JT Film Review

37 – District 9 (2009)

District 9 REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Neill Blomkamp

Cast – Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Vanessa Haywood

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District9PosterIf most movies did the amount of things wrong that District 9 does, it would quite simply be a bad movie. The level of mistakes is incredibly high in such a critically-acclaimed movie. However, what saves the movie is the amount of things it does right; and not only does right but does amazingly well and in a new and unique way. We have not seen a science fiction film recently (or a movie in any genre really) that does so many original things. District 9 combines the energy of Terminator 2: Judgement Day with the social and political awareness of Children of Men, mixed in with the story telling style of Death of a President. This does give us a very unique feeling movie; however it is a double edged sword, as we sometimes feel unsure as to what the movie is going for.

First I will touch on what the movie does right. 1. The acting is really what stands out. The lead actor, Sharlto Copley (playing Wikus van der Merwe), deserves at the very least an Oscar nomination. He creates one of the most fully rounded characters we have seen on film, and does it with the ease and grace of a practiced professional, despite the fact that this is his first acting role. 2. The sheer ideas behind the movie are it’s cornerstone. The idea of aliens landing, helpless and belittled, on Earth, and being herded into concentration camps feels real, credible, and eerily possible. After all, we as humans have been District 9doing that to each other for centuries, hell, millennium. So what would stop us from doing it to these “creatures”? Fear, perhaps. But when the creatures are clearly either defenseless or unwilling to fight back…? Such issues are not so much addressed, as presented. And personally I liked that it didn’t give us any answers or gave us a side to pick. It presented the issues, and did not shove an answer to them in our faces. 3. The movie is almost presented as a documentary, we see several clips scattered throughout the movie with people talking to the camera about what is happening or what will happen soon. This adds a great sense of reality to the movie, and lends credibility. It was a smart idea, I can’t say I can think of another movie which does it.

And now unfortuantely, on to the bad. The alien who features as a main character has many dialogue scenes (in alien-language) with his son. This dialogue is awful, it’s trite, condescending to the audience, and painfully expositional. The first scene in which we see him is the worst, it’s George Lucas level writing. It needs to be seen to be believed. The d9 - 2aliens themselves tend to look a bit “CGI’ed” in close ups, but other than that the visual effects are absolutely top notch (amazing for such a comparitive small budget film of $30 million). But the worst thing is the meandering plot line; one bit involving a drug lord seems tacked on, and the method used to wrap up the plot and give us a climax is similarly contrived. In fact at times its seems the movie doesnt know where its going. However to give it credit it does wrap up extremely well.

One more thing which irked me was the lack of explanation in certain areas. A key plot point involves Wikus’ ability (due to a mutating hand) to use alien weapons. However, he also seems able to use and fully understand how to fly alien spaceships and alien walker machines. An explanation is never mentioned, and I wish there were. But the overall quality and inventiveness of the movie essentially lets you forget details such as this.

OVERALL

This movie is extremely rich in ideas and inovation. However while making leaps and bounds over current movie conventions it forgets some basics such as a flowing plot line, and forgets to give us some fairly basic details. But these do not affect the enjoyment of the movie to any great point, and we are delivered a solid science fiction movie here that will attract may fans I’m sure. When the only other sci-fi movies this summer are Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen and GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, go see this one.

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TRAILER

“District 9” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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August 19, 2009 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , ,

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