God keep the Halo fans from hunting me down, but the best thing that could've ever happened was for the Halo movie to fall through. Don't get me wrong—I wanted to see a big-screen Halo as much as anyone else who's spent countless hours with their Xbox. But when studio infighting and budgetary concerns killed a Halo adaptation that Peter Jackson was set to produce and a relative unknown named Neill Blomkamp was set to direct, it gave Jackson the chance to produce District 9 for Blomkamp to direct, and District 9 is fucking outstanding. (See review.)
District 9 is Blomkamp's first feature, but there's a reason Jackson picked him to take on Halo: The guy's short films are nothing short of amazing. Seamlessly blending CG and live action, they're at once eerie and spectacular. Here are a few highlights.
Alive in Joburg—The short that inspired District 9, Alive in Joburg's a faux documentary about the tensions that arise when a group of aliens are stranded on Earth. It's excellent. And really sad. YES. EVEN SADDER THAN E.T.
Tetra Vaal—An ad for a fictional technology company, Tetra Vaal shows off robots that can be used to replace flesh-and-blood police officers. If you didn't already want your very own killer android—and in that case, I ask WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU—you will after Tetra Vaal.
Yellow—An Adidas-funded short about a robot who escapes the facility where it was created to hide amongst normal people. It's Blade Runner by way of John Woo, with Blomkamp's unmistakable stamp on every frame.
Halo 3 ads—When the Halo movie fell through, Microsoft was smart enough to have Blomkamp direct a few gritty, visceral shorts to promote the Halo 3 videogame. With disconcertingly realistic footage, Blomkamp proves he might be the only dude on the planet capable of making a non-sucky movie based on a videogame.