Tuesday, 24 August 2010


This was always on my get round to buying once it's cheap enough list I just never seemed to get around to it until a few days ago when I saw it down to £3.99 on Amazon so, yeah, sure, all right, why not, so I did.

Let's get the obvious out of the way from the beginning. Of course it's a giant metaphor for apartheit South Africa. It's a South African-made movie, set in South African, with a South African cast and crew with some special effects and producing from Peter Jackson and his sfx studio Weta. A giant space ship appears over Johannesburg and is found to contain thousands of aliens who have no idea where they are or how they got there so they are dumped in a Soweto-style slum and left to fend for themselves. Twenty years later and they are considered the lowest of the low, thieves, scavengers (which they are and have no choice) and worse, possessors of vile personal habits. From a human point of view this is understandable as they're derogatively called prawns and do have a certain resemblance to them, especially their young. Have a look-
That's the setup. The story begins as a documentary with the focus on Neil Blomkamp's character an amiable but not too bright manager (with the Afrikaner name of van der Mewe) who is given the job of running the distribution of eviction letters to the aliens by his father-in-law. The company has been trying to exploit alien technology for years and has been frustrated by the fact the weapons need an alien biological component for them to work. Van der Mew is just as prejudiced as everyone else, especially as he works for the private company the govenment gave the job to of dealing with the aliens but he does know them, understands their language and doesn't like it when they are casually brutalised. Brutality against them for a good reason like self defence he doesn't mind at all.

Needless to say the prawns don't want to be relocated to what our 'hero' admits at one stage is effectively a concentration camp. As he accidentally, and without even realising at first, comes across a prawn who has to have been one of the crew rather than the workers and is engaged in repairing a shuttle hidden for twenty years, he is infected with alien dna and begins to change. When the company he works realise what's happening, his death is faked and he's tortured into using the alien weapons. When he realises that they are going to use his changing body for parts he manages to escape.

I'll say no more about the plot. This is really an excellent SF film and genuinely original. The protagonist alone is a refreshing change and Blomkamp is terrific in the role. Van der Mewe is a moderately bright and well meaning likeable but gauche klutz who loves and is loved by his wife and who finds an inner strength and a stronger morality when everyone he knows turns on him and he in turn turns to a member of a despised species for help.

This is an outstanding film and I can't recommend it enough. (Incidentally, this isn't an Amazon review.)

Post Script.

Incredibly stupid mistake up above. Neil Blomkamp is the director and the actor I praised so much in the lead role is Sharlto Copley

No comments: