Cast: Sharlto Copley (Wikus Van De Merwe), Jason Cope (Grey Bradnam), Nathalie Boltt (Sarah Livingstone)
Director: Neill Blomkamp (Elysium, Chappie, various short films)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is a faux-documentary commentary on xenophobia and racism. It focuses on the actions of a bumbling bureaucrat, who is tasked with relocating (actual) aliens away from Johannesburg in South Africa. This does not go well.
Why you should watch it: Released in 2009, this film is ridiculously relevant now more than ever. While it was originally meant to represent apartheid in South Africa, its themes resound now more than ever. Neill Blomkamp created a believable cinematic world, filled with the evil and cruelty that mirrors our own.
The cast performs admirably in this movie. The main character, Van de Merwe, is played by Sharlto Copley, a friend of Blomkamp’s and not an actor by trade. The aliens are rendered well with both practical and special effects. The setting, 2010's Johannesburg, is a grimy and lived-in outdoor detention facility. It reminds one of the internment camps that our fuckwad president has created to house children and their families near the border.
The main plot point of the film is, ostensibly, to highlight how locals feel about relocated aliens and all that comes with them. The natives complain about the sounds, the smells, and the crime that these aliens bring and demand they be relocated. It is during this initial relocation endeavor that all hell starts to break loose and things start going sideways. It also demonstrates just how non-committal and fickle the government is, bending to the will of the people only when it benefits them, their party, or any election hot-button issues.
This film fared quite well following its release. It was hailed as a critical success both domestically and worldwide. Many critics had it on their top-10 lists for 2009 and it continues to garner praise to this day. If you substitute any race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation for the word “alien” in this film, and you see just how prescient the film actually is. Check out the trailer to get a feel of just how good this movie is. It’s streaming on Netflix.