From producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startlingly original science fiction thriller with stunning special effects and gritty realism. District 9 plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed... only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

94



Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 112 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Mandla Gaduka, William Allen Young, Vanessa Haywood, Kenneth Nkosi, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Louis Minnaar, Hlengiwe Madlala
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Music by: Clinton Shorter
Written by: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: October 13, 2020


"No Humans Allowed"


Synopsis:

“Violence ensues after an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth finds a kindred spirit in a government agent exposed to their biotechnology.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

Thirty years ago, aliens arrive on Earth -- not to conquer or give aid, but -- to find refuge from their dying planet. Separated from humans in a South African area called District 9, the aliens are managed by Multi-National United, which is unconcerned with the aliens' welfare but will do anything to master their advanced technology. When a company field agent (Sharlto Copley) contracts a mysterious virus that begins to alter his DNA, there is only one place he can hide: District 9.

I think it would be fair to say that I liked District 9 right from the start. Its foundational elements aren’t original but, it turns the genre on its head, combining invention, relevant themes and biting commentary, wrapped in a thrilling, effects laden package. Part mockumentary and part satire, it speaks to its sociopolitical underpinnings from both sides as seen through a sympathetic character. I love the evolution of the story, its visceral edge and the coherence of its focus. The narrative’s tonal shifts are simply spot, allowing the sci-fi allegory to underscore the proceedings.

Sharlto Copley’s performance propels the story forward at every instance. I had never seen him prior to this film and, have been a fan ever since. The production elements are simply terrific, lending an authenticity that elevates the film’s thematic impact. District 9 was director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp’s debut and, I must say it was quite impressive. I am thrilled that Sony chose this film for release on Ultra HD Blu-ray.


Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The rating is for bloody violence and pervasive language.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.


UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Level of immersion:
    • Soundstage integration:
    • Audio object placement:
    • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
    • Entertainment factor:

District 9 comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD District 9 was rendered from a mix of film/digital based sources and finished on a 2K DI.

From a cinematic perspective, this film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in this presentation. Using a mix of film and digitally based elements the image has a predominantly smooth aesthetic, with clean delineation that draws out plenty of detail, in both close-up and wide-angle camera shots. At times the image is nearly devoid of color, while at others, has a pleasingly diverse palate, that sets the mood of a scene. Blacks are deep without compromise to fidelity, as the layers of detail seen with them is readily apparent. Contrast abounds as the richness of the depth seen in grays, whites and mid-tones pops in the film’s low-level sequences. Fleshtones adhere to the film’s visual aesthetic and appear consistent throughout the presentation.

As I alluded to earlier District 9 isn’t a consistently colorful film however, its cooler chromatic hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red benefited from UHD's wider color gamut, appearing warmer and pleasing to the eye. There is intermittent use of visual elements that utilize high dynamic range. I wasn't especially impressed with its application although some of that may be owed to the nature of the photography. There were instances where bright elements looked appreciably vibrant but, none really stood out.

Stylistically speaking, District 9 won’t dazzle with its use of eye scorching dynamism or vivid color. There is no question that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful and makes for a distinct improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.


Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, I couldn’t help but think of how much I enjoyed the 5.1 channel track on the Blu-ray. From the film’s beginning it was evident that this was going to be an active immersive sound mix. Once MNU enters District 9 to serve the eviction papers the track comes to life. I was very pleased with the mix in general. The use of overhead sound objects elevates proportional correlation, adding a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail and seemingly offering broader dynamic range.

The film is loaded with atmospherics, off screen cues and discrete sound effects that adds an enriching layer to the soundtrack. I also felt that the Atmos mix, compared to the 5.1 channel track, added a layer to low frequency effects providing improved depth that sounded terrific. All in all, this one delivers a solid home theater experience, exactly of the type you’d hope for.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: District 9 Ultra HD Blu-ray
    NEW Comic-Con Extravaganza Featurette
    NEW Original Theatrical Trailers
  • Disc 2: District 9 Blu-ray
    • Legacy Special Features Including:
    o Deleted Scenes
    o Director’s Commentary
    o The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log – Three-Part Documentary
    o Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus
    o Innovation: Acting and Improvisation
    o Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9
    o Alien Generation: Visual Effects
    o Joburg from Above: Interactive Map of Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9
  • Digital Code


Final Thoughts:

District 9 is a gritty, groundbreaking, and marvelously executed sci-fi thriller from filmmaker Neill Blomkamp. It makes its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in this Combo Pack that features terrific audio/video quality and new/legacy bonus material. As a fan I am thrilled to now own it looking and sounded better than ever since coming to home video. If you’re a fan this one is a no-brainer.















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems