Monday, February 8, 2010

District 9 vs Avatar – Best Visual Effects

I know, I know, another Oscar post lamenting the popularity of Avatar. But I watched District 9 again last night and 2 cents jumped into my hand so I’m giving it to you whether you like it or not.District-9-alien

Look, as I’ve said before, I really did enjoy Avatar. It was a fun movie and the special effects were fabulous. For $300 million USD they’d fucking want to be! But here’s the thing. District 9 had a budget of $30 million USD, and the effects were as good, if not better. See where I’m going here?NA'VI JAKE

The effects of District 9 were grittier and more realistic, and they demonstrated the quality that could be accomplished without a Cameron-sized budget. It’s not like the aliens only appeared in shadows, and it’s not like the aliens and humans never interact. You also can’t tell me that the cost was because the horizon needed to be generated, because District 9 has a dirty, great, big spaceship in the horizon for most shots!

But the other night, during my re-watch, I realised something that I believe puts District 9 over the edge. The lighting. One of the most difficult things to do right in graphics is lighting. Most filmmakers try to avoid well lit shots that involve CG. The reason is that if you don’t have the light source coming from exactly the right place, the shot looks fake. Basically, you shouldn’t be able to do shots like this without a budget higher than some countries GDP:district_9_new_image-10

Alas, the likelihood of District 9 beating Avatar in the Best Visual Effects category is about as likely as it winning Best Picture. *Sigh* I know. Give it up.


  1. I don't think there can be enough rants about Avatar being overrated. Not when a Film like 'Moon' doesn't even get a nod.

  2. The effects in District 9 won't get a fair shake because of the monster that Avatar has become. Personally, I still think Avatar deserves to win this category, but any other year would see District 9 winning hands down.

    The effects in Avatar truly blew me away. I can't say the same thing about District 9. While it's effects are good, the wow factor just wasn't there. I felt the same way in Avatar that I felt when the T-Rex arrived in Jurassic Park or when I got my first good look at Minas Tirith in Return of the King. That wow factor is going to make all the difference.

    It's unfortunate that budget does play a part in the race here. With that kind of money, who knows what we would have seen in District 9. On a dollar to dollar basis, it has the better effects, but with that out of the equation, I see no chance for anything but Avatar to win here. Kudos for voicing the opinion though. I'm going to take a third look at District 9 because of it.