies of 2009, Lisa and Owen talk about some funny people, the tyranny of the box office, and how to build a better blockbuster.

Here’s Part I of our Summer Movies Wrap-Up (Transformers, Star Trek, Public Enemies).

Here’s Part II of our Summer Movies Wrap-Up (Up, The Hangover, Harry Potter, chick flicks, and indie hits).

Movie trailers: giving 'em the old razzle-dazzle

This is my last link to That Movie About Oppressed Aliens, I promise–you may be wondering about now whether all of us at EW have been infected by alien ooze–but  I keep thinking about a friend’s response recently when I told him I thought he’d like District 9. “Really?” he said. “The trailer made it look pretty junky.” So I explained that the “junkiness” he saw was an essential part of the movie’s aesthetic and blah blah blah…But  the thing is, if all you had to go on when picking the movies you want to see are trailers running at the multiplex or on TV and YouTube, you’re bound to get a pretty screwy sense of how good–or bad–a movie actually is.

Sometimes, true, you can tell: The duller the romantic comedy, the more likely the trailer is to  tell you the whole story and use up the best scenes. But more often, preview clips rely so much on sensory saturation to convey elements of action, horror, suspense, or whatever, that it’s impossible for a thoughtful moviegoer to grasp the movie’s actual intelligence–or stupidity. I’ve already seen the trailer for Shutter Island two or three times, and I have no clue about the movie’s story or artistic style. I’m really looking forward to this one–it’s made by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m there–but the trailer is no help to me. You?

I’ve come to accept that the more sophisticated and innovative a movie is, the worse the trailer is likely to  READ FULL STORY

'District 9': Playing spot the reference, and checking out Neill Blomkamp's roots

We live in an era of cut-and-paste, mix-and-match, sample-and-recontextualize pop culture. Just because a movie is blazingly original doesn’t mean that it has to be shy about what it borrows from the past. Quentin Tarantino is the unapologetic king of recombinant pop — the auteur as mix-master. And in District 9, the aliens-as-dispossessed-refugees sci-fi thriller that has already struck a huge chord with audiences, director Neill Blomkamp wears his influences lightly but proudly. What makes the movie mean something is that, like Kill Bill or The Matrix, it doesn’t feel like the sources it recalls; it doesn’t feel like any other movie you’ve seen. That said, when you watch District 9, it’s almost impossible to resist playing Spot the Reference/Influence/Allusion/Homage. I’ve listed half a dozen of the obvious ones. How many more can you find?

Alien Nation. The benign and cultish 1988 sci-fi movie, which was turned into a TV series just a year later, featured a race of extraterrestrial visitors who looked like friendly, wigless department-store mannequins with their brains worn on the outside. A far cry from D9‘s dreadlock-faced Praying Mantisoid thingies, to be sure — but the film highlighted the concept of aliens as entrenched outsiders living as second-class citizens, as the other, within human society. READ FULL STORY

Lisa and Owen talk about 'District 9'

The stars are aligned: Owen and I are on the same planet about District 9.

Meanwhile,  all our talk about lousy living conditions for the movie’s unwanted aliens–both in their crippled spaceship and in their  South African ghetto–has made me nostalgic for other space-age movies in which accommodations are less than gleaming. No disrespect to the great, streamlined interior decorating aboard the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, but I what I really love are movies where the interiors look just as funky as you know they’re bound to be when people (or aliens) are cooped up for long periods of time with limited changes of underwear.

Along those lines, I ‘ve always loved the grunginess of the Western-style galactic showdown Outland–it’s High Noon on a volcanic moon of Jupiter, with Sean Connery in the Gary Cooper role as marshal. You can almost smell the B.O. (In particular, I love when strung-out workers blow up inside their space suits, for reasons integral to the plot. But that’s just me.)

What are your favorite sci-fi movies in which housekeeping services aren’t up to snuff?

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