In a fog of chick flicks, zombie epics and insipid action epics, this little jewel of a film is welcome and incredibly powerful.
Aliens have landed on Earth before, but never so anticlimactically in Johannesburg, South Africa. A dead in the water space vehicle hangs silently for months before curious technicians break in to find a million sick and dying aliens, who, once discovered must be cared for. Deposited in what amounts to a huge resettlement camp outside Johannesburg, the forces of social nature quickly apply.
Civility, propriety and legality within the overcrowded, miserable and filthy camp are suspended. Corporate weasels looking to make some kind of profit cover up the specter of unauthorized medical experiments on unwilling aliens. Ultimately they become undesirables the local citizens want moved anywhere else.
Finally a smarmy corporate bureaucrat (Sharlto Copley) is picked to lead the expedition that will resettle them in a worse site 200 km away, far from the city. Out of sight, out of mind. Incredibly silly, even for dense bureaucrats, the letter of the law needs to be fulfilled by getting each alien to sign off on an eviction notice, with predictable results.
During an eviction, Copley becomes contaminated with a substance meant to provide an escape attempt, and slowly begins to morph into an alien. This changes everything. The same corporate geeks that chose him for the assignment now want to dissect him, the Army is tired of chasing him and wants to kill him, and by a fortuitous turn of events, he discovers alignment and allegiances to survive he never dreamed of.
That’s all you get.
You will see some similarities to the 1986 film “Aliens” as it pertains to the interest of corporate entities looking to find a profit in dangerous endeavors. There’s an especially touching scene with the Alien frozen in shock after seeing what’s been done to his kind. It’s a very touching human moment.
Filmed in “Blair Witch” style, seemingly with hand held cameras, the production is stunning. Deftly directed by newcomer Neill Blomkamp and produced by the Stanley Kubrick of our generation, Peter Jackson.
Without compromising the end, I will tell you to keep an eye out for the last talking head news analyst asking a very interesting question about what comes next.
This is the best film of the summer and will probably be the best film of the year.
I give it four and a half of five squirming tentacles.