CATEGORIES DVDsThere's aliens and love in the air this week before Christmas. Look up in the sky and you'll see the spaceship hovering over 'District 9,' an impressive first feature from director Neill Blomkamp that mixes racism and science fiction in a heady brew. After that it's downhill for a pair of failed romantic comedies: '(500) Days of Summer' and 'All About Steve.' But sip a little eggnog and give 'em a chance. 'District 9'
What It's About: Imaginative sci-fi actioner about the arrival of the first aliens from outer space, who turn out to be refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The beings are incarcerated as second-class citizens in a makeshift home in South Africa's "District 9" and pretty much left to languish until the government decides to relocate them and figure out a way to make their awesome weaponry work. That policy change sets in motion a whole chain of horrific events.
Check out our exclusive clip from 'District 9.'
It's Kinda Like: 'Alien Nation' meets the Maysles Brothers
What We Say: This medium-budget science fiction film about an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth took the box office by storm this past summer. It's an intelligent use of sci-fi motifs to explore racism, colonialism and exploitation in South Africa (and the world). The filmmakers chose to make the film using hand-held cameras and cinema vérité interviewing techniques to add to the realism. Successfully, we might add.
'(500) Days of Summer'
What It's About: An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman (Zooey Deschanel), named Summer, who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who falls for her and trues to win her over. When she finally dumps him, he shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days "together" to try to figure out where things went wrong.
It's Kinda Like: 'When Harry Met Sally' for Generation Y
What We Say: Here's a romantic comedy that looked a lot better on paper (and in the minds of movie critics) than it played out on the big screen. The conceit of "telling" the relationship by jumping backwards and forwards in time works for awhile, but then it becomes just more of the same. The main drawback: we just don't give a hoot for the guy or the gal.
'All About Steve'
What It's About: Comedy about a blind date gone wrong. When eccentric, but lovable, crossword puzzle constructor Mary (Sandra Bullock) gets set up with Steve (Bradley Cooper), a news channel cameraman, she falls hard ... but he doesn't. Mary thinks they're "meant to be," and decides to follow him on a cross-country hunt for breaking news, making life miserable for everyone.
It's Kinda Like: 'Blind Date' meets 'Love Potion No. 9'
What We Say: Sandra Bullock gets to play the kooky, idiosyncratic character she's best-known for, but this time around she's found herself in an untenable position: a humorless project that's a weak attempt at making a screwball comedy. But maybe she had to stoop this low to soar in 'The Blind Side.'
Other New December 22 DVD Releases:
'It Might Get Loud'
'Beyond a Reasonable Doubt'