RT on DVD: District 9, Ponyo, Young Victoria

Plus Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock and Vanessa Hudgens in Bandslam

by | December 31, 2009 | Comments


District 9

Thank god for fallen projects.

Peter Jackson was all set to make a movie-adaptation of the phenomenally successful, but shackled in red-tape, Halo. When that project fell into a hole, rather than walk away, Jackson gave first-time feature director, Neill Blomkamp the nod to adapt his 2005 short film Alive in Joburg and District 9 was born.

An alien spaceship lands in Johannesburg. Cue a multinational, private military corporation to keep the peace and build the slums. This could have been a very solid, hot-looking sci-fi action flick. Instead, Blomkamp and Jackson made a thought-provoking, emotional, powerful allegory about apartheid; that is also a seriously hot looking well-above-average sci-fi action flick.

The realism of the alien creatures is a powerful driver behind the film’s emotional success. Flawlessly constructed, with just enough humanity in their crustacean-like form to be relatable, the plight of the aliens, or ‘prawns’ as they are known in the film, is hauntingly reminiscent of our own asylum seekers pushed into isolated camps in the desert. Characterisation that starts the film feeling stereotyped or forced develop into complex portrayals and the look and feel, though filthy and grimy, becomes very beautiful in its own way.

It is so rare for big budget monster movies to bring this type of originality and intelligence to the screen that this is a must-have for summer; especially as it is filled to the brim with special features. The 2-disc DVD edition offers a three-part documentary: the Alien Agenda — a filmmaker’s log as well as a director’s commentary. The Blu-ray adds an interactive satellite and schematics map of District 9, and a host of featurettes about the special effects and everything that went into creating this gritty world.


The Young Victoria

Queen Victoria was a remarkable woman, ruling the roost for more than 60 years. Today we remember her as the rather dour, fierce-looking guardian of high morality but before she became that, she was just a teenager.

The film is a little torn between flouncy, romantic bonnet flick and intrigues-of-the-court drama but in the end it is the young queen’s love affair with Albert that is at its heart. Set in a time when true love with a first cousin wasn’t stomach churning, her relationship with Albert is depicted as a major force behind her maturation into a balanced and powerful leader.

Emily Blunt is absolutely the best thing about this movie. She adds life and spark to the young Victoria who took to the throne at the age of 18.

While this film does have more than a whiff of a BBC Austen special, it is a truly original telling of this particular monarch’s story. So original, in fact, that more than a few ‘historical facts’ have been embellished for dramatic effect. You would have to have a heart of stone, however, to begrudge this lovely film a few flights of fancy. It is very beautiful to look at and refreshingly, the performances are strong.

Look out for the 2-disc version to get your hands on the special features. Amongst all the usual fare you will find a fabulous behind-the-scenes look at the costumes and locations, which are simply divine.



Ponyo is a sweet and magical fairy tale inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story, the Little Mermaid. It tells the story of a wilful and passionate goldfish named Ponyo who falls in love with a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and longs to become a human girl.

This movie was made by animation royalty. At the helm we have Japanese animation super-god Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro). Not only did he write and direct Ponyo but he insisted on hand-drawing all of the waves and the sea himself. Each cell is a work of art.

The production team of the English version are pretty impressive also: John Lasseter (Up, WALL-E, Ratatouille), Frank Marshall (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Bourne trilogy) and Kathleen Kennedy (Persepolis, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The English translation script was written by Melissa Matheson (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) and the voices include Cate Banchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

This simple story will captivate the kids and leave a smile on the face of all whimsy-loving grown-ups. There is a sweetness and innocence to Ponyo that brings genuine joy and delight.

The special features on both the DVD and Blu-ray releases promises satisfaction to the animation geeks in the form of a lovely featurette entitled “The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo” and a stack of creator interviews, Japanese TV spots and original trailers.



For the older kids we have Bandslam, a coming-of-age teen flick with a little more guts that the standard fare.

The story line is predictable enough. Geek moves to new school, geek meets interesting/bookish girl with undiscovered talents and becomes her best mate while he lusts after the hot girl who is friendly with vaguely ulterior motives. Seen it? Sure, but here the characters are kind of interesting. And while it stars Disney darling Vanessa Hudgens, and is a musical, there is not a Broadway moment or Zac Efron good-boy dance routine anywhere in sight. The music is ska, indie-rock and the music god is David Bowie.

The special features are full of musical numbers and a making-of featurette.


Charlie and Boots

This film is about as Aussie as you can get. Charlie (Paul Hogan) is dragged kicking and screaming by his son Boots (Shane Jacobson) on a road trip from Victoria to Cape York to do a touch of fishing.

From the moment they jump in the Kingswood we see shot after shot of gorgeous Australian country-side and all the expected ‘characters’ along the way, including a hitchhiker who brings a bit of extra colour to the journey.

The humour is gentle and is more of a backdrop to the unwinding of family history and the analysis of the relationship between the two men.

It is a relaxed, likeable film. There are no great revelations here but the charisma of the two men is undeniable. If you are wondering, Paul Hogan is the old one. The makeover has left him a tad unrecognisable.

There is lots to play with in the special features on both the DVD and the Blu-ray. Alongside the making-of featurettes and commentaries, there are interviews, and some great scenes with Paul and Shane.

Final note, keep the movie rolling right through the credits. It’s worth it!


Taking Woodstock

We have all seen the footage of one of history’s most famous music festivals. Woodstock. The iconic bands, the tripping hippies, the mud…but this is not what this film is about.

This film tells the behind-the-scenes story of Woodstock and the individuals who accidentally made the concert happen without ever seeing a single performance.

Elliot (Demetri Martin), in a desperate effort to keep his parent’s remote hotel afloat, sees a golden opportunity when he hears a neighbouring town have pulled the plug on hosting a hippy music festival. Desperately needing some guests so he can pay the hotel’s mortgage, he talks a local farmer (Eugene Levy) into providing his paddock for the event to drum up some business. Before he knows it he has 500,000 people beating a path to his door.

This is a fun film. The characters are interesting and generally likeable, and it is a fresh look at a momentous moment in modern music history. It is also an Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Hidden Tiger Crouching Dragon) film which brings with it some enormous expectations. This is not a defining film but it is highly enjoyable.

The special features provides lots of deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage, and a wonderful commentary from Ang Lee and one of his favourite collaborators, writer James Schamus.

Tag Cloud

Sundance TV IFC Netflix Christmas movies game show Crunchyroll hollywood golden globes Universal comedies technology scary movies Sony Pictures dramedy TV renewals Super Bowl Rocketman satire Avengers The Walt Disney Company latino suspense gangster dragons Broadway aapi Esquire adventure composers vampires Binge Guide crime thriller hispanic heritage month action-comedy Amazon Nominations CNN children's TV FOX Academy Awards spider-verse worst movies Paramount Network YouTube Television Academy teaser Bravo period drama FX on Hulu telelvision Tokyo Olympics Fantasy 71st Emmy Awards book adaptation First Look 20th Century Fox elevated horror History HBO comiccon Alien 2017 Heroines sequels DGA Elton John Warner Bros. Sci-Fi black justice league screen actors guild video on demand emmy awards Kids & Family Brie Larson Sundance Now Disney USA Network Ellie Kemper Pirates IFC Films movie kids Neflix CBS All Access Hallmark Christmas movies 99% RT History YouTube Red obituary Hallmark Christmas Fox News rotten movies we love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt harry potter Spring TV VICE award winner cancelled television Rocky Turner Trophy Talk name the review Rock parents travel know your critic talk show BBC medical drama cancelled sports dogs adenture Mindy Kaling IMDb TV theme song psycho festivals Comic Book YouTube Premium kaiju Pet Sematary Film Tarantino sopranos richard e. Grant nature Tomatazos discovery American Society of Cinematographers superhero jamie lee curtis RT21 Musicals Trailer Thanksgiving transformers jurassic park PBS italian disaster classics rt labs Turner Classic Movies romantic comedy new york Best and Worst CW Seed reviews MCU king arthur Ovation Interview Emmy Nominations child's play BBC One genre Nickelodeon spanish Starz Red Carpet Comic-Con@Home 2021 FXX Musical Biopics BBC America boxing ViacomCBS TCA Winter 2020 Paramount TV comic book movies south america pirates of the caribbean 93rd Oscars Logo stand-up comedy spy thriller Funimation remakes Cannes game of thrones Black History Month Pride Month Horror Tubi Showtime wonder woman biography BET Awards historical drama blockbuster Nat Geo BET Oscars streaming dark scene in color spinoff Legendary Travel Channel Character Guide Disney streaming service Holidays Awards Tour Black Mirror spider-man laika TCA 2017 Stephen King joker Netflix book biopic Film Festival cops supernatural Reality Competition Western 2021 Music APB mockumentary saw LGBT The Academy Instagram Live universal monsters Amazon Prime Video razzies basketball Cartoon Network films binge VH1 lord of the rings social media green book a nightmare on elm street Superheroes doctor who series Lifetime Lucasfilm criterion 72 Emmy Awards feel good rotten festival Pop PlayStation Apple TV Plus President Superheroe quibi 2018 stoner hispanic Emmys twilight crime drama Spectrum Originals prank halloween tv blaxploitation independent directors Action El Rey cartoon mission: impossible animated The CW TBS movies renewed TV shows Marvel Television Dark Horse Comics reboot anime aliens DC Comics Quiz asian-american mutant Sneak Peek Wes Anderson Country Mystery WarnerMedia A24 cancelled TV series news Comics on TV mcc science fiction kong trailers E! Grammys young adult OWN Peacock venice Calendar OneApp toronto Image Comics video heist movie 24 frames Opinion batman CMT Martial Arts LGBTQ zombie Chernobyl 007 mob ID war 2019 CBS Anna Paquin foreign target high school Marvel Studios VOD ABC Family unscripted best Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ABC Signature rt archives DirecTV marvel cinematic universe scary toy story Rom-Com National Geographic comics television 1990s singing competition posters Sundance TNT rom-coms TCM live event TIFF Reality Star Trek Countdown documentary slashers Lifetime Christmas movies cinemax Exclusive Video Hear Us Out Set visit all-time Family strong female leads concert critic resources ESPN political drama YA Classic Film NBC spanish language Apple USA Teen DC streaming service GoT golden globe awards comic 2015 FX nfl SXSW streaming movies crime diversity Star Wars Trivia The Purge canceled TV shows Cosplay women Infographic See It Skip It Amazon Studios Spike TV One what to watch Animation 90s king kong space Adult Swim Disney+ Disney Plus TV Land AMC Plus Discovery Channel breaking bad Song of Ice and Fire AMC die hard TCA Endgame worst Holiday true crime Mary Tyler Moore Arrowverse art house indiana jones 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Britbox critics japan Awards Hulu Pacific Islander MSNBC finale crossover Acorn TV Women's History Month Epix cats zero dark thirty live action dexter First Reviews Schedule Masterpiece hist Mary poppins based on movie Columbia Pictures Fox Searchlight Walt Disney Pictures Comedy Central blockbusters Drama politics fast and furious 21st Century Fox anthology Toys thriller zombies MTV stop motion new star wars movies sitcom Marvel Crackle The Walking Dead San Diego Comic-Con robots Summer archives 73rd Emmy Awards Captain marvel X-Men popular ratings cars Polls and Games E3 Disney Plus tv talk comic book movie natural history Tumblr franchise Certified Fresh screenings Lionsgate Video Games godzilla WGN japanese legend football marvel comics NYCC scorecard Paramount Plus cancelled TV shows superman A&E Mudbound documentaries rt labs critics edition Shondaland The Witch australia New York Comic Con Amazon Prime Podcast comic books Vudu new zealand The Arrangement cooking Winter TV Mary Poppins Returns Year in Review spain Valentine's Day royal family psychological thriller Marathons french international Freeform free movies vs. Pixar miniseries SundanceTV dreamworks TLC serial killer deadpool Apple TV+ Ghostbusters Disney Channel versus Extras Watching Series sag awards GIFs TCA Awards sequel Writers Guild of America black comedy boxoffice Syfy Creative Arts Emmys ABC revenge canceled 2016 DC Universe Election 45 SDCC cults PaleyFest Universal Pictures ghosts olympics police drama NBA ITV Television Critics Association james bond romance GLAAD slasher christmas movies Shudder Comedy witnail monster movies 2020 HBO Max nbcuniversal dc Winners chucky BAFTA debate casting Food Network TV movies Premiere Dates 4/20 dceu Box Office halloween Photos hidden camera fresh werewolf adaptation docudrama Baby Yoda facebook Pop TV TruTV HBO Go Fall TV indie docuseries