The short that later became one of the best sci-fi films of the decade
"We don't want to be here, this place doesn't want us... we have nothing, nothing."
I feel like Neil Blomkamp has been receiving a lot of criticism lately for Elysium and Chappie, but there is no doubt in my mind that much of that has to do with how much expectations we put on him after delivering one of the better sci-fi pics of the decade, District 9. His style hasn't changed much, but of course the social commentary from that film hasn't had the same impact in his most recent films. In 2005 Blomkamp made an interesting short that would later be the basis for his feature film District 9. In Alive in Joburg he already had the social commentary of the story worked out through this documentary style film making and even had Sharlto Copley play a small role in a film he would later star in (and which would change his career). The social commentary here is just as sharp as in District 9, and Neil actually incorporated interviews of many South Africans referring to Zimbabwean refugees in real life which in the short are made to be referring to the aliens that have invaded Johannesburg. It is a clear metaphor of racism and division of social classes (referring to South Africa's Apartheid era). It's also impressive to see some of the special effects here, which look great for a film shot on such a low budget. So impressive that it caught Peter Jackson's attention at the time who wanted Neil to direct the screenplay adaptation of Halo, but the project was later shelved. I'm glad Blomkamp was given the funds to expand this small film into a full feature length movie, because it turned out to be one of the best sci-fi movies of the decade: District 9.
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