Tuesday, September 22, 2009

District 9: A Review

District 9 has been out for a while, but I figured that some of you might be interested in seeing it/simply dismiss it as "an alien movie." It is much more than that. In my previous post I believe that I used the term "Hotel Rwanda with aliens" and I meant it. This is the most realistic, gut wrenching movie involving aliens that I have ever seen as it takes the entire premise and turns it on its head.

The movie begins (and is interspersed) with documentary style interview with various people and their views on the events of the movie. We learn that 20 years ago a large alien space ship entered Earth's atmosphere and came to rest over, of all places, Johannesburg, South Africa. The South African government breaks into the ship after several weeks of waiting to discover that the craft is basically derelict and the occupants are barely clinging to life. In a humanitarian move the gov't brings the aliens to earth and sets them up in what becomes the eponymous slums known as District 9.

The aliens in this movie are an oppressed minority that are generally looked down upon by humanity. While possessed of great technology, they do not have the capacity to create more, and most seem to be devoid of any kind of motivation to use it. They are easily taken advantage of by Nigerian crime lords, the decidedly questionably moral company Multi-National United and any others that come across them. More importantly, because they are in fact not human humanity seems on the whole to not deem them worthy of humane consideration. There technology is also almost worthless to humans as only beings with alien DNA can use them, leaving the aliens (racial slur of choice: Prawn) with few to no bargaining chips on the table.

The movie is very graphic, realistic and at times depressing. The actions scenes fully take in how horrible the combat is, especially when the awesome might of alien technology is used against a human target. And even then, you realize that most of the movie is simply about survival: survival of the main character, survival of the aliens, survival of hope. The atrocities that humans inflict on the aliens is rather incredible in its brutality, vehemence and conviction, recalling and surpassing anything that happened in any human race conflict.

That isn't to say that everything is horrible in the movie- the seemless blending of computer generated imagery and real world footage is simply amazing and the absolute best job that I have seen of it in any film whatsoever. Everything feels real- the whine of ships' engines, the awkward gait of the aliens, the rust on everything, the lighting, firing and damage effects of the alien weapons, the omnipresent site of the alien mothership- all feels solid and truly there. And I guess that that is part of the reason that it is so horrible at times, as it feels that this could easily happen.

Because it was so realistic and because it has a pretty damn good story overall, I really liked District 9. I'm not sure if I would see it again, but seeing it once was an excellent experience. Just make sure that you know what kind of movie it is before going in.

But, words only do so much. Here are a few of Neil's previous works so that you can get a feel for what kind of movie it is.

Until next time...

"It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could 'a' laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course, it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest."
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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