1. District 9, the 2009 full-length debut from South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp, gave us an entirely new way of thinking about science-fiction movies. I wasn’t as crazy about it as most other critics, but you couldn’t deny that it was trying something different, creating an alternate universe and plopping it right on top of ours, resulting in something messy, muddy, dingy, and surprisingly raw. He made his universe as mundane and confused as the one we live in: Everything’s beige and dirty and drab and in need of a good scrub. This grounded his aliens-as-apartheid-victims story, made us believe it despite ourselves, and got our eyes popping out of our skulls when the oh, shit blow-stuff-up moments came. It was scaled-down spectacle, documentary-style fantasticism. It was a neat trick.
2. It’s a gimmick, though, and