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What makes Neill Blomkamp's short Alive in Joburg interesting is twofold: first off, this got him the job on the film adaptation of the videogame Halo, and when that didn't work out, Blomkamp and his mentor Peter Jackson went back to this work and decided to expand on it for District 9, a modestly budgeted sci-fi that wowed audiences with its seamless CGI and handily won the weekend box office. (Fanboy excitement means that it currently ranks #26 in IMDB's Top 250 list. Ha!)
Alive in Joburg works as a solid introduction to some of the techniques that make Blomkamp's work interesting. It's a six-minute short which establishes the former animator's ability to smoothly blend the weird (CGI, robots, and aliens) with the documentary (essentially, the film's showing the arrivial of aliens into apartheid South Africa). It makes for an intriguing stew, and it's pretty excellent that the resulting full-length is a hit. What sci-fi needs is metaphor and cheap budgets, not transforming robots. Blomkamp's clearly a talent on the rise.