blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray: District 9

District 9 is a sci-fi drama about aliens stranded in South Africa which became one of the surprise hits of the year with its clever mix of action, politics and dazzling SFX.

After being recruited to do the aborted Halo movie by Peter Jackson, director Neill Blomkamp revived a short film of his which was a science-fiction thriller where stranded alien refugees are exiled to a slum in Johannesburg.

The story explores what happens to a South African bureaucrat (Sharlto Copley) assigned to relocate the creatures, derogatorily referred to as “prawns”, after he is infected with a strange liquid.

A combination of many alien films and TV shows from Alien Nation, V and even Independence Day, it mixes political allegory with a more conventional thriller narrative.

Copley gives a strong performance in the central role and the visual realisation of the aliens is stunning with the designs coming from WETA Workshop and effects by Image Engine.

Funded by QED, it was picked up by Sony who did a shrewd marketing campaign and achieved one of the summers genuine breakthrough hits, without any recognisable stars, a first time director and working from little known source material.

In a year of overblown and tedious sci-fi/action fare such as Transformers 2 and GI: Joe, this was a breath of fresh air.

The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are as follows:


  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • English HOH and Hindi subtitles
  • Director’s Commentary
  • The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log Three-Part Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes

Blu-ray Disc

Coded for all regions (A, B and C), extras are presented in HD. The transfer on the Blu-ray looks fantastic and is one of the best presented discs I have seen all year in terms of picture quality. Features include:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA
  • English Audio Description Track
  • English*, English HOH, French and Hindi subtitles (*also on extras)
  • Director’s Commentary
  • The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log Three-Part Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • BD Exclusives:
  • BD-Live: movieIQ & cinechat
  • Featurette: “Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus”
  • Featurette: “Innovation: The Acting and Improvisation of District 9”
  • Featurette: “Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9”
  • Featurette: “Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9”
  • Joburg from Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9” – Interactive Map

> Buy District 9 on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> District 9 at the IMDb
> Official site

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Tuesday 28th December 2009


District 9 (Sony): A sci-fi drama about aliens landing in South Africa  featuring no stars and an unknown  director became one of the surprise hits of the year with a clever mix of action, politics and dazzling SFX. [Click here for the full review]

The Hurt Locker (Lionsgate/Optimum): One of the most acclaimed films of the decade was this tense drama about a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, directed by Kathryn Bigelow from a script by journalist Mark Boal. [Click here for the full review]



1941 (Universal) [Buy on DVD]
A Dangerous Man (Optimum) [Buy on DVD]
Darker Than Black Vols 5 & 6 (Manga) [Buy on DVD]
Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Darkside (Fox) [Buy on Import DVD]
Kitaro and the Millennium Curse (Manga) [Buy on DVD]
Kitaro Movie (Manga) [Buy on DVD]
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Season 4 (Universal Playback)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 10 (Universal Playback)
Life Season 2 (Universal Playback) [Buy on DVD]
Misfits Series 1 (4DVD) [Buy on DVD]
The Final Destination (EIV) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
The Gold Diggers (BFI) [Buy on DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for 2009


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 4th September 2009

UK Cinema Releases 04-09-2009



District 9 (Sony Pictures): One of the surprise films of the summer is this sci-fi action film directed by Neil Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. The premise is Independence Day in Johannesburg with a twist – here the government and military are oppressing visiting aliens (dubbed ‘prawns’) who are herded into refugee camps.

Based on a short film Blomkamp had previously made, it starts as a mock-documentary following a government supervisor (Sharlto Copley) as he tries to move the aliens out of their camps but soon turns into something else after things take an unexpected turn.

A clever and engaging premise is helped by a convincing central performance by Copley and some marvellous visual effects by WETA which really bring the aliens to life, especially in the daytime sequences. Although the transition between the faux-documentary approach and shoot-em-up actioner isn’t always successful there is enough energy and thought here to make this one of the best films of its type in the last couple of years.

Made a comparatively modest for $30 million, the project came about after Jackson’s plans for Halo film with Blomkamp fell through and they chose to expand his 2005 short film Alive in Joburg and film it in South Africa. QED International fully financed the production, underwriting the negative cost, and Sony acquired the distribution rights (under the TriStar Pictures banner) for the US, UK and other key territories.

After screening at Comic-Con, the buzz began to build in earnest and a savvy marketing campaign (along with a certain ‘ooh, what’s this?’ factor) meant that the film hit the top spot at the US box office. Sony can expect similar box office returns here and it would be a shock if it didn’t get to number 1 this week. [London & Nationwide / Cert 15]

(500) Days of Summer (Fox): An indie romantic comedy directed by Marc Webb about a woman (Zooey Deschanel) who doesn’t believe true love exists and a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who falls for her.

The narrative is presented out of sequence, with each scene being introduced by which of the 500 days it is. The film got mostly positive reviews when it opened in the US back in July and although more naturally sour UK critics will be less embracing it could do decent business amongst audiences not fancying District 9.

Fox Searchlight did a decent job releasing it Stateside (where it grossed $25 million on a production budget of $7.5m) and Fox here can expect decent returns despite the lack of major star power. [Odeon West End & Nationwide / Cert 12A]



Big River Man (Revolver Entertainment): A documentary that follows the Slovenian ultra marathon swimmner Martin Strel, as he attempts to cover 3,375 miles in what is being billed as the world’s longest swim. Strel previously completed record swims in the Danube, Mississippi and Yangzte rivers and holds several Guinness World Records. [London & Key Cities / Cert 15]

Bustin’ Down The Door (Metrodome): Surfing documentary directed by Jeremy Gosch which chronicles the rise of professional surfing in the early 70s. [BFI Imax London / Cert 15]

Passchendaele (High Fliers Films): A Canadian war film written, directed by and starring Paul Gross which focuses on the experiences of his grandfather, Michael Dunne, a soldier who served in the 10th Battalion, CEF in the First World War at the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). [Odeon Panton Street / Cert 15]

Red Baron (Showbox Entertainment): A German biopic about the legendary World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen (Matthias Schweighöfer), directed by Nikolai Müllerschön. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus / Cert 12A]

Tricks (New Wave Films): Poland’s entry for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film is a drama about a family in a sleepy provincial town from director Andrzej Jakimowski. [Key Cities / Cert 12A]

Greek Pete (Peccadillo Pictures): A semi-improvised drama about a group of London rent boys, directed by Andrew Haigh. [Shortwave Cinema (SE1) & Key Cities / Cert 18]

> UK Cinema Releases for September 2009
> DVD & Blu-ray picks for this week including Encounters at the End of the World, Battle of Algiers and The Damned United (W/C Monday 31st August 2009)