Film Reviews

If you thought the title ‘Alpha Papa’ meant a close, Super nanny style look at Alan’s parenting style of Denise and Fernando Partridge, well then you’re ruddy bloody wrong. Not every television series has an easy transition to film. As much as I love the Partridge television series, part of me did wonder how this transition was going to work. Nonetheless, Steve Coogan (Alan himself) is such a comedic genius that I never truly doubted his abilities to make this work.

Of all Coogan’s creations, Alan is the most popular, which is interesting, as he is actually incredibly repugnant. He’s egomaniacal, selfish, crude, rude and to borrow a phrase from the man himself, ‘a bit odd’. What’s brilliant about Alan is that he is never completely unbelievable as a character. It’s quite possible you could meet an Alan in the wilderness of your real life. Perhaps in Tesco.

We pick up with Alan in his favourite setting…the studio. This time he seems to have acquired himself a young, slightly dim-witted sidekick named Simon (Tim Key) who sits in on his sessions and contributes meaninglessly to Alan’s chagrin.

In the fast paced, cut throat world of commercial radio, North Norfolk Digital is being slowly coaxed into the hands of a ruthless conglomerate and transformed into ‘Shape’. That means some dead woods gotta go. Said dead wood is emotional rollercoaster Pat (played in a superbly downbeat fashion by Colm Meaney) who does not take the news well. Instead he transforms the office party into a hostage situation, accumulating conglomerate scum, a new bit of skirt (Monica Dolan as Angela), a random cleaner who appears to utter only one line, and fellow radio staff, Dave Clifton (who enjoys regaling the others with stories of his days of alcohol, drugs and prostitutes in a voice dripping with pseudo-delirium) and some young blood that everybody wants to punch in the face…and repeatedly do.

Now that the station is under siege, Pat will only agree to communicate with the police through Alan. Cue the hilarity of awkward Alan trying to a) remain calm and b) not ramble.

This is darker than your traditional Partridge fare. But then, Partridge has always had a little darkness to it. Driving to Dundee in his bare feet, gorging on Toblerone, living in a travel tavern…Alan’s had many ‘low’ moments. The addition of fresh characters to an already much loved cast (yes loyal Lynn and Geordie Michael do make an appearance) keeps this recognisable and real.

There are enough jokes to keep you laughing throughout the entire film. Our cinema screen barely had a quiet moment. Alan works on the big screen surprisingly well. It gives him a chance to be the James Bond he has always wanted to be. But it’s not just about Alan running around telling jokes, facts of the day and sarcastic quips. There is humanity for Alan to discover too…oh and there’s also some truly Partridge dancing and hard core dance music. What’s not to love?

Part comedy, part thriller, part action movie, all Alan, all that’s left to say is A-HAAAAAAA!

1. Blindfolded
The ideal image to encapsulate the essence of Dogtooth. Here, ‘Bruce’ occupies a pool of water whilst blindfolded. The element of water is closely aligned with the subconscious and all that is unknown to ourselves. ‘Bruce’ has been raised in an atmosphere of ignorance and misinformation. As such she is both metaphorically, symbolically and literally blind. She is unable to hold a factual adult conversation as her use of language has been so warped in it’s teaching, as such she is unable to understand and ‘see’ the world as it actually is. Her senses are defunct in enabling her to interpret the world around her. The fact that the bind is colourful suggests that the intention for the binding is not altogether one of abuse, but one of adults who have deeply rooted issues of there own. The straps of her costume appear to be red. She is a symbol, a target, representative of danger and lust. The parents are afraid for there children, particularly there daughters, to develop a sexuality as this could potentially draw there loyalty away from the family unit and beyond the home. ‘Bruce’ flounders near the side looking disjointed and confused, literally cast adrift in a vast unconscious, a child in the womb.

2. Dance
Clothed in conservative, feminine attire, the two sisters prepare to dance for the family. The brother is to the left of the still playing an instrument. The celebratory decorations adorning the home looks childish and out of place, even tacky (note the Christmas lights to the right). The colourful balloons gathered on the floor appear to be straight from a child’s birthday party. There is an awkward, visible disconnect between the cheery decorations and the expressions on the faces of the three children. All three look stifled, anxious and deeply uncomfortable, as well as rigid and physically stuck. The sisters almost look like they are awaiting execution, so visibly unhappy do they look.


3. Sneaking Up
For this family, cats are a dangerous enemy. Here, the son, a victim of childhood brainwashing prepares to confront this deadly foe. The gorgeous greens of the garden represent an Eden-like haven. The cats pose looks un-expectant. The son looks fearful but purposeful, slowly inching forward with his weapon downcast at the ready. The contrast of such Suburban bliss and such an unholy, bizarre act is truly surreal and is almost a replica of original sin – a dark, disturbing act that may expulse the innocence from this scene.


4. Father and daughter
Here we can see where the balance of power lies. The father is angry with ‘Bruce’ for procuring videos from the outside world. As he wishes to cocoon the children in the family home, this is not good news for him. He looks like a harmless, ordinary dad. Nothing particularly sinister or cruel about him. That is what makes him all the more creepy as a character. He is elevated above ‘Bruce’ on the comfy sofa whilst she sits obediently and submissively on the floor awaiting her punishment. The room looks sterile and clinical. There are two thin blue vases on the table. Water is frequently used throughout this film. The element of water when free flowing suggests freedom but the children are trained to use water competitively, constructively, in a contained and supervised manner. The vases on the table are representative of this contained water, this stifled sense of freedom, a pre-meditated existence.


5. Sisters
After Christina’s visit, the sisters have a very warped introduction to what sexuality is. Knowing female genitalia only as a ‘keyboard’, here the girls exchange there idea of what a sexual favour is for some paraphernalia. This intimate, inappropriate pose shows the siblings desire to please and also the extent of there indoctrination. They have no concept or understanding of ordinary, or appropriate sexual relations. ‘Bruce’s’ rigid clasped hands look almost like a deranged prayer. The younger sister by contrast looks ethereal and peaceful. She has always been the more submissive and the more indoctrinated of the two. As such, she is happy to play along. The girls are shown naturally here. These is no gratuitous, exploitative use of nudity or sexy underwear.


6. Authority Knocks
When Christina is first introduced to the girls, she is a bit of an enigma. She works as a security guard at the fathers company and for some reason, agrees to visit the family and sleep with there son. Bored of his sexual inexperience, she soon makes a play for one of the sisters in exchange for some videos. Christina represents a destabilising force in the house. Firstly, she is from outside. Secondly, she has a position of some authority in the outside world, as we can garner from her uniform and the fact that she wears this to the house (she brings her outside authority with her). Thirdly, she is at least bi-curious which deviates from the fathers control of his children’s sexuality. Through sex, dependent on your stance, she either brings corruption or liberation to the house. Thanks to Christina, ‘Bruce’ is able to make an exchange and see videos of the outside world which piques her curiosity to leave the home whatever it takes. For the father, Christina would be a corruptive force, forcing his baby away from home. This is almost an updated garden of Eden situation where curiosity and temptation will expulse and expel the children of God from there parental garden. Is this better or worse for the children? Especially given there upbringing and ignorance. Christina looks confident and controlled in this photo whilst the sisters are huddled together, impressed and unsure. Christina is an example of a powerful, independent woman. The sisters are dependent and mentally embryonic and undeveloped. Christina, with her dyed hair, make-up and uniform looks worldly and contains knowledge. The most important knowledge she imparts to the girls is her sexual knowledge. The sisters matching haircuts and dull grey tops regress them making them symbiotic and colourless.


7. Removing the Dog Tooth
Those familiar with the film will know that the children are only permitted to leave the family home once their dog tooth falls out. Of course, there is no such thing as a dog tooth and it will never fall out. This lie gives the children hope that maybe one day they can leave whilst also preventing them from escaping sooner. After all, ‘one day’ the dog tooth will fall out. ‘Bruce’, inspired by sexual contact with Christina and the films she procures from her, decides to remove her own dog tooth once and for all. This is a courageous move for freedom. This act of self-violence for liberation mirrors childbirth, the loss of ones virginity or menstruation. The marking of passing into adulthood from childhood is almost always connected with loss of blood, especially for women. Here ‘Bruce’ looks downcast with vibrant red blood on her jaw. She has made her own decision to grow up. She has taken control. This marks the end of ‘Bruce’ as a child. She is a woman now.


8. Smile
To fortify the idea that a sense of innocence has been lost, the room and ‘Bruce’s’ attire are virginal, angelic white. Everything is clean and pure, sweet, cosy and girly. The only difference is the spattered blood on the mirror and ‘Bruce’s’ wide, mutilated smile. In the mirror ‘Bruce’ has finally achieved some sense of self-actualisation and self-recognition. She acknowledges herself as a woman and smiles. This scene is reminiscent of a ceremony or right of passage. As mentioned previously, it could be the loss of virginity or the start of menstruation. It signifies a transformation. As ‘Bruce’ is in control of this change, she is joyfully happy. She smiles brightly for the first time.


9. The cat did it
In this macabre, surreal piece of play acting, the father pretends that he was attacked by a cat. He uses cats, independent, free and curious, to represent a very real danger and encourage the kids to stay home. This exaggerated display of the cats threat chills the children and causes the son to later kill one in the garden. The beautiful, bold greens of the garden, again Eden-like, viscerally clash with the slash-fest red. The father has done his best to dishevel himself for maximum effect.


10. Christina waits
Waiting to be picked up to go to the house, Christina stands on the corner of the street. Street corners are usually associated with prostitutes. We know that Christina is complicit in the fathers scheme in as far as she does not report him and she sleeps willingly will the son. This picture represents Christina as an independent, lone figure, a free figure. Is she really any better off than the sisters? The world around looks sparse and empty, in contrast with the house which seems vivid and bright. Is this the world as the father sees it?


Friend or foe?
Catwomans ambiguous moral stance is perfectly encapsulated by her depiction in this still. At a glance, she appears like a cat in a cage, pawing at her freedom and glancing out at a world she cannot be a part of. There certainly is a large component of escapism to her character. The fact that she masks herself and has created a separated identity from her factual persona of Selena Kyle shows that she, like numerous other Gotham inhabitants, enjoys the fantasy of an alter ego. We also know that Catwoman is only operating alongside Bane because she is biding her time to get out. In actual fact, Catwoman is looking on, both curious and concerned, as Batman finally confronts Bane. Her gloved hand on the bars almost looks sympathetic and tender as if she could be reaching out to assist him. In this still, she is both a captive cat and also the captor. The ambiguity and polarisation of her character, is she or is she not on Batman’s side, is captured here.

The Pit.
The Pit is a prison where bad men are sent to be forgotten. It is also the site of an unlikely love story. The ‘catch’ to this particular prison is that the prisoners are stuck in the dark, dank confines below whilst eternally tortured at the prospect of freedom poised precariously above their heads. The circular entrance and exit is like a brilliant, blinding sun forcing them to recall the world beyond that is excruciatingly, and tantalisingly just out of reach. We always see the pit from below where it seems impossibly high and distant. The dark cyclical walls contrast with this hopeful beacon above. The effect is expansive, vast and dizzying.

Bane the Beast.
This is one of my favourite images of Bane in the entire movie. Here he is not encased in his usual uniform. This still is a powerful representation of his sheer strength, brutality, menace and tenacity. There is an intense rebellious authority to the character of Bane. His mask makes him appear almost half octopus. He looks alien, robotic, even animal. This low shot establishes him as something gigantic and bulky – a real force of reckoning for Batman.

The confrontation.
Posture and body language are such powerful indicators of a characters inner motivations. Here Bane looks celebratory, predatory, assertive and completely in control. Batman, by contrast, looks small and shrunken despite the look of insistent rage on his face. Bane is the focus here, perhaps to emphasise his size and status. The flow of water is a powerful elemental surge. Water represents the subconscious and perhaps is indicative of Batman’s own blocked dam of inner turmoil. The fact that it is bursting forth represents a clash, a pouring forth of secrets and emotion, a conflict, a rising.

Unmasking the bat.
Wielding the broken mask of Batman whilst his body lies beneath, Bane is victorious and has established himself as a true force of reckoning. Rain water is pouring. Gotham is literally weeping for Batman. A change has taken place. Again Bane is the focus here. Batman has been usurped.

The child in the pit.
Initially, the identity of the child in the pit is inferred, but not confirmed. The gender of the child is ambiguous. The features are large and expressive but the head is shaved and the clothes are genderless. The child’s expression is one of both vulnerability and purpose. The child is clearly about to lift there hood and head off into the desert. What is the future of this child? The still speaks of uncertainty.

The unmasking of Talia.
This is an interesting still of Talia which tells us much. She almost looks like a character from the masked ball of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. Her subtle Venetian style mask indicates she too has something to hide, an identity that is not quite ready to be conveyed. Batman is so much about masks, concealed identities and alter egos. It would be natural to infer that Talia too has her secrets. Of course to begin with, we do not know that this woman IS Talia Al Ghul, we know her as Miranda. If Bruce Wayne has Batman and Selena Kyle has Catwoman, then Talia has Miranda. The difference is that Miranda is not a flashy superhero, but a respectable business facade that enables her to fulfil her father’s legacy. Talia wants to create a normal alternate persona, rather than a glamorous facade. The lowering of her mask and the sly, assertive expression on her face indicates that all is not as it seems with Miranda.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
After stealing Batman’s pearls, Selena looks at herself in the mirror. Beautiful, glamorous, sultry, the mirror is another way of hinting at the importance of alter egos and alternate personalities. Selena’s assertive, confident gaze indicates she knows who she is and where she is going. She is only mysterious and enigmatic in the eyes of the other characters!

He’s behind you!
This is a not so subtle way of showing the re-emergence of Batman as a prolific Gotham figure. Bruce is bringing Batman out of retirement, and Batman is also something inescapable for Bruce. His and Batman’s identities are fused. Bruce cannot escape being Batman – he is forever lurking in the background of Bruce’s life and psyche. The bat suit looks sinister and menacing here – something Batman is often confused as being to the inhabitants of Gotham.

Haggard, dirty and exhausted, Bruce staggers to the top of the pit for his freedom. This still is a symbol of determination, courage and hope. Bruce is emerging and evolving into his bat form, gaining higher and higher until he established his freedom and merges with his alter ego once more. The narrow ledge shows how precarious and uncertain his position is. The darkened pit below and the luminous ledge reveal the vast distance between plunging backward into darkness and elevating into the light.

 Before Mike and Sully were world class scarers at Monsters Inc. accidentally unleashing a human child into the monster world and reforming the techniques used to elicit electricity from the extreme reactions of children to the presence of monsters, they were mere university students struggling to make there way in the world…and wondering if they ever would.

 Sully, son of a famous scarer, has a monstrous presence in the genes, but as a result is highly dependent on his family name and frightening features and regresses into an arrogant lazy jock. Mike, by contrast, is as terrifying as a toothpick but with the commitment and booksmarts to ensure he knows everything there is to know abut eliciting a top class scare.


Both majoring as scarers, Mike and Sully’s conflicting personalities lead to a confrontation that causes them both to be dejected from the programme. They are enabled one final opportunity to prove there worth thanks to Mike’s quick thinking. They will participate in the ‘Scare Games’, a series of obstacles intended to test there scare abilities. The catch? They have to form there own fraternity, Oozma Kappa, a fraternity as freaky as a hutchful of rabbits. With this there only opportunity to find themselves re-entered into the programme, the pressure is on and Mike and Sully must force themselves to work together rather than act as adversaries. They also need to reassess what it means to be a monster with Mike meshing with Sully’s ideas that being a monster should be instinctive and natural, whilst Sully begins to realise that being a true scarer also requires the use of ones brains.

This movie comes at a good time for university students and those of university age who might be questioning whether university is the most appropriate way to locate a future career. The film combines the importance of book knowledge and physical experience and street smarts which seems to encourage a better way, all encompassing way of education. As such, this is a refreshing approach to the school years and will leave audiences feeling there is no right or wrong way to be a success. What matters is friendship, determination and tenacity.

Pixar is delightful as ever with a plethora of physical jokes, gorgeous animation and a real humanity to these otherwise monstrous characters. A brilliant family film and a delightfully inspirational movie for kids working on the stereotype of American highschools with a campass of monsters in place of blonde cheerleaders and strapping jocks! It’s also wonderful to see the back story between two of Pixar’s best friends.

Strap yourselves in dudes and dudettes, this is a pure popcorn flick! The storyline had the potential to be big. It’s already made a few transitions since L Baum wrote his novel about a wicked Witch but the story gained gravitas with the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and the recent theatrical adaptation ‘Wicked’. It’s a story with a lot of ‘meat’ as it were. Quirky characters, a lush fantasy world, a manic, unrelenting evil both comedic and horrifying (the flying monkeys have always been a bit ‘Planet of the Apes’ for me). The elements of the story mean that it can be rendered something jovial and jokey, or something darker and far more sinister depending on the interpreters slant.

This adaptation goes for the lighter aspects of the story. Part of what makes this film lackluster is the cast, none of whom I personally dislike as actors, but many of whom I don’t feel ‘fit’ their roles entirely. Some films elevate B ranked stars into superstardom…Heath Ledger really gravitated a level with his performance as the Joker, when previously he was just a pretty love interest in ‘10 things I hate about you’, but none of the stars seem to fill out the gravitas of their roles.

James Franco is Oz. For me, Franco is a fine actor and he certainly adds a buffoonery and a roguishness to Oz’s character. The whole concept of Oz is the double identity: someone perceived as powerful and magnificent who is secretly nothing more than a showman of questionable morals. Franco is very good at personifying the magician, but not so much the terror and power evoked by Oz as a deterrent to the witches. He does have good stage presence and a saucy wink though.

Zach Braff is Frank, Oz’s assistant who also features in Oz as a monkey in debt to the wizard for saving his life. Zach’s unique voice and sense of comedic timing evoke laughs and his animated form is eye poppingly magnified in terms of its colour and grandeur (as is the entire movie…the graphics are equisite, particularly the little China girl looking a little like Toy Story’s Bo Peep only cuter).

Then there are the witches. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and and Michelle Williams have been crowned with the three pivotal roles on which the events of the film hinge. Weisz offers her bountiful presence, that powerful authorative voice, regal Shakespearean manner and story book look to play the despicable Evanora and Michelle Williams, with her delicate, baby faced beauty, is Gilda, exiled and accused of poisoning her father, waiting for the prophesised wizard to come and return her to her palace and people. The most interesting of the three, beyond Evanora’s one dimensional ambition and thirst for rule and Gilda’s glowing goodness is Mila’s character Theodora…the fairy tale princess who appears cookie cutter. She’s beautiful, innocent and falls in love, but her prince (the Wizard) deceives her and plunges her into a wicked transformation into a hideous engorgement of her former self, consumed by bitterness, hatred and victimhood. No doubt Mila was chosen for that distinguished voice which fans will be familiar with, husky and full of cackle. She is terribly unconvincing as the goody two shoes but comes a little more into her own as the witch. Nonetheless, I couldn’t lose myself in her character. She undergoes the transformation and does a lot of impressive screaming, but she’s not quite big enough to fit the broomstick.

Bill Cobbs, Joey King (you might recall her as the ‘child from the pit’ in the Dark Knight Rises) , Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi also make brief appearances.

Directed by Sam Raimi, this feels nothing like his work. It feels like a more recent Burton film (think Alice). It’s not that it’s a bad movie. It’s perfectly enjoyable, heartwarming and watchable, with familiar much loved characters and the potential of magic and redemption, but it’s still a popcorn flick, and if you can enjoy it as that you won’t be disappointed!

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor present us with a cinematic experience remarkably akin to a caffeine, drugs, sugar and alcohol binge as the audience is tumbled into a desensitizing, hyper-kinetic and over-stimulating world designed to force only the most echoing thumps from the heart and every drop of sweaty suspense from the pore. We enter a futuristic, dystopian world where technology has reached the pinnacle of its potential and perhaps inescapably, humanity has regressed and de-evolved mentally and emotionally so that everyone is shiny, superficial and shallow; a flawless cold demeanor with a selfish heart; a world where the id is King.

This not-far-off world takes degenerative aspects of current society and reinforces them pushing them to the extremity, the nth degree. Set in the not-too-distant future, the society of Gamer is one of violence and depraved sexuality but all of this depravity occurs not in reality, but can be experienced voyeuristically or vicariously through playing characters thanks to the games of rich boy entrepreneur Ken Castle (suitably slimy Michael C. Hall). Gamer sets up two un-real, artificial worlds; that of ‘Society’ and that of ‘Slayers‘; both of which are eaten up by capitalist, consumer ridden society who appear to sacrifice moral values and human interest for cheap and instant thrills. The society is naturally insatiable and constantly baying for more blood and more sex.

Society enables people to pay either to control or be controlled. In this fantasy world there is dehumanization, humiliation, pain, rape, promiscuity, alcoholism and drug use. The glittery, showy world of slick surfaces is as insubstantial as cotton candy, and yet rotten to the core. ‘Society’ is gauche, garish and almost offensively kaleidoscopic and multifaceted as a diamond, reminiscent of the explosion of a rainbow. Yet the overwhelming acidic aesthetics, slickly polished environments and promiscuous Lolita fashions are cold, uncomfortable and wholly devoid. The frequent nudity and forced sexual scenes feel incredibly awkward because we are witnessing the complicit commoditization of rape and of the body as a money-making vehicle exploited for its capacity to fulfill the twisted pleasures of others. As Rick Rape ( a jittery Milo Ventimiglia) forces himself upon the frozen Angie (a beautifully cold Amber Valletta), sexuality transforms into something clinical, abnormal and abhorrent as obese men sit in dark, dank bedrooms trying to arouse other men by portraying sexualized female characters who spout obvious innuendos whilst dressed as pussy cat dolls.

If ‘Society’ works on the individuals desire to control sexuality, then ‘Slayers’ works on the individuals desire to control violence. Real prisoners must fight for their freedom whereby if they survive 30 missions they are exempted from the death penalty. This world is gritty, bare and stripped to the bare minimum; a masculine pandemonium of blood, survival and rage. Gerard Butler is Kable, the only man to come in reaching distance of freedom who is in turn played by Simon (Logan Lerman) who portrays perfectly the adolescents desire to receive an influx of never-ending stimulation all the while yawning and sneering in its face.

The film explores the dangers of living in a world where humanity is completely independent and fragmented; where people can control and manipulate others. The totalitarian reigns of Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon may be over but in this world the internet reigns supreme. Parodying fads such as Facebook, Second Life, Big Brother, Call of Duty and the abundance of pornography that has infiltrated mainstream society, ‘Gamer’ is disconcerting purely because it contains more than a grain of truth, cashing in on three key social fads; sex, violence and video games. This satirical portrayal gets us to sit up and take notice of the direction in which our world is going – a world where the pleasure principle rules. The only hypocrisy of the film is that whilst on the one hand it condemns violence and sexuality, it makes gratuitous use of it; an uneasy but very watchable film which explores societies sub-cultures and blends with dark science-fiction.


Peter Jackson demonstrates his legendary ability to fuse comedy with magnitude evident in his earlier experimental works (Braindead, Bad Taste) in his latest foray into film perfectly. Telling the story of everyman Wikus Van De Merwe (portrayed by the terrifically twitchy Sharlto Copley); a respectable man who is not particularly strong or remarkable in any way, his ordinariness is contrasted with the enormity of the alien vessel lingering overhead Johannesburg that arrived unannounced 28 years prior. The film effectively merges styles beginning as a documentary compiled of interview footage adding realism to the proceedings in the same respect as the Blaire Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, switching to traditional film narrative as Wikus, a member of Multi-National United stumbles across a dangerous piece of alien technology whilst trying to move the prawns from District 9 into a supposedly more appropriate camp almost reminiscent of the concentration camps appropriated to the Jews.

The line between who is friend and who is foe blurs dangerously as Wikus’ own identity is thrown into jeopardy. The film follows a vein of others that explore some not-too-far off dystopian disaster that causes humanity to reflect upon their own condition. Set in South Africa, the strains of the black/white apartheid are joined by a tertiary ‘other’ – that of the alien or the degenerately referred to ‘Prawn’. Even with a universal foe in the Prawn, humanity is still unable to unify as a whole. The white characters are manipulative, hypocritical and tyrannical whilst the Nigerians are primitive, bestial, exploitative and brutal, none more so than the paralyzed Nigerian Warlord Mumbo who exploits the prawns by exchanging cat food for their highly advanced weaponry and arranging inter-species prostitution. The aliens by contrast show camaraderie, kindness and respect toward one another.

Wikus’ degenerate transformation from man to alien makes him an outcast living in a limbo land. Turned upon by his fellow colleagues for having blood perfectly in the balance and thus being able to operate Alien weaponry which is biologically infused who wish to harvest his unique DNA, Wikus initially head of deporting the aliens, finds himself living among them; an outcast, other, outsider. He develops a touchingly tender friendship with prawn Christopher Johnson and his young son which leads the two to storm MNU laboratories to reclaim the fuel that can power the mother ship. Christopher claims he must return to Wikus in three years because he must use the minimal fuel to get help for his fellow aliens. Wikus, unable to accept this, powers the ship himself and attacks Christopher. Attacked by the Nigerians who wish to devour his infected body parts to accumulate alien power, Wikus is aided by Christopher’s son and in a dizzyingly anxiety-inducing succession of fights and chases, Wikus allows Christopher to return to the ship where he emotionally promises he will return to him in three years time with a cure.

Advanced upon by the MNU, Wikus is saved by the slum aliens; he has become one of them. The film incorporates a sense of frenzied pace by following Wikus in terms of the hours since his contamination. Wonderfully frantic and bewildering, muddling comedy (the MNU’s doctored footage of Wikus enjoying the pleasures of a prawn prostitute/vomiting at his surprise party/Wikus “I’m the sweety man” speech) and merciless shrill terror (as Wikus is nearly operated on without anesthesia) the film is a beautiful and harrowing account of one man’s transformation. Ending with documentary footage once more so that the film comes full circle, Wikus friends, family and colleagues debate what became of him. The film alludes that Wikus, known for his personalized homemade gifts, has left his wife a metal rose, as he patiently survives the slums awaiting Christopher’s promised return. Littered with profound imagery, particularly the view of the ship used in the advertising campaign, this film contextualizes the alien genre and revolutionizes the alien. The alien CGI renders them beautifully believable and their emotional responses are flawless; Christopher’s son manages to be simultaneously horrifically alien and wonderfully adorable.

This is an interesting foray into the sci-fi genre that analyses what makes one individual or group ’other’ as Wikus not only becomes alien but alienated. As Christopher Johnson’s unnamed son remarks “We are the same”. If we ignore that which separates us such as race, gender and culture – we are essentially all the same. Jackson explores a theme which has been ongoing since Shakespeare’s literary reign – the theme of one’s identity in a masse. As Shylock famously stated, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”. A heart-warming and emotional film which will thoroughly surprise you by its end and make you want to hug your loved ones just that bit tighter.