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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

District 9 [Blu-ray]

 

(Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: TriStar Pictures

Video: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:52:15.729

Disc Size: 45,202,568,585 bytes

Feature Size: 24,495,630,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.69 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard case

Release date: December 22nd, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3958 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3958 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2717 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2717 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Hindi, none

 

Extras:

• movieIQ: connects you to access real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
cinechat
BD Exclusive: Joburg From Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9 - Interactive Map
Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Neill Blomkamp
• 23 Deleted Scenes (23:28 in HD)
The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log -- Three-Part Documentary (34:19 in HD!)
Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus (9:52 in HD)
Innovation: Acting and Improvisation (12:05 in HD!)
Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9 (13:18 in HD!)
Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9 (10:18 in HD!)

Digital Copy for PSP, PC or Mac

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startlingly original science fiction thriller that "soars on the imagination of its creators" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). With stunning special effects and gritty realism, the film plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed... only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he will discover what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.

 

 

The Film:

For decades — at least since Orson Welles scared the daylights out of radio listeners with “War of the Worlds” back in 1938 — the public has embraced the terrifying prospect of alien invasion. But what if, notwithstanding the occasional humanist fable like “E.T.,” all those movies and television programs have been inculcating a potentially toxic form of interplanetary prejudice?

“District 9,” a smart, swift new film from the South African director Neill Blomkamp (who now lives in Canada and who wrote the screenplay with Terri Tatchell), raises such a possibility in part by inverting an axiomatic question of the U.F.O. genre. In place of the usual mystery — what are they going to do to us? — this movie poses a different kind of hypothetical puzzle. What would we do to them? The answer, derived from intimate knowledge of how we have treated one another for centuries, is not pretty.

A busy opening flurry of mock-news images and talking-head documentary chin scratching fills in a grim, disturbingly plausible scenario. Back in the 1980s a giant spacecraft stalled in the skies over Johannesburg. On board were a large number of starving and disoriented creatures, who were rescued and placed in a temporary refugee camp in the part of the city that gives the film its title. Over the next 20 years the settlement became a teeming shantytown like so many others in the developing world, with the relatively minor distinction of being home to tall, skinny bipeds with insectlike faces and bodies that seem to combine biological and mechanical features. Though there is evidence that those extraterrestrials — known in derogatory slang as prawns because of their vaguely crustacean appearance — represent an advanced civilization, their lives on Earth are marked by squalor and dysfunction. And they are viewed by South Africans of all races with suspicion, occasional pity and xenophobic hostility.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

District 9 looks remarkably crisp on Blu-ray from Sony. The image quality is exceptionally smooth - even the more obvious CGI effects. The high contrast, at times, reported theatrically, seems to have translated exceptionally well in 1080P. The color palette leans to the cooler, more passive, end of the scale but this is an impressive representation of how it appeared theatrically. The frequently jittering camera, giving an pseudo-improvisational aura, still produces a solid appearance as do the extensive digital visuals. This is a dual-layered transfer utilizing the AVC encode with the film taking up about 25 Gig. Detail has some very strong moments and there is some depth notable. With the 'documentary feel' of the film there is some authentic gloss in certain sequences. Contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. The aliens themselves look as alive and real as you might anticipate from the stills. This Blu-ray has a genuine feel with purposeful weakness in the video-eque broadcast stock once again instilling the film's verit leanings. I really have no complaints with this Blu-ray appearance that seems un-manipulated and dynamically sharp. Aggressive thumbs up!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

I've kind of thrown in the towel in terms of critiquing these lossless track. District 9's DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3958 kbps is perfect. It reports bountiful separation, bass response and strong high end. I couldn't find any negative issue with its rendering at all. Clinton Shorter's score is adept and crisp - sounding bountiful and deep when called upon. The audio supports the film in all sonic areas. There are subtitles available - even optional English for the commentary! My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

After pressing 'Play' you have the immediate option to opt for Movie IQ which, if chosen, includes a small icon while the film runs which you can access to have filmic details and information displayed on screen. This only works if your player is connected to the Internet - ditto for the cineChat feature which allows you to chat to friends as the film runs. Supplements include a commentary with Director/Co-Writer Neill Blomkamp, 23 deleted scenes and the three-part documentary “The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log.” The first part of the documentary explores the pre-production process and creation of the world of District 9, Peter Jackson’s role in producing the film, and the unorthodox approach to using South Africa as the setting for this film. The second part delves into the shooting style of the film utilizing small handheld cameras to tell the tale, the difficulties of shooting in Johannesburg, the challenges of shooting scenes that would include visual effects later in the process, and the overall challenges encountered during the production process. The third chapter of the documentary investigates the task of designing and editing the film's sound effects, and the general challenges encountered during the editing process. There are also four featurettes: “Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus” looks at the practical effects employed by filmmaker Blomkamp and the artists at WETA to create Wikus’s metamorphosis into an alien; “Innovation: The Acting and Improvisation of District 9” shows Blomkamp’s direction of the actors, his encouragement of improvisation, and the actors’ process for working together under these guidelines; “Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9” depicts the amazing design and theory behind the world of District 9, including Alien Design, Alien Technology, Space Travel, MNU and The First Reaction Force Battalion; and “Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9” offers an in-depth look at the process of shooting visual effects scenes and incorporating CGI aliens realistically into the scenes in post-production. Bonus features exclusive to the Blu-ray Disc include a Digital Copy and the Interactive Map feature “Joburg from Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9,” that allows users to explore alien technology and weaponry, MNU mercenary armory, and more from the film through a series of satellite maps, schematics and photo-real files. The Digital Copy file will be included on the Blu-ray Disc for transfer to the PSP via PlayStation3, a PC or a Mac.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The occasional heavy-handed analogies that spread liberally throughout District 9 partially expose its brilliance. The quasi-documentary persuasion of the film leans to a political undercurrent. It works even with the offhanded humor that is sometimes less obvious to detect. This is an interesting science-fiction - with impressive storytelling and a purposefully unsettling conclusion. Even beyond looking too deep this is a competent and rewarding film experience and the Blu-ray does it all. The remarkable A/V transfer, extensive supplements and excellent price make it a deal home theater aficionados can't, nor shouldn't, pass up. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

December 14th, 2009

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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