The sleeper summer hit District 9, a modestly budgeted sci-fi thriller about aliens stranded in Johannesburg, South Africa, that marked the debut of writer-director Neill Blomkamp, outdid most Hollywood big- budget entertainments in terms of sheer excitement, ingenuity and craft. And the film's Blu-ray edition (Sony, $40; also on DVD, $37), charts a similar path, tricked out with the sort of thoughtful extras and supplements that deepen your enjoyment of the movie.
The faux-documentary news footage plays better on your TV than it did in the theater. Accompanying the film is a commentary track by Blomkamp, recorded shortly before District 9 opened. He admits to being nervous about how the film will be received and talks about his longtime friendship with the movie's star, Sharlto Copley, their previous collaboration on the short Alive in Joburg that inspired District 9, and the discussions on how far to push the picture's gorier moments and the metaphors between the central conceit of a shantytown for extra-terrestrials and apartheid.
The Alien's Agenda: A Filmmaker's Journey is a 35-minute featurette charting the film from conception to completion, including an interview with Peter Jackson about how the collapse of the Halo movie Blomkamp was originally working on led to this new, better idea. The 10-minute Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus is a more-interesting-than-usual look at makeup effects.
There are also featurettes on the creation of the remarkably realistic aliens and their weapons, the director's decision to largely improvise most of the dialogue on the set and 20 minutes of non-essential but interesting deleted scenes. (As a bonus, the Blu-ray includes a playable demo of God of War III for PlayStation 3 that, I must admit, kept me playing for more than an hour.) District 9 was one of the most satisfying popcorn entertainments of 2009, and its Blu-ray incarnation does the film justice.